Post vs. Page

Previously on the CogitActive Saga:
I am not going to insult you by explaining how to create a page in WordPress.

The above statement is still in effect. Besides, I have a whole post on Gutenberg – the new editor since WordPress 5.0. Admittedly, it is not a comprehensive guide on how to create posts or pages; but as I said, there is no need for that. However, given the number of articles on the differences between posts and pages, I assumed it was worth delving into this matter. Was it?

Before to start investigating, it is important to clarify that, here “page” refers to the content type and not to the container or document (i.e. “web page”).

In WordPress, you can put content on your site as either a “post” or a “page”.WordPress

Two different menus in your dashboard

Aside from sharing the Gutenberg editor, both posts and pages have a title, body text, and associated metadata. However, despite these similarities, they are managed through different locations (in your dashboard menu): Posts and Pages, respectively. These two screens are described in WordPress documentation (and there is no need to reinvent the wheel):

Of note, while the Pages menu has only two sub-menus – all pages and Add new – the Posts menu has four items: All posts, Add New, Categories and Tags. This dissimilarity points to a first difference between both content types: posts can be categorized and tagged, while pages cannot be associated with Categories1. Concerning tags, some themes allow adding tags to pages as well, but tags on Pages are not included in lists displayed via the ‘tag’ permalink1. In keeping with this distinction, the Add new screen for each content type will differ in that matter: the one for posts has a Categories module, as well as a Tag module, under the Document settings, while there is no such modules in the pages Add new screen.

Another difference between the respective Add new screens concerns the Discussion module. While each respective module has an Allow Comments checkbox, only the one for posts offers the possibility to Allow Pingbacks & Trackbacks. Similarly, the Status & Visibility module of the latter has two extra options (as compared to the one for pages): Post Format and Stick to the top of the blog. The first feature, introduced with WordPress 3.1, allows themes to present posts in a certain format and style, i.e. to customize their appearance based on their format (as explained below). As for the other option, if selected, it will place the post at the top of the front page of posts, keeping it there until new sticky posts are published. In keeping with blog specific items, the posts Add new screen has an Excerpt module in which you can provide an optional summary of the post.

Last, the pages Add new screen has an Attribute module in which you can set page parents (see below), among other things (if your theme allows them). Understandably, you don’t need such a module for posts since they do not have their own inherent structure, but rely on categories instead (see WordPress categories).

All these variances exist for a reason – there are key differences between posts and pages.

Done with playing “spot the difference”; it’s time to speak to the core of the matter.

Key differences

Pages, in WordPress, are different from posts because they don’t get archived the way your posts do. They aren’t categorized or tagged, don’t appear in your listing of recent posts or date archives, and aren’t syndicated in the RSS feeds available on your site.Lisa Sabin Wilson

The major distinction between both content types is how they deal with their publication date. This time information, which does not matter for pages, is of utmost importance for posts. Indeed, there is a certain level of timeliness to the information published in a post, whereas the content of pages is not specifically time-dependent1. For this reason, in a default setup, posts are listed in reverse chronological order on your homepage (and all the archive pages) in order to keep fresh content on top (with the exception of sticky posts). On the other hand, pages don’t appear in the time-structured views within a blog section of a website1. In addition, the publication date is typically displayed below the title of a post, but nowhere to be found on a page.

In keeping with this time consideration, posts are regular pieces of content (i.e. you constantly add articles). Accordingly, they are syndicated through the RSS feeds of your site. Users (who subscribed to your feed) will be notified when new blog posts are published or – even better – get these new posts directly fed to them without actually having to open your site. Given their nature, pages are not included in your site’s ‘feeds’1. It would not make any sense to syndicate these more ‘permanent’ fixtures. Similarly, pages, unlike posts, will not appear in (monthly) archives.

In addition to not displaying the publication date, pages do not show the name of the author, or any metadata for that matter. Even though WordPress stores this information (for both content types), most themes only show post’s author, but not page’s author. Indeed, this info is particularly useful for the former, but not the latter, because it encourages readers to check for other published work by the same author (in multi-author sites). Moreover, this can help authors to be more visible and accessible to their audience. In keeping with this idea, posts encourage conversation; hence, the built-in comments feature (as well as the pingbacks & trackbacks option). That being said, you can allow comments on pages (but not pingbacks & trackbacks); yet, you may not want users to comment on your terms of use.

Pages cannot be associated with Categories.

If you follow the CogitActive Saga, you may know that posts are organized using categories and tags. As a matter of fact, categories are the core of your blog architecture because, unlike tags, they are hierarchical (see Category vs. Tag vs. Keyword). However, when it comes to organize and manage the structure of your website, pages are the way-to-go because they create a true site structure. Indeed, unlike posts, pages are hierarchical by nature. This means that pages can be organized into pages and subpages1 (see Creating the structure of my website – from pages to menu). Not only will the URL of nested pages accurately indicate your site structure, but also this will help your readers, as well as search engines, to navigate your site.

The organizational structure for Pages comes from hierarchical interrelationship, not from a system of categorization (e.g. Tags or Categories).WordPress

As already alluded, posts can have different formats depending on the type of content. The available Posts Formats (in Status & Visibility > Post Format, if the theme enables support for them) are as follow: Aside, Gallery, Link, Image, Quote, Standard2, Video and Audio. While their appearance will vary from theme to theme, this feature makes it easy to style a specific post based on its content. Now, you can assign different looks and layouts for each page on your site as well, using Pages Templates. This feature can come in very handy when creating landing pages such as your archive pages (e.g. compare the CogitActive Saga tag archive with the default template use in this search result page). Some sophisticated themes come with custom templates that you can select in the Attribute module. However, in most case you will have to create those on you own.

Dynamic vs. Static

Often articles on the subject matter bring up another key distinction, claiming that posts are dynamic and pages are static. Granted, some refers only to their respective content; yet, even in those articles you will see a quick summary of the type “Dynamic vs. Static”.

As nicely explicated in The Dynamic Nature of WordPress Pages, a web page – remember my introductory remark on “page” vs. “web page” – can be static or dynamic. In the early days of the Web, sites were built by creating each page individually using HTML. As opposed to these static pages, dynamic pages, such as those you create with WordPress, do need to be regenerated every time they are viewed1. The actual web page doesn’t exist, but is generated from PHP code.

Actually, the database is what makes a site dynamic. Again, the content – be it page or post – does not exist as individual files but is stored in the database and pulled from there by the aforementioned code. If WordPress pages were static, they would be files. As emphasized by WordPress, pages are not files. They are stored in your database, just like posts1.

Almost everything in WordPress is generated dynamically, including Pages.WordPress

To sum up

Both content types have different scopes. If you are using your site exclusively as a blog, as I do with Beyond (this blog), your main content type will be posts. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s quite possible to make a website using WordPress which only contains pages1, as exemplified with CogitActive (my website). However, typically, your site should use a mixture of both; keeping pages for content that isn’t specifically time-dependent, or which isn’t ‘blog content’1.

In addition to the common “About” and “Contact” pages, other examples include “Copyright”, “Disclosure”, “Legal Information”, “Reprint Permissions”, “Company Information” or “Accessibility Statement”.WordPress

Last, but not least, apparently, Pages and Posts can be interpreted differently by site visitors and by search engines1. According to WordPress, search engines place more relevance to posts given their timely nature; a newer post on a topic may be more relevant than a page. However, Rossitsa Vicheva3 asserts the opposite:

Do search engines make a difference between pages and posts? The answer is very simple: NO, they do not. It is all content to them and the same indexing algorithm applies to both post types.Rossitsa Vicheva

Anyway, understanding the differences between both content types can help choosing the appropriate medium for publishing your content. Now, was it “worth delving into this matter”? Probably, but definitively not enough to be included in the current mini-series, namely the final stretch before to bring this blog online (see WordPress categories).

1 See Pages. ^
2 The default Post Format, namely Standard, is actually used to designate that no Post Format is specified. ^
3 Rossitsa Vicheva (2019) WordPress Pages vs WordPress Posts, Common Sense, and SEO. DevriX. ^

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