Creating Effective Categories: 9 Tips

If you’re just starting a new weblog, consider that not choosing effective blog categories can affect your search engine rankings. After two years of regular blogging, I’ve made a lot of mistakes re my categories for my oldest blogs. I’m now of the firm opinion that you have to think of each category archive page as a home page itself. You can build some of your site’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) authority through your category archives. Here are a few tips for creating worthwhile blog categories.

  1. Be broad but descriptive.
    Categories should be broad rather than very specific, but should not be too general. Specificity will come from the keywords in your articles. Fragmenting category topics further means you’ll end up with too many categories at some point in your blog’s future. Picking good categories means knowing what your blog is really about.
  2. Don’t be wordy.
    One or two words for a category name is best. You don’t want long sentences but you do want user-centric categories.
  3. Minimize categories.
    Limit the number of categories, else you run the risk of having too few articles in each one. There’s no hard and fast rule, but I now try to limit a blog to no more than 15 – fewer if possible. Authority of category archives comes partly from the quantity of articles in each category.
  4. Be conservative.
    Only create categories as you need them. If you strongly feel a new article needs a new category, then add a suitable category, keeping it broad enough to represent future articles. If you think that a category will only ever have one or two articles, then you need to rethink that category. Can it be incorporated with something else?
  5. Build authority.
    Link to your category pages from within article text, on occasion, even with alternate anchor text. This can add SERPs authority to your category archives.
  6. To multi-categorize or not.
    This is a controversial point. I always use 1-3 categories for every article I post in a blog, though there may be some justification in using one category per post.
  7. Sub-categories are unnecessary.
    Some blog platforms allow you to create sub-categories under a parent category. This is unnecessary, and sometimes makes your navigation look awkward.
  8. Use your blog platform.
    Tags are not categories. No need to use tagging from Technorati or other sites, unless your blog platform does not have categories. If it does not, you could use Technorati or del.icio.us tags (Blogger/ Blogpost-specific). Alternately, you could categorize manually.
  9. Emphasize category volume.
    Most new visitors to a blog want to know what it’s about, and they often turn to the categories, hoping to get some idea of how many articles are in each. You can do this by displaying the number of posts and/or using a tag cloud.