How many Categories or Subjects does your Blog Need?

Categories - Lightning by Domianek CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

Categories are meant for broad group­ings of your posts. Think of these as gener­al topics or the table of contents for your site. Categories are there to help identi­fy what your blog is really about. It is to assist readers finding the right type of content on your site”. ~ WP Beginner

“There are many benefits to creat­ing and maintain­ing a well thought out category and tagging system when blogging. For one, the user exper­i­ence can be vastly improved by well-constructed navig­a­tion­al elements. But secondly, categor­ies and tags offer an oppor­tun­ity to increase traffic to your site via search engines”. ~ Manage WP.

How many Categories do you use?

Categories/Folders by Geralt CC0 Public Domain from PixabayThis is an import­ant question. Too many bloggers give categor­ies too little thought. As a result they create too many or none at all. 
Do you still have a category called “uncat­egor­ized?” Most blogs do. How much mater­i­al is held against this category? If you haven’t thought much about categor­isa­tion before now then, chances are most of your posts will be uncat­egor­ised. You would never put all of your work things into a single pile, you would sort them into folders, either in a filing cabin­et or in folders in your shelf. This is the job  categor­ies perform for your blog.
It is time to rethink this part of your blog and struc­ture it correctly.
What is too many categor­ies? I hear you asking. If you have more than 20 then the chances are you have too many.

How to use Categories

“The number of categor­ies you ought to have varies, but the fewer the better both for you and the reader”, Julie Neidlinger of CoSchedule says.
Think about your favour­ite newspa­per (or the last one you read). No matter how outdated you may consider the medium there are things we can learn from them. Consider the layout. They have various sections, such as:
  • Local news.
  • National news.
  • International news.
  • Business news.
  • Lifestyle.
  • Entertainment.
  • Sports.
  • Property section.
  • Obituraies.
  • Classifieds.
Depending on where you are there may be anoth­er three or four sections. Truth is newspa­pers, even the largest, are limited to about ten to fifteen sections. Some of the sections have sub-sections e.g. the types of classi­fied ads, etc. The point being made here is that articles etc. that is published is done so under a limited number of categor­ies or sections. The same should be true for the blog.
What are the top subjects you cover? Write a gener­al­ised list — do not be too specif­ic. There may be some overlap between the topics. For example market­ing will have overlaps with both techno­logy and advert­ising for a small business devel­op­ment blog. Case studies may also be a category you wish to use. This subject may be tangen­tial to others, but it provides the option to look at specif­ic examples that may interest the reader. Some are pure market­ing examples other may be technic­al case studies.

Categories versus Keywords/Tags

The purpose of the category is break down your blog into the compon­ent sections. Being organ­ised. A keyword or tag also serves to organ­ise your work, but in a differ­ent way. It helps readers find things. You would be right to ask how categor­ies and keywords differ. They are both tools that help organ­ise your writing for the reader.
Finding things by Geralt CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay
This site has a drop-down list of categor­ies on the sidebar to aid navig­a­tion to relev­ant mater­i­al. It is the best way to display categor­ies. The categor­ies are gener­ally a fixed list, set when the blog was created. New categor­ies are added only in rare circum­stances. On the other­hand new keywords are likely added for every new article, but articles may also reuse keywords/tags. Keywords are more focused, you may have hundreds on your blog. They used to be refer­enced by Google and other search engines. Search engines today independ­ently index your page. These keywords have more relev­ance for local (on page) searches.
Keywords used in this article are listed at the bottom of this page. Other keywords are select­able on the sidebar, giving the reader other navig­a­tion options. Any article will gener­ally have between eight and twenty keywords. They are based on topics touched within the words of the article. Headers, such as H2 content make a good found­a­tion for keywords. They aid intern­al search­ing within the blog. 
You should be aware that it is possible to search a blog for items that are neither keywords nor categor­ies.

Avoid Sub-Categories

WordPress provides the ability to create a hierarchy of categor­ies. In most instances you should look for a simple and flat category struc­ture. If you have sub-categories then in all probab­il­ity you are over-thinking things.

Organising by Category

Staying organised by Mohamed1982eg CC0 Public Domain from PixabayIf you write a blog about farming you may create a number of differ­ent categor­ies (subjects which you frequently write about). You create them to stay organ­ised. These may include a simple list, like:
  • Livestock
  • Crops
  • Almanac
  • Marketing
  • Government regula­tions
Each article published should relate strongly to one of these categor­ies (although it may also relate to many). Generally though the topic is best is collec­ted under one or two categor­ies.
Something written about new govern­ment rules on treat­ment of livestock diseases, would be posted under “govern­ment regula­tions” but you may place it under “livestock” as well. In a way you have to think about how the reader may look at your site and how they may find your mater­i­al.

Maintaining Categories

“Does (your site) include categor­ies you used a couple of years ago but don’t use any more?” Asks Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. He is right to ask the question. The categor­ies you use should be an active part of your blog. You may not have published an article under that category for a couple of months, but you are prepar­ing one for the category then it is still active.
If you no longer write about a specif­ic topic (or it is now out of date) then you should consider remov­ing it. Each of the articles using the, now defunct category, need to be moved to anoth­er place.
Laying out your blog by category there should be plenty of mater­i­al for a reader to access in each category. Some will be more popular than others, but you should add at least one post per year for each category on your blog.

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What are your thoughts about the categor­ies to use on your blog? Something to contrib­ute? Please leave a comment. If you like this article, we appre­ci­ate any donations to GobbledeGoox. All images here were sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay, Unsplash or simil­ar sites.

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