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How To Clear Up Your Blog Categories And Tags

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I have a confession to share with you.

After blogging for more than eight years, I still make mistakes when I’m assigning ‘categories’ and ‘tags’ to my posts and pages. It took me a while in fact to understand the difference between these two ways for classifying content created in WordPress.

The result is that my categories and tags are in a mess.

I have some that are almost duplicates: ‘authors at home’ covers the same content as ‘writer’s homes’ for example. Others are inconsistent: I have ‘Australian authors’ and ‘Welsh authors’ but also ‘authors from (country name).

I have categories that I used just once or twice and its unlikely I’ll use them in the future. Others wouldn’t help visitors – especially first time visitors – find content of interest.

Having embarked on a clean up I thought I’d share some tips on how to bring some order to your categories. The step-by-step instructions below apply also to tags.

Changing The Category Of A Single Post

1. Open up WP admin and select ‘all posts’ from the menu panel on the left. You can follow exactly the same steps to change categories and tags for pages (just select ‘all pages’ from the left menu panel.)

2. On the main screen, select ‘All Categories’ to see a drop down menu of every category you’ve ever used on your site. 

3. Select the category you want to edit. Then click on  ‘Filter’ (to the far right of your screen). Your screen will now display only those posts that use that category. The category I wanted to change was called ‘Authors at Home’ .

4. You can now edit the posts individually by hovering over the relevant post and choosing the ‘Quick Edit‘ option.

This opens up a view of the meta data of your post, (not the entire post).

Scroll through the categories’ list until you find the one you want to use as the replacement. Click the checkbox and then confirm your selection by clicking on ‘Update’.

You can use this method to change other aspects of the post such as the title, slug (be very wary about changing this however), date and tags.

While this works great for a single post or a small number, it’s a chore if you need to change several posts. 

Fortunately WordPress has a Bulk Edit feature which makes this much easier.

Using the WordPress Post Bulk Edit

The WordPress Bulk Edit feature is easy to use and fast. It removes the laborious task of changing meta data one post at a time.

You start by following steps 1-3 as explained above.

Now instead of going through each post, you just use the checkbox to the left  of each post title. If you want to select all the posts, click the checkbox next to ‘Title‘ on the top row.

Now lick the arrow alongside ‘Bulk actions’ on the top row and select ‘Edit‘ – this will open up a meta data box where you can change the category for all these posts. Use the drop down menu to select your preferred alternative category.

Finally click on ‘apply‘ in the top row and then ‘update’ towards the bottom right corner.

And that’s it. All posts will now bear the new category.

A Note of Caution

While Bulk Editor is fast and easy to use, it does have some limits. The chief one is that you cannot use this feature to create a new category – only to
re-allocate posts to a different existing category. 

If you want to use a new category, you need to do this before you begin to use the bulk editor. 

You do this easily by opening ‘WP Admin‘, and selecting ‘categories‘ in the left menu. At the next screen type in your new category name (the slug will automatically be generated) and then select  ‘Add New Category’

Over to You

Do you have any tips to share about cleaning up categories and tags on blog posts pages. Are there any aspects about categories and tags you’d like me to address in a future post?

Did you find these tips helpful ? There are many more listed on my ‘book blogging tips‘ page.

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