Pages versus Posts in WordPress

May 24, 2009

by James Coletti and James Mitchell

WordPress employs two fundamental content types: pages and posts. These content types behave quite differently and therefore it is important to understand when to create a page or a post.

Pages

In most cases, pages contain static content without regard to the date or time the content was published.

Advantages of Pages as Compared with Posts

  • Pages can be ordered alphabetically or arbitrarily using a defined page order.
  • Pages can be arranged in a hierarchy (a parent page can have one or more child pages).
  • Pages can make use of custom page templates to give the page an entirely unique structure and design.

Disadvantages of Pages as Compared with Posts

  • Pages cannot be ordered chronologically, and therefore are time insensitive.
  • Pages cannot be assigned categories or tags.
  • Pages do not appear in any RSS feeds.
  • Page updates do not trigger a Remote Procedure Call (“RPC”) ping to known update services.

Thus, pages should be used for static content that will change very infrequently, if ever. According to Lorelle VanFossen’s article entitled “Are you abusing your WordPress Pages and your blog?,” pages typically contain “timeless, reference content such as information about the blog and blog owner(s), contact information, schedule of events, links to resources and references, table of contents or site maps, copyright and legal policies, and other information a site needs to provide to visitors.??? Examples include a home page, about page, glossary of terms, and frequently asked questions.

Since WordPress does not send an RPC ping to third party services when a page is published or updated, there is no way to explicitly tell search engines and other spiders to re-crawl your pages. Essentially, once a page is published and indexed, spiders will not revisit them as often as posts and will do so at their own discretion.

One argument supporting the use of pages for valuable and unique content is preventing spam blogs from stealing content via RSS. Since pages do not appear in RSS feeds, it is less likely that your content will show up on syndicating, copycat websites that are competing for search engine result placement.

Posts

A post is the fundamental component of a blog. Blogs typically display posts in reverse-chronological order, thus placing the most recent content first.

Advantages of Posts as Compared with Pages

  • Posts can be published in any number of categories and can be assigned tags, or keywords.
  • Posts can be fetched by category or tag. WordPress automatically creates dynamic pages for these taxonomic keywords. These dynamic pages display all of the posts assigned to the particular category or tag, respectively.
  • Posts trigger an RPC ping when they are published or updated.
  • Posts are syndicated via RSS in the website’s main RSS feed, as well as category or tag-specific RSS feeds.

Disadvantages of Posts as Compared with Pages

  • Posts cannot use the custom page template feature of WordPress. This means that you cannot force a particular post to use a different PHP template than the other posts. Many WordPress bloggers may style individual posts differently using post IDs and CSS, though this is different than using a custom template. However, this functionality can be added using Simon Wheatley’s Custom Post Template plugin, or Nathan Rice’s WordPress Single Post Templates plugin.
  • Posts are time-sensitive and cannot easily be ordered arbitrarily. If they will be used in a header or sidebar, it is not much work to handcode links to such posts, if you are willing to accept the work in maintaining such links.
  • Posts cannot be arranged hierarchically with respect to each other, meaning that a particular post cannot have “sub-posts.” In theory, the workaround for this should be trivial — simply change the URL so that the subfolder is included in the URL, separated by a /. The problem is that when you edit the URL, any / you add is removed by WordPress. So you have to use a dash (-) rather than a slash, which eliminates the simulation of a folder hierarchy. Nor can you solve the problem by including the slash in title, because when the ULR is created, the / is removed from the URL.

A common goal for bloggers and other content publishers is to attract an audience of regular readers. This is often done via RSS as regular readers will subscribe to the website’s feed to be notified when new content is published. WordPress also uses the RPC protocol to notify search engines and other blog indexes (such as Technorati) that a post has been published or updated.

Accordingly, for time-sensitive, chronological content, you probably want to sue a post. Examples include news or about a particular subject, such as a new law regarding medical malpractice, or an article about the effects of mesothelioma that was recently published in a respected, medical journal.

Further Reading

Here are some good articles:

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