The differences between WordPress posts and pages

The differences between WordPress posts and pages often causes confusion. In this post I will try to clarify things a little.

By default, WordPress comes with two types of content – posts and pages. For many beginners there are no immediately obvious differences between the two.

WordPress Posts and Pages

Do I need to use both types? Should I stick with one? When should I use one or the other?

Posts

If you are using WordPress primarily as a blog or ‘news’ website the majority of your content will consist of posts. Think of posts as journal or news entries. By default, they are listed in chronological order on the home page, with the oldest entry at the bottom and the newest at the top. Posts are archived month by month. As a post gets older and is ‘lost’ from the home page, it can be found by searching the site’s archives. Posts of a similar theme or thread can also be filed in categories. For example, this post will be placed in the category ‘WordPress’ – it certainly wouldn’t go into the ‘Guest Posts’ category. Any post can be put into several categories providing the content is relevant.

Posts can also contain tags. Think of tags as keywords. The idea is to help site visitors find very specific content on your website. This is particularly useful when a site has become established and contains hundreds of posts. It’s important to make finding content as easy as possible to encourage your site visitors to return again and again.

To illustrate; suitable tags for this post could include posts, pages, archives, categories and even the word tags itself.

You can publish posts without any tags, though they will always be categorised. If you haven’t put your post into a category, WordPress will automatically add it to the ‘Uncategorised’ category.

RSS Feeds

Posts can also be syndicated through RSS feeds. RSS feeds are potentionally very powerful as they allow you to deliver or ‘feed’ your content to your audience without them having to come to your site to look for it. Your site visitors sign up to the feed, allowing them to receive your content automatically. This is typically in the form of a daily or weekly newsletter.

Social Media

Due to the timely nature of posts, they are extremely social media-friendly (providing the content itself is good of course). There are many excellent social sharing plugins around to allow your site visitors to share your content on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The Davco Media website uses the AddThis WordPress plugin, but there are many, many more.

Discussion

Posts are also intended to encourage discussion. By default, WordPress has a ‘leave a reply’ panel at the bottom of each post. However, if you don’t want your visitors to comment on your content, you can remove the facility via the Settings > Discussion section of the dashboard.

Pages

Pages contain static content or content which doesn’t change very often. Typical examples are ‘About’, ‘Contact‘, ‘Services‘ and so on.

Pages are intended to be timeless. Your ‘Contact’ page, for example, is unlikely to expire. The actual details may change of course (you can edit content on any page at anytime), but the page itself should always be visible on your site’s navigation menu.

As pages are intended to be timeless, they can’t be categorised, there isn’t the facility to tag them and they aren’t associated with your RSS feed by default.

Although ‘leave a reply’ is displayed at the bottom of each page on a new ‘clean’ installation of WordPress, more and more themes are disabling comments on pages by default (though you can always over-ride that), on the assumption that you don’t want your visitors to comment on your cookie policy, privacy statement or similar pages.

Pages, unlike posts, have a hierachy structure, allowing you to have sub pages (and even sub-sub pages if you want them). To illustrate this, a large business website may wish to display a page called ‘Departments’ with individual sub pages for ‘Accounts’, ‘Sales’, ‘Marketing’ and so on. If they also wanted to show a list of personnel working in their marketing department, the page structure would be ‘Departments’ (top level page) > ‘Marketing’ (sub level page) > ‘Our Marketing Team’ (sub-sub level page).

The vast majority of WordPress themes also provide a number of different page templates such as ‘full width’ (removing the sidebar when you use that specific page template) and ‘contact’ (automatically adding a contact form to the page for email submission).

Drag and Drop Menus

To place pages in your preferred order, WordPress has a custom menu feature, which allows you to drag and drop each page into position. Go to Appearance > Menus on your dashboard to experiment. I recorded a custom menu overview video tutorial a little while ago which you may find useful.

The Key Differences

Although there are always some exceptions to every rule, primarily…

Posts are intended to be ‘timely’ – Pages aren’t

Posts are listed in chronological order and are subsequently archived

Pages contain static content (or content which doesn’t change very often)

Posts can be categorised and tagged with keywords – Pages can’t

Posts are included in RSS feeds – Pages aren’t

Pages can use custom templates – Posts can’t

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Although open to debate, there is no major benefit in using posts or pages. In my own experience, some posts shoot up the search engine rankings very quickly and then slip down (depending on the nature of the post), whilst others continue to rank consistently high. Some posts never really make it at all.

Well written pages on the other hand tend to find their natural order in the rankings, depending on several factors – not least relevance and the overall quality of your content.

Finally, what do you make of this post? You can always leave a comment at the bottom. 😉

+Ian Davies

About Ian Davies

Ian Davies is a professional WordPress trainer who specialises in teaching complete novices and inexperienced users how to make the most of WordPress. In addition to being the founder of Davco Media, Ian is also the founder of 'Red Custard' www.redcustard.co.uk - the Milton Keynes based design agency, specialising in WordPress websites.

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