Complete Guide to using WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS)

WordPress began life as a basic blogging platform. It was a useful tool for people and businesses who wanted to regularly share content with their audience and customers on the internet.

As WordPress became more popular it attracted a wide range of website developers and users who recognised that it had more potential than just being another blogging system. As a result, WordPress has also become a comprehensive, user friendly Content Management System (CMS) used for a wide range of purposes by millions of individuals, businesses and other organisations. WordPress now has hundreds of contributors who suggest and develop new feature to make it even more user friendly, robust and secure.

Older websites were not always effective when it came to handling large amounts of content and interaction with website visitors. However, as WordPress has evolved and improved it has become one of the leading Content Management Systems as well as being a leading blogging platform.

Content Management, Content Curation and WordPress

WordPress is now considered to be a CMS as well as being a leading blogging system, which means it’s made up of a range of Content Management tools. It is also the perfect platform to distribute or curate content on the internet.

The main differences between Content Management and Content Curation include the following:

  • Content management is the easy management and organisation of technical tasks through a range of CMS software tools.
  • Some refer to curation as ‘Content Management 2.0’. It involves leveraging CMS tools so that you get the most value out of your content and share it in the most effective ways with your audience and customers.
  • Curating content is extremely important for website owners and content specialists. It encapsulates different aspects of the web. According to Mashable ‘Curation taps the vast, agile, engaged human power of the web. It finds signal in noise.’
  • This article details all of the WordPress CMS tools you need in order to create a website that can be developed to achieve all of the curation targets you may have.

Content Management Tools in WordPress

As WordPress has matured into a world-class CMS, it has added more effective content management tools along the way. These tools have empowered millions of website owners and helped them reach audiences, previous generations of content creators and distributors could only dream about.

WordPress Post Types

A post is not just one single way to publish content online through a blog. Posts are much more than that. Almost every element of a WordPress data base could be considered to be a ‘post’. All of these posts can be grouped into categories known as ‘Post Types’. A regular blog post is considered to be post type ‘post’, a WordPress page is considered to be post type ‘page’ and other post types include media attachments and menus.

‘Page’ and ‘Post’ are the main types of post types but you can also create your own Custom Post Types or CPT’s. This flexibility means you can realistically have an endless amount of post types on your blog. Post types can also be created through a range of plugins you can install and activate through your WordPress dashboard. Some good examples of these post types include post types created by slider plugins, directory plugins, classified plugins or WordPress themes.

WordPress Pages

A WordPress page belongs to the ‘page’ post type category and is one of the most common kinds of post type. It usually includes static content which will not change on a regular basis such as text, images and video. Pages normally include evergreen information about an individual, business or other organisation. Typical examples include a business home page, about us, page services and contact page. Pages don’t change automatically but they can be updated and modified through the WordPress dashboard. According to Codex, static content is “less time dependent than post” which means the content is of a general nature rather than up-to-date or news related content which you usually find in post type posts.

Pages have a hierarchical structure which means a parent page can have child pages below it. This is useful if you want to create a large number of pages and display them on your websites menu. For example if you have a business and offer 10 services, you could create a parent page called ‘Services’ and 10 child pages (one for each service your business provides) below this parent page. These 10 services pages could then be neatly displayed as child menu options in your websites menu under the parent ‘Services’ menu option.

Sometimes it’s useful to be able to group certain post types together. WordPress pages are perfect for listing blog post collections and similar groupings that can be viewed in one place. They can also be used alongside page templates. All of the different types of pages on a WordPress website are similar to a table of contents and you decide what’s included.

WordPress Posts

Posts, also known as blog posts have the post type ‘post’. They are the cornerstone of the WordPress blogging platform. They were one of the main reasons WordPress became such a popular blogging system in the beginning. Every WordPress blog is made up of blog posts which contain various types of content. The difference between a post and a page is the fact that a page is static and normally includes evergreen content but blog posts are written on the date they are published and provide up-to-date information.

However, posts normally include the date they were published on and become dated over time, especially if you are publishing the latest developments or news about a certain topic.

Blog post are very similar to newspaper articles. They feature content that is related to current events and relevant at a particular moment in time. However, if you look back at an old article you know that it was written for a specific time in the past. However, some blog posts stand the test of time because they include information that is relevant at any time but other posts become dated after a certain period of time.

WordPress Custom Post Types (CPT’s)

As the name suggests, this post type is a custom kind of post. These types of posts can be used like a blog post or a WordPress page. Custom Post Types or CPT’s can also be used to bundle content into a plugin or theme without being seen by the end users.

A CPT can be used for separate types of content that doesn’t belong in a single page or in your website’s blog posts. This could include quotes, portfolio items, product listings and similar types of content. A range of CPT creators and managers are available to manage this type of content. You can also use plugins that curate content between different elements of a blog such as pages, blog posts, WordPress users and CPT’s.

Taxonomies and How to Organise Your WordPress Posts

When you know what the post types for your WordPress blog are, you need to be able to group items which are related to each other in some way. Taxonomies make this grouping of related content possible. Typical taxonomies in the WordPress system include Tags and Category for post type ‘post’.

WordPress Categories

Categories are an effective way to group related posts. For example, if you have an online marketing website and publish regular content, you may have to post under different categories such as ‘SEO’, ‘List Building’, ‘Social Media Marketing’ and so on. Each post is placed in a particular category which is an effective way to group and find related WordPress posts.

Each category can be displayed as a dynamic page that includes all of the posts for a particular category. For example if you had 10 ‘List Building’ related posts under the list building category on an Online Marketing blog, they would appear together in a page with a URL similar to this – http://www.websitename.com/category/list-building. As you can see the word ‘category’ is included in this URL to signify that the dynamic page includes posts in the list building category of the website.

Categories are hierarchical in the same way pages are. This means you can have a parent category that has child categories below it. For example if you have an online marketing website, you may have a parent category called ‘Paid Advertising’. This category could have a number of child categories below it such as ‘Facebook Ads’, ‘Google AdWords’ and so on. For example in this case the URL for the child category ‘Facebook Ads’ will be http://www.websitename.com/category/paid-advertising/facebook-ads. As you can see ‘category’ appears in the URL. The parent category ‘paid-advertising’ is next and finally the child category ‘facebook-ads’ appears. This dynamic page will only show a posts that have been assigned to the ‘Facebook Ads’ child category.

WordPress users can add posts to more than one category on their blog. This is useful for content that covers more than one sub-topic of a particular niche. However, in most situations it’s a good idea to add a post to 1, or at most 2 different categories. It doesn’t make sense to add posts to a high number of categories because it becomes confusing, especially if a reader wants to refine their searches to find specific information when they visit your blog.

In the example of the online marketing company’s website above, a post about ‘Paid Facebook Ads’ could be placed in 2 different categories i.e. a ‘Facebook’ category and a ‘Paid Advertising’ category. This means the ‘Paid Facebook Ads’ post will appear in the results for both of these categories.

WordPress categories should be used to their full potential. However, don’t just add a single post to a category and leave it at that. Instead, assign at least 3 related posts to each category in your WordPress website once you have started adding a large number of posts to your blog.

WordPress Tags

Tags are another taxonomy that are a useful WordPress feature used to group related content in a blog. A single tag or multiple tags can be added to a WordPress post. Tags are similar to categories but there is a key difference. They are not hierarchical like categories are. This means you don’t have parent and child tags.

To add a tag to a WordPress post, simply input words and phrases in the tags area of a blog post that are related to the content of a particular post. For example, if you had an online marketing website post about ‘The Benefits of Facebook Ads’, some relevant tags for this post would include ‘Facebook Ads’, Paid Ads’, Social Media Ads’ and similar tags that are relevant to the content of the blog post.

Every post that uses the same tag is grouped together and will appear on the same dynamic tag page that often appears in the search engines. For example, if you have a tag called ‘Paid Ads’ and its associated with a number of WordPress blog posts, these post which have the same tag will appear in a webpage like this – http://www.websitename.com/tags/paid-ads. As you can see ‘tag’ is included in the URL and signifies that this URL is a dynamic page for posts that include the ‘paid-ads’ tag.

Custom Taxonomies

So far we have gone through the main ways you can publish content on a WordPress website and how to use taxonomies to structure and organise the posts on a blog. Next, we will look at custom post types and how they are used.

If you want to manage custom post types, custom taxonomies are an effective way to do this. They can also be used to publish similar content. For example you could have a custom database with a custom post type for this database. Custom taxonomies such as categories or tags could then be created for different elements of the custom post type.

When ordinary taxonomies such as categories or tags are used the word ‘category’ or ‘tag’ appears in the URL of the dynamic page created for that category or tag. For example, ‘tag’ appears in the ‘paid ads’ tag page for the online marketing website example we used above (http://www.websitename.com/tags/paid-ads). However, the custom taxonomy appears in the link of the URL for the dynamic page of a custom post type. This means tags would be replaced with custom post type text.

Custom post types and custom taxonomies are a powerful way to organise specific content in your website. They also work well with more common post types such as ‘page’ post types and post ‘post’ types. To make things even easier for most WordPress users, a range of CPT related plugins are available to organise, manage and create custom post types for your WordPress website.

WordPress Custom Fields

Custom fields include data about posts. This means they are not a post type or taxonomy because they include much more detail about a post. This is the reason they are referred to as ‘metadata’ or ‘post meta’. The WordPress system has a screen that lets users add a custom field and custom taxonomies through the WordPress dashboard. A range of plugins are also available such as the ‘Type’ plugin that makes it easier to manage custom fields. These plugins also allows you to customise the functionality of custom fields.

WordPress Author Archives

Each WordPress user is assigned an author page, so you don’t have to register as an author to have your posts listed. The following page would appear for a particular users posts – http://www.websitename.com/author/username, so if your name is Fred Jones and your username is ‘fred’, all your posts would appear in the page http://www.websitename.com/author/fred. As you can see the ‘author’ text is included in the URL to indicate that this is a dynamic page for a particular authors WordPress posts. A 404 error message appears if the username does not exist. An author page is a useful way to show others what value an author is providing to a particular blog and the content they are producing.

Dynamic WordPress Pages

A key feature of WordPress is the way it is able to display related posts in dynamic pages that are created based on taxonomies such as tags or categories. Dynamically generated web pages are also referred to as Archive pages, Archives or Archive Indexes. The ability to create these dynamic pages that include related content is one of the main benefits of using WordPress as a CMS and to curate content.

WordPress Blog Pages

When you install WordPress for the first time the default page is a WordPress blog page. This can be changed to a static page or you can use the homepage as a place to publish and display your latest blog posts. WordPress settings in the WordPress dashboard let you select a particular static page or particular blog posts. You can also set the number of posts that will appear and the way in which a page will show blog post summaries or full text in a post.

If you decide to change your front page to a static WordPress page or display blog posts, the blog page displays your most recent post in reverse chronological order.

Sticky Posts

When you publish a WordPress blog post you have the option to create sticky posts. A sticky post is also known as a featured post and gets more attention than other posts. This type of post is normally an important post or contains ever green content that does not go out of date. A sticky post stays at the top of a blog, even when you publish more articles on your blog.

For example if you have an online marketing blog and you publish 3 articles about Facebook Marketing, these will appear in order of the date they were published. However, if you make the second post a sticky post, it will appear above the first and third posts.

In some cases you may want to have a sticky post for a certain amount of time. After that you may need to change it to a more up-to-date or seasonal post. However, many blog owners forget to ‘unstick’ their posts and the wrong post remains at the top of your blog post list. The good news is there are plugins such as the Scheduled Post Unstick plugin that unsticks posts for you automatically. Custom posts cannot be used as sticky posts but certain plugins allow this action on a WordPress website.

WordPress Post Formats

These are features of a theme that let you display similar types of content. The most common WordPress post formats include the following:

  • Standard
  • Aside
  • Gallery
  • Image
  • Quote
  • Link
  • Audio
  • Video

For those who wish to curate similar types of content in a particular medium, post formats is an effective way to do this. A wide range of WordPress themes support this feature.

Curating your Content

In relation to website content, all WordPress website owners and developers should factor in content curation. Content curation is vital because it has an impact on the accessibility of your content to your audience.

For example you could manually create a collection of various posts that are accessible in one place or page. This makes your WordPress website a much more valuable platform for visitors who want to find a wide range of content about a particular topic. Publishing a resources page is another effective way to place important information in one easy to find location or page.

The WordPress system has created limitless possibilities for businesses, developers, bloggers and other people who want to share their content online. However, many website owners and content specialists simply write some content on their blog and hit the publish button. This can be effective. However, using all of the content management features available in WordPress and developing a well-thought out content strategy are key if you want to attract a larger, more targeted audience who will keep coming back to your website every time you publish new content.

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