What The Different WordPress User Roles Mean

  • 4 min read

WordPress is an amazing tool for creating a website or blog or really whatever you want your online home to be.

However, because it has SO much functionality it can be a lot to learn.

And it seems the learning is ongoing. Because you probably got it understood to a certain level, and then you level up….

You go from being just you to needing to give others access to the backend of your site.

In this post, I’m going to break down the differences between the various WordPress User Roles. Which means deciding what different users can and cannot do on your site.

What are the available WordPress User Roles?

The main WordPress User Roles are:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

If when you’re creating a new account you’re seeing other user roles available, it’s likely from one of your plugins.

For example, if you use Yoast SEO it adds in SEO Manager and SEO Editor roles. So your user roles list might look like this:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber
  • SEO Editor
  • SEO Manager

What Each User Role Means

Now, let’s dig into each role and what their capabilities are, that way you know when to use them.

The Administrator Role

This role is the top dog, it can do everything within a single site. This means things like:

  • Adding, activating, or deleting plugins
  • Adding, scheduling, or deleting pages or posts
  • Change up your dashboard
  • Managing, adding, changing categories and tags
  • Switch themes
  • Upload files (for example, graphics)
  • Remove users
  • Moderate comments

Because they can do everything on a single site, it’s important that you are careful with who has this level access.

The Editor Role

Editors have the ability to manage content by various users. They’re able to:

  • Add, edit, or delete posts or pages (including pages they didn’t create, unlike authors)
  • Manage categories
  • Manage links (meaning they can add links)
  • Moderate comments
  • Upload files

Similar to the administrator role, the editor’s role should only be granted to someone that knows what they are doing and that you trust with your site.

The Author Role

An author’s access and abilities is primarily limited to the content they create. They cannot create pages or edit posts created by others.

Those granted the Author role can:

  • Create, edit, delete, or publish their own posts.
  • Upload files (which is likely if you require them to add images to the content)

Typically you would grant the author role to someone that regularly writes for your site, especially given that they are able to publish posts without requiring your approval.

The Contributor Role

Assigning the contributor role is perfect for someone that doesn’t regularly write for your site. Think guest posts or other short term authors. They can:

  • Edit and Delete posts

So they can write a post but would not be able to upload images (like a featured image) or publish the post.

The Subscriber Role

The subscriber role only allows the user to read posts or other content after they’ve been published on the front end.

Chances are you shouldn’t have a lot of subscribers unless you use something like a membership plugin to manage a membership on your site.

If you do have a lot of subscribers – you can likely safely delete them.

The SEO Editor Role

If you’re like most bloggers and using the Yoast SEO plugin then there are a couple of additional roles available to you including the SEO editor role.

The SEO Editor has the ability to:

  • Set up redirects

They cannot:

  • Edit the advanced metadata (the snippet that shows in Google under a result)
  • Edit the settings of Yoast SEO

If you have a bunch of redirects to do then the SEO Editor role is perfect but if you’re needing more advanced SEO help, then you’ll likely want to go with the SEO Manager role.

The SEO Manager Role

The SEO Manager can do everything the SEO Editor can do and:

  • Manage the Yoast SEO Settings
  • Edit the Advanced metadata
  • Do bulk updates

Keep in mind that these roles only show up on your site if you are using the Yoast SEO plugin. If you are using some other SEO plugin, you might see other options.

Bottom Line

Depending on the plugins you use you may see even more WordPress User Role options, but the following are the default for WordPress:

  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

If you want to learn even more about them, you can check out this article from WordPress.

Related: What to Know About Self-Hosting

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