Anyone new to WordPress might wonder what the difference is between posts and pages. When you’re getting acquainted with the WordPress dashboard, posts and pages stand out as the two most appropriate places to write your content, but they look almost identical.
The TL;DR is that posts are part of the blog system of WordPress, often published by date and arranged in reverse chronological order. They are organized with categories and tags. Pages stand alone outside of that blogging structure, and are not dependent on the publication date.
If that still seems a little murky, keep reading.
A Brief Look Into History
Back in the olden days of the late 90s and the early 2000s, blogging was just getting started. Teenagers posted their angst on LiveJournal. Blogger was a more professional blogging platform.
Blogger was bought by Google in 2003 and you can still sometimes find it in use today. WordPress was initially released in 2003 and started out as another way to create a blog.
All of these early platforms were designed to be online journals. You would write a post that was the equivalent of a journal entry, and it would be dated and appear at the top of your journal. Every post had a date and was chronologically ordered. Posts were grouped by month and year to create an archive.
That was all fine, but something immediately became a problem: what if you wanted to make an “About Us” page or a “Contact Us” page? If you created a post, titled it About Us, and published it, it would be at the top of your list of posts, at first.
As soon as you wrote a new post, your About Us post would be bumped down. Pretty soon, after you published a few more new posts, your About Us post would be lost within the archives.
Pages were invented to solve this. The blogging platforms each released another type of content that existed outside of the archival system and wasn’t dependent on the date of publication. Pages could be created and added to the blog’s main navigation and they would stay there forever.
Nowadays, posts are still used as blog posts but don’t have to be. Posts can be used for any type of content, and you don’t even have to show the publication date if you’d prefer your content to be more evergreen.
It’s still a best practice for posts to be organized into categories. Categories help group your content into useful topics, and you can even link to your category archives in your navigation menu.
Tags can be used in a similar way, but think of them more like hashtags on social media—instead of category groups, they’re more like keywords.
Pages usually don’t use categories or tags. Unless you have a specific reason to do so and want to develop that feature or use a plugin.
Pages are outside of the archiving system, so they’re not found by year or month, and they won’t be pushed down an archive page after new content is published above them. Instead, they exist as standalone pages on the website and are linked to within the header or footer navigation.
Aside: What Does “Blog” Actually Mean?
The word “blog” is short for “weblog.” Jorn Barger, the author of a blog called Robot Wisdom, coined the term in 1997.
Since the word “blog” refers to the entire blog section of your website, a common mistake people make is to refer to each individual post as a blog. Each individual post is a “blog post” and the collection of all blog posts is a “blog.”
You can think of it in the format of an SAT question:
blog is to website
blog post is to web page
Now that you have a better understanding of what posts and pages are, go forth and create your WordPress content!