Quick Answer Section on Multilevel Categories
How to create multilevel categories in WordPress?
In WordPress, you can create multilevel categories by adding new categories and assigning parent categories to them (find detailed explanation in the post).
How deep can the category levels go?
More than you are advised to use. Do not use more than 3-4 sublevels to avoid overexaggerated content segmentation.
What can be organized with categories?
Posts and products (WooCommerce or other store system).
I want to change the way my categories are structured. Can I do that?
Yes, you can change the order or subordination of categories from within the category itself (more details further down in this post).
Why are categories important for SEO?
Categories help you organize the site. In the same time, they help search engines understand the content of your site better.
How many categories should I have on my site?
In most cases, it’s a good idea to keep the number of categories down under 10-20, depending on the volume of your site. In rare cases, you might need to add many more. The main rule is though, to keep the number as low down as possible.
In WordPress, you have the option to organize content using categories and tags. Categories are the strongest organizer, used by the CMS, while tags are mostly used as a way to enhance user friendliness. Therefore, it is important that you master the use of categories, including adding multilevel categories and managing their number & order.
Quick SEO Note On Categories Before We Start
In SEO, there has now long been a discussion about topical authority, the way it’s achieved, and the way it affects SEO. Categories are central to topical authority, as they are used by search engines as pointers in regards to your site’s specialization.
Categories should ideally be focused around a single main topic, supporting and digging deeper into it. This helps you target your content by limiting the number of irrelevant posts and sends a strong signal to search engines about the kind of queries your site is best to answer. It helps also address the right target group, minimizing the number of fruit-fly followers and frustrated readers.
As long as it isn’t possible to work around a single topic, try to group relevant categories together to help search engines understand the intent of your site and the kind of content users can expect to find there. It is highly recommended that, when working with multiple main categories, you try to limit them to logically connected terms from the same field. To highlight category grouping and connections, you are advised to use multilevel categories.
Multilevel categories should be structured according to the way a topic unfolds, starting from the top and following all branches. Categories should, however, not be too specific, making it necessary to use hundreds of them. It’s much more SEO-friendly to cluster very similar terms into one category.
As long as your content isn’t very large (10 000+ posts) and complicated, you should try to limit the number of categories to no more than 10-20. Ideally, under 10.
Creating Multilevel Categories in WordPress
In WordPress, categories refer to two sets of organizers: post and WooCommerce product categories. We’ll look at them both. Pages cannot be organized using categories.
Multi-level Categories for WordPress Posts
Single-level and multilevel post categories in WordPress can be added and managed directly from the admin menu to the left of the screen (the backend of your site). Here’s how you add and manage them, step-by-step:
- Click on Posts->Categories in the admin menu.
- You are sent to the following page (the screenshot below), where you can see any existing categories and add new ones.
- In the field Name, enter the name of the category, as you want it to appear on the site.
- You can leave the Slug field empty, it’s then filled automatically.
- To create a multilevel category, that is second, third, or fourth level (there isn’t a limit of four level, this is just an example), you should choose a parent from the Parent category dropdown menu. The parent category must already exist in order to be used. A typical parent category is created by setting Parent Category to None. However, when you work with more than two levels, a parent category can be a child of another category.
- You can skip writing a description, as it won’t be displayed in most cases.
- Skip the rest of the settings, if available (they are theme dependent), for now, as they are secondary to the creation of multilevel categories. You can come back and edit them later, if necessary.
- Click on Add New Category. That’s it. IT should now appear on the list of categories to the right.
The only rule that applies here, is that parent categories are created first. While you can always come back and edit a category by clicking on it on the list found on the Categories screen (Posts->Categories), creating the children categories first makes the whole process of structuring twice as complicated and time consuming. But to answer the question you probably are asking yourself now, yes, you can always come back and change the order of categories by adding/changing/removing parent categories. You can also rename or delete categories.
Alternatively, you can also add (but not manage) multilevel categories in WordPress directly from the Add New Post/Edit Post screen.
Multilevel Product Categories in WooCommerce
In WordPress, there is a second set of categories to manage, when one runs an online store: product categories. Just as post categories, they can be added and managed as multilevel. This is in fact the most normal scenario, when managing a large number of products and product groups.
To add multilevel categories in WooCommerce, you should do the following:
- Click on Products->Product categories in the admin menu.
- Start filling out the form to add new category. You should start by adding the parent category(ies). When adding a parent category, you should choose the value None for Parent category.
- Once you’ve created the parent category, you can start creating its children. To do that, choose a name for the child-category, choose a parent from the dropdown menu with existing entries, and click on Add new category.
- The child entries appear on the list with a dash in front of them to highlight the fact that this is a multilevel category structure. You can also add new categories as children to existing child-categories. Then, two or more dashes will appear to mark the category’s subordination.
You do not need to create multilevel category structure from the very beginning or delete existing categories because you want to restructure your store. Instead, you should just come back to the Products->Categories page and click on the categories that you need to edit/reorder.
Once you open an existing category, you get more advanced editing options in terms of adding/formatting text and media. In addition, you can always change or remove the assigned parent category.
As long as you delete a parent category in a multilevel category structure, its children get “promoted” to the level of the removed parent. If you want to simply change the parent, it’s a great idea to assign the new parent category as a parent to the old parent category (that you want to remove). Then, you can simply delete the old parent. All of its former children are now assigned to the new parent category.
This trick can be used both when working with WooCommerce and multilevel post categories.