In the last tutorial in Lorelle’s WordPress School I talked about WordPress addresses and URLs. In this tutorial, I want to cover what happens when a post or Page title is forgotten and left blank, and how that impacts the web page address. This discussion includes your first glance at the WordPress database.
We all do it. A slip of the memory, rushing to publish, the post title is forgotten, left blank. We hit publish, satisfied that everything is fine, our article flying out to the world of subscribers and social media, have a cup of tea to rejoice, then look at the front of our site and discover that the title is missing. Panic ensues.
Like the book said, don’t panic. This is all fixable, and survivable.
WordPress uses the MySQL database to contain and manage all the site’s options and data. When a post or Page is added to your site, the content and related data is stored in the database table and given an ID number, usually in sequential order. As covered in the previous assignment, the ID number becomes the underlying URL for that post.
This is the link for the post or Page ID for 1234.
Another new concept and WordPress term you need to learn is the slug, specifically the post and Page slug. This is the contextual version of the web page address such as this example featuring
my-post-is-awesome as the post slug.
When publishing a post or Page, if you forget the post or Page title, the ID becomes the post slug and the title is blank.
This causes confusion for the reader as there is no post title to click on to view the whole post, and no post title to tell them what the post is about.
To fix this issue, simply updating the post or Page isn’t enough. It takes one more step.
- Edit the post or Page
- Add the title
- Under the title is the Permalink go to the end of the address and click the Edit button
- Write in the title of the post or Page. You may use spaces, upper or lower case, punctuation, and hyphens.
- Click OK. WordPress will automatically clean up the slug to a safe address.
- Click Update
Check the front view of your site to ensure the post title appears correctly.
What You Need to Know About Forgetting the Post Title
When you forget the post title when publishing, here are a few things you need to know.
- Address Still Works: Whether the post slug is 1234 or
dancing-the-night-away, a link to either address will find the post. This is part of what WordPress calls canonical URL.
- Feeds: We haven’t discussed feeds yet, but these are contextual versions of your site picked by people using feed readers and syndication tools and services. Once a post is published in WordPress, it goes out immediately as is and the content isn’t updated. A visit to the site or a refresh of the feed will show the updates, but your post just went out without its title on.
- Email Subscriptions and Followers: Subscribers to your site’s email notification and follow services just got a post without a title. They are fans. They will forgive you. Maybe.
- Social Media: If the site is set up to push out notifications of new posts automatically to social media, it just went out without a title. Just make sure a title is there for when they come to read the article.
None of these things are fatal. Even I’ve done this more than a few times. We will all live and the show will go on, just avoid doing it in the first place. This is why I highly recommend working directly from the WordPress Publishing Checklist for the first few weeks or so of WordPress use until you learn to check all the little details before you hit publish.
Your assignment today is easy, with a second lesson in the mix.
- Create a test post on your test site. Not important for there to have content of value in it.
- Forget the title. Leave it blank.
- Do not set any categories or tags.
- Publish the post
- View the front page of your site. Do you see the post on the front page? Try to find a way to click it to view it as a single post pageview (just the post itself). Can you figure it out?
- Look at the categories for that post. What is it? When you do not choose a category, what category does that post go into automatically? Is that a category you want on your site? Hmmm. Spoilers.
- Return to the Edit Screen tab and add the title. Update the post
- Switch to the post preview tab and refresh. Check for the post title. It should now appear.
- Check the URL of the post. Does it show the new post title?
- Switch back to the Edit Screen tab and edit the post slug. Make it the same or different from the post title you just added. Click Okay, and update the post
- Switch to the post preview tab and refresh. Did the address change?
After experimenting with the post title and slug, you may delete the post from your test site.
Again, when working on your own sites and with client sites, remind them to add the post and Page title before publishing. It saves time and work later.
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Introduction
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Description
- WordPress School Tutorials List
- WordPress School Google+ Community
- WordPress Publishing Checklist
- How to Give Feedback and Criticism