How to Edit WordPress Categories in Bulk

How to Edit WordPress Categories in Bulk

Posted 11 March, 2015 in Blogging Tips / 10 Comments

This Bumblings Blog Tip is part of March’s Be a Better Blogger challenge: clean up your categories.

If you’re anything like me, you said you were going to be so good with your categories when you started your blog.

“They’re going to be so organized, work so well with tags, and I’m never going to let them get out of control. Five categories, at most, ever.”

Heh, yeah. Sure, Brittany of the past. But don’t worry. I’ll clean up your mess now. And it won’t even take that long, #likeaboss.

How Categories Get Out of Control

It started out great. All good plans do. But then it gets muddled.

Take my categories:

When I first started this blog last June, I created a category for “Blog Tours.” I realized that, with how my blog was at the time, “Blog Tours” was too broad of a category. I was doing so many of them that pretty much every post was in that category. So I split them into the type of tour stop.

Then there was “Excerpt,” “Cover Reveal,” “Releases,” “Interviews,” “Guest Posts” and the remaining “Blog Tours” for posts I wasn’t planning on participating in frequently enough to warrant their own categories. Things like character interviews and playlists.

And for awhile, that worked. It was a lot of categories, but at the time, it was the best way to organize my blog.

Now, though. I’m not doing those types of blog tour stops at all anymore. I pretty much do reviews. So lumping them back into one general category seems best again. Sure, it will have a lot of posts, spanning only a short period of time, but that’s better than having a ton of categories that haven’t been updated in forever.

Quick Tip

It’s only natural for a blog’s focus to change over time. There’s nothing wrong with that. But one side effect is that your old category setup won’t fit with your “new” blog. Every now and then, go back and evaluate your categories. Do they still make sense for what you blog about? If not, it’s time to restructure them.

The Good News

Even if you have a hundred posts in a category you’re getting rid of or changing, it still won’t be too hard. WordPress has a fabulous bulk edit feature for posts, and I would assume Blogger would have something similar with labels.

I just went through the following directions for my old “Cover Reveal” category to change everything over, and it took less than five minutes. That included taking screenshots for this post. It will take a little longer if you have more than one page of posts to go through in one category, since you’ll have to repeat a few steps a few times.

But still, super easy. super quick.

How to Bulk Edit WordPress Categories

Note: I’m just showing my steps, which included changing all posts in the category, moving them to another, replacing the category with a tag, deleting the category, and redirecting the old category URL to the new tag URL. Your tweaks might be slightly different, but you’ll still find you’re able to follow these steps to help. Whether you’re adding a new category, deleting an old one, or just switching some posts over.

Step One: Go to the “All Posts” page. At the top of the screen, you have several options for sorting and filtering what posts show up. Select the category you want to delete from the drop-down menu, then click the “Filter” button.

(Click on screenshot to enlarge it)

wordpress all posts view

(Yes, I actually use the Hello, Dolly! plugin. Because Barbra Streisand.)

Step Two: Once you’re viewing only posts in the desired category, check the checkbox in the top/navigation row of the table displaying your posts. From the “Bulk Actions” menu, select “Edit,” and click the “Apply” button.

If you’re not changing the category of every post on the list, just select the posts you need to.

(Click on screenshot to enlarge it)

wordpress posts by category


Step Three: This will take you to the bulk edit screen. Any changes you make here will be applied to all of the posts checked, so be careful. What I did here was add all of the current “Cover Reveals” posts to the “Blog Tours” category, as well as adding a “cover reveal” tag.

When you’re finished making tweaks, scroll to the bottom of the bulk edit area and click the “Update” button.

(Click on screenshot to enlarge it)

wordpress bulk post editing


Step Four: Go to your “Categories” page (find it under the “Posts” sidebar menu). Find the category you’re getting rid of, hover over it, click “Delete,” and complete the confirmation. Voila! Your categories are a little cleaner.

Except…if you or anyone else has ever linked to that category’s archive page, the link will be broken.

Step Five: To fix the broken link created when you deleted a category, you’ll need to set up a redirect. I recommend the Simple 301 Redirects plugin.

How it works is that you add the slug of the old, broken URL in the first column, (in this case, it was /category/covers), and the URL you want it to redirect to in the second column (

Save changes, and tada! It works!

wordpress simple 301 redirects


As you can see, it’s really easy. Gotta love WordPress, they do make things so simple. So repeating that, without stopping to take and annotate screenshots, should take about two minutes. My goal is to get rid of 10 categories, changing a ton of posts. But right now it is Wednesday at 7:30 pm. I feel like I could finish by 8:00.

And if your categories need some work, be sure to join this month’s Be a Better Blogger challenge!

Have you ever changed your category structure? How did it go?

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How to Edit WordPress Categories in Bulk

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