Whenever I write a new blog post, I always think about which category suits the post best. I keep the number of categories that I have at a minimal level so that an appropriate category for every blog post is immediately obvious to me.
My rule of thumb for naming categories is, if you’ve got two categories that can overlap each other in an obvious manner, then you’ve got to change something there. Either merge the two categories, or remove one and expand the remaining one. I also tend to review my categories every few months, and if I have a category with less than 10 posts, then I ax it and merge the posts with that category into another category.
At my own blog, for example, my only categories are:
None of those categories can overlap in an obvious way; instead, they complement each other. This means that if I made a post about me attending a web 2.0 conference, I would probably categorize it under ‘conference’, ‘technology’, and ‘web’ because it’s a conference, it’s about technology, and it’s more specifically about the web.
If you create really specific categories, then your readers automatically tune out from them because they can’t tell the difference between one category and another. If a reader reads one of your posts and sees that it’s categorized as ‘coding’ and ‘programming’, how do they know which category is more relevant to what they are looking for? If they see ‘business’ and ‘web’, though, then they have a better idea.
The thing to remember is that your readers will consider a post to be in different categories than you placed it in, so if you keep your categories as distinctive as possible, then your readers will be more likely to categorize your posts like you did, which in turn will make it easier for them to find what they were looking for all along.
Gary King is a professional freelance web developer, primarily using Ruby on Rails and PHP to create cool new websites. When he’s not trying to take over the world one blog at a time, you can find him mulling over his thoughts at King Gary.