I have a Wordpress website with 20+ categories. To make it easier to navigate I want to decrease the categories, but at the same time keep the original categories. In other words I want to be able to query multiple categories with a category group or a virtual slug.

Example categories:


I want to be able to query all three of them with a unique url slug:


But like I said, it should still be possible to go to i.e. /category/bananas/

I know it's possible to query multiple categories the way I want to using /category/apples,bananas,pears/ but it's not a elegant solution.

Is it possible to do this virtual grouping with a plugin or even using a rewrite?

Tips and recommendations are greatly appreciated!

  • I do not want to use subcategories for this. Any other suggestions are welcome!
    – Chris
    Nov 4, 2012 at 12:58
  • Bump, I am sure there is someone out there who knows what I want to do without using parent categories.
    – chrismaaz
    Nov 9, 2012 at 18:15

2 Answers 2


You could override your query with pre_get_posts in functions.php:

function add_all_fruits_to_category($query) {
    $catnames = $query->get('category_name');
    if ($catnames == 'fruits') {
        $query->set('category_name', $catnames . ',bananas,apples,pears');
add_action('pre_get_posts', 'add_all_fruits_to_category');
  • Thanks Virgil! This is what I wanted from the getko! It works very well, except that I get a couple of warning messages: Warning: rtrim() expects parameter 1 to be string, object given in wp-includes/formatting.php on line 1381 Catchable fatal error: Object of class WP_Error could not be converted to string in /wp-content/plugins/wordpress-seo/frontend/class-frontend.php on line 735. Any idea how to fix this?
    – chrismaaz
    May 17, 2013 at 18:56
  • Interestingly enough, I got the same problem today, but only as I tried to set category_name to '' and filter with cat. I couldn't solve it by any other means than sticking with category_name. May 17, 2013 at 19:17
  • I am not sure I follow you here? What did you change exactly?
    – chrismaaz
    May 18, 2013 at 11:38
  • Bump, anyone know what's wrong?
    – chrismaaz
    May 23, 2013 at 11:35

Wouldn't WordPress's built-in sub-categories functionality solve this problem?

 + fruit
  + bananas
  + apples
  + pears

you would get all of fruit through


but also specific categories through


to add a sub-category, just choose fruit as the parent category for each child.

  • I do not want to use any subcategories. This defeats the purpose of keeping the original categories and permalinks. I also like to keep it this way because of SEO reasons.
    – Chris
    Nov 3, 2012 at 17:26
  • Hmm. Would it then not be simpler to try and hide bananas, apples, and pears from the navigation, but keep them as categories? That might be less work than finding a plugin that rewrites the handling of categories fundamentally
    – Pekka
    Nov 3, 2012 at 17:28
  • What I want is to be able to place a link to these virtual categories in my navigation and display posts attached to these categories.
    – Chris
    Nov 3, 2012 at 17:30
  • @Chris as said, it would probably be easier to have fruit as a separate (but real) category in your category tree, alongside bananas, apples, and pears, but hiding those in the menu. So an apple entry is both in the /apple and the /fruit category, but only the /fruit category is visible in the menu. (But /apple still works for SEO). Is that a workable option? I'm not aware of a plugin that does exactly what you want (although there may be one)
    – Pekka
    Nov 3, 2012 at 17:33
  • I understand what you are saying, but that would require to create new parent categories for the navigation and then move the 20+ categories into those as child categories. I want to still be able to use all my inlinks to my pages and I believe regrouping the categories this way will create alot of 404 pages, true?
    – Chris
    Nov 3, 2012 at 17:34

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