Bulk Edit Posts, Categories and Tags on Your WordPress Blog

Mass editing posts on WordPress can be very hard if you do it all manually and one-by-one, but fortunately built-in functionality in the WordPress and additional help from plugins will help the bulk edit process. If you need to do heavy re-categorizing or re-tagging your posts, this article will give you the tools and tips to do it with reasonable effort and keep your old backlinks in order while at it.

In this post, how to edit many posts at the same time and define categories and tags for multiple posts:

  • What To Do Before Starting the Mass Edit
  • What Plugins Should Be Installed to Help the Bulk Edit Process
  • How the Bulk Edit Works in WordPress (versions 2.7+)
  • How To Handle Massive Amount of Posts and Change Categories and Tags on Them

If you have done or planning a Blogger-WordPress import, you more and less have to do this kind of heavy editing of your posts, as the Blogger / blogspot tags are imported as categories. You can easy this process by removing and editing the tags in the Blogger before you do the import, but with the user interface there, it might actually be easier to do it like I show in this guide by removing the old categories and tags all together and re-categorize and re-tag your whole blog.

Whether you are moving or moved from old blog to self-hosted WordPress or you are planning to re-organize your blog by rethinking the categories and tags you use and need advice and tips on editing large amounts of posts in your WordPress blog in general, read on...

Categories and Tags in WordPress

Categories and tags have several functions in WordPress: They help you and your readers to find the posts with ease (or make it very hard to find posts if not done properly). In addition to making your blog more navigable, proper categorizing and tagging can make search engines index your site better and thus, help to bring more traffic to your blog.

If you have just started or are just about to start a new blog, before you begin writing posts to your blog, you should think about how you will categorize and tag your posts. The usual problem is that at the start you might not have a clear idea what kind of categories you should use, and you should place some word as category or tag, etc.

So if you have not categorized or tagged your posts the way you think you should have and you want to change your categories and/or tags later, YOU CAN, so no worries. With large amounts of posts it can take a bit of time, but when done right, it will definitely help the readers to navigate and the search engines to index your site.

If you have imported your old blog or blogs to the WordPress from Blogger / blogspot, like I did, you more and less HAVE TO re-categorize and tag all the imported posts (as the import function places Blogger tags as categories in WordPress). You need to do this just to clarify the structure of your blog with simple categories and clear tagging strategy. If you have imported from WordPress.com the categories and tags should remain, but you could still re-plan and edit them if you like.

Whatever your reason to re-categorize and re-tag is, when you want to change your categories and/or tags in large amounts, you need to do some bulk / mass editing...

Before You Start Bulk Edit of Your Posts

Define new Permalink structure for your blog

NOTE: When importing from a old blog, for example WordPress.com or Blogger / blogspot, define the permalink structure BEFORE the import!

If you want to change your permalink structure, do it before you start editing and updating the posts, and go "refresh" it when you're all done. You can use any permalink structure you want, and it might depends on your blog, but for most blogs the "YEAR/MONTH/DATE" permalink structure isn't the best possible one, not to even mention the default "?P=123" or the "ARCHIVES/123" -structures.

Date-based permalinks are great for blogs that have time-related content. But if your blog is more timeless and information based, you can consider other options as well. But always include the %postname% in the permalink structure.

Use some time to check the best permalink structure for your blog, and then choose from these

  • /%postname%/
  • /%post_id%/%postname%/
  • /%year%/%month%/%day%/%postname%/
  • /%category%/%postname%/

While you are in the Permalink Settings, set the OPTIONAL custom structures for category and tag URLs. I use "topics" for category base and "tags" for tag base, but the defaults will be ok in most cases. These base-names will be in front of individual category or tag slug in the archives.

Note that if you use this kind of category-postname permalink structure and you're also using "child-categories", your posts will linked both in the child category and parent-child kind of structures. Because of this, you should use parent/child categories, if you have the %category% in the permalink settings. Also, only set one category for each posts and use multiple tags instead.

For example you have a category called "Blogging" and child-category under it called "WordPress". You write a post "I rock!" and file it under "WordPress". The post will have "main" permalink in /blogging/wordpress/i-rock/ but it will also be filed /blogging/i-rock/, again producing possible double content on your site. This might change in the future versions of WordPress, but at least for me, this seems to be the case in WordPress 2.7.x.

Install these beneficial plugins to automate maintenance tasks before editing your posts

When editing the posts, you don't want to lose the backlinks and want to make sure people coming through the backlinks to your blog find the newly linked posts.

You should also decide if you want to use tags as your *only* way of structure on your site, you would probably be better off when you prevent your categories from being indexed. Or the other way around, if you want to use tags as the *only* way of structure, prevent your tags from being indexed with noindex settings. This matter has not been researched too much, so it is ok to let both categories and tags indexed, but some experts in Search Engine Optimization think that indexing them both might hurt your ranking in search engines because of the double content.

To handle the redirecting to the new permalinks and the noindexing of either tags or categories, if you decide to use that, these are the best pluging I've come across to handle those matters:

Redirection -plugin

Redirection will manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors. You can use Redirection for link masking and set your custom redirects, but the real benefit of the plugin when editing your posts is that Redirection -plugin automatically creates redirect from the old permalink to the new one when you edit the your posts permalink or the permalink structure! If you are not using categories or tags in the permalink, you don't need this, but install Redirection plugin anyway, because if you happen to change your permalink structure, you don't have to think about the redirection issues as they are all done automatically. So all the links you have for your posts will still work and people coming through the backlinks will be redirected to the new permalink. And you don't have to do anything else but to install this plugin. It's a kind of magic!

All in One SEO Pack

You should have this on your blog anyway, but if you don't go install it, it will do a great deal for your site in terms of search engine visibility.

In category and tag editing context, you should check the noindex -settings in the All in One SEO Pack: This is useful for avoiding duplicate content.

By setting this you can decide what is the main way you structure your site, and disable indexing for the other:

  • Use noindex for Categories
  • Use noindex for Archives
  • Use noindex for Tag Archives

Similar functionality with noindexing can also be found from Robots Meta -plugin (http://yoast.com/wordpress/robots-meta/), and it has additional functions for robots ("commands" for search engines) in addition to the noindex -settings for tags and categories, for example disabling the author archive might be worth it, if you are the only user and blogger in your blog. So I recommend that you install both, Robots Meta and All in One SEO Pack to your blog.

Now you have all the preparation done for bulk editing your posts:

  • Permalink structure re-defined if necessary
  • Redirection -plugin installed to automatically handle redirections to the new permalinks
  • All in ONE SEO and Robots Meta -plugins handling the noindexing for robots -definitions if you decide to focus how your site is indexed to either tags or categories.

After the above is in order, you are ready to start editing your posts..

Integrated Mass Edit in WordPress 2.7 and onwards

Manageable -plugin has been integrated into the WordPress when 2.7 was released.

How the Bulk Edit works

  1. Go to the "Posts" and "Edit".
  2. Select any number of posts from the "Edit Posts" page
  3. Select "Edit" from the "Bulk Actions" pull-down menu
  4. Click Apply

From the "Bulk Edit Posts" -menu: Add Categories, Tags and other attributes to all those posts at the same time.

The problem with Bulk Edit is that you can only ADD categories and tags, you cannot remove them.

Bulk Edit will help you adding new categories and tags to many posts, but this won't help with managing too complicated category-/tag-tweaking, which is especially needed when handling hundreds or thousands of posts imported from old blog, like Blogger, for example.

The solution is to remove the unwanted categories and tags (something you probably want to do anyway, when re-categorizing and re-tagging your blog)

More Advanced Category and Tag Editing of Huge Amount of Posts

If you have a lot of posts to go through that don't have very descriptive titles, mass editing your posts can take a long time, but it's worth it. After cleaning up the old categories and tags, and editing the new category and tags into the posts, your WordPress blog will have much cleaner navigation and archive structure which will help both you and your readers to navigate the posts more easily.

The most simple solution is to handle the categories and tags for large amounts of posts is first removing all tags and categories you already have, and then adding the new tags and categories into the posts with the bulk edit.

REMOVE ALL tags and categories you have on your blog.

To remove and edit the tags:

  1. GO TO the Tags page (Posts >> Tags screen)
  2. SELECT all tags by clicking the checkbox over all the tags
  3. CHOOSE Delete from the "Bulk Actions" pull-down menu

Tags page only shows 20 or so tags on one page, so repeat until you have all tags deleted.

If you imported your posts from Blogger, you don't have any Categories in, apart from the default ones or the ones you have already added.

To remove and edit the categories:

  1. DELETE the old categories using the same process and then
  2. ADD new ones from the Category-page.

After CLEANING the old tags and categories, go to the Edit Posts -page, and

ADD Categories and Tags using the Bulk Edit Posts -function

Before you start editing, go add new categories in the Category edit -page, if you didn't do that yet.

  1. Go to the "Posts" and "Edit".
  2. Select any number of posts from the "Edit Posts" page
  3. Select "Edit" from the "Bulk Actions" pull-down menu
  4. Click Apply
  5. Choose Category for all the chosen posts
  6. Add Tags for all the chosen posts
  7. Set other options if necessary (usually not)
  8. Click Apply
  9. Repeat for more posts

Why you should have a clear category and tag structure on your blog

First, it helps you when you're writing new content as you immediately know what ONE Category the posts should go to, or if there is no clear category, you know to add one. And adding Tags to your posts should become a second nature when you have a good selection of tags already created and you know what kind of posts and content you have tagged with each tag.

Editing large amount of posts might be bit labor intensive, but how I handled it was that I simplified the categorizing and tagging a great deal when I edited my posts imported from blogger. So I only used ONE CATEGORY for posts - this is very useful for SEO and linking practises on your blog as it avoids double content and post having several permalinks if you're using /%category%/%postname%/ permalink structure. And for the imported blogger posts, I simply added one or two tags per post and later went through all the posts and added more if I felt that post needed more tags so the posts could be found more easily.

The most important thing about categories and tags is that you use them consistently, so posts related to each other have common category and you can supplement that with tagging. Usually 2-8 tags per post works well. And always remember to optimize all this, categories, posts, tags and your blog for your readers. Search engine optimization will follow through.

Afterword on Mass Editing Your Posts, Choosing Categories and Tags for Your blog, etc.

Thinking through and choosing the right categories and tags for your blog is important. With this guide you can edit your old blogs categories and tags by mass editing the posts, and here's further reading to help you to improve your categorizing, tagging and deciding the categories and tags for your blog:

Additional Resources on Categories and Tags:

That's all, I hope you found this article helpful and again, share your thoughts, ask your questions or give me feedback on this article by leave a comment.

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