Blog Post Category Trauma: Suggestions for Useless Categories

Filed as Features on July 23, 2007 4:12 am

Recently, I asked you to answer the following question:

Who thinks these are effective post categories?

  • I’ve Been Thinking
  • Some Blog Stuff
  • More Blog Stuff
  • My Thoughts
  • About My Car
  • Dreams and Wishes
  • Left Over Junk

There were some interesting answers.

Mandrill said:

1 – too vague, they don’t give any clues as to what is covered by them.
2 – The category title should be directly related to the subject matter.

That’s very close, and part of the problem.

Angelo said:

I think it’s a matter of people using their categories as tags. It’s okay if you’re not much for organizing your blog posts under particular taxonomies. But if you’re strict with categorizing content as such, then I think categories should be more descriptive of the general topics of the blog posts under them.

Categories are tags, but tags aren’t always categories, so that’s a good answer.

Adam makes a good point:

These categories are no good because they’re redundant. They could be consolidated into two categories: My Thoughts and My Car.

Jan takes a cynical view but makes a good point:

Well, if you are the kind of blogger who actually post “Useless Information” or “Left Over Junk” then I find it mighty nice of you to make sure I don’t accidentally stumble over it by putting it into a separate category.

Josh makes a very good point about our rights to choose anything we want for our categories:

I can see everyone’s point of view here but I also think that individuals should have free reign on their blogs. If the person’s blog I am reading is someone I like or have interest in, of course I am going to read the “I’ve Been Thinking”, “My Thoughts”, or “Dreams and Wishes.” I think that blogs should be less about legalities or bad category names and more about people sharing information with the world.

Alfa appears to believe that categories should be treated differently for personal blogs versus business blogs.

I think I’m using worse categories then with “rants”, “food”, “bragging rights”, “pleasure” and other obscure categories. But I guess it really depends on whether you’re running a personal blog or a business or a paid blog.

Rhys said:

Well, anything with thoughts or thinking in it is a bad category, as when is that NOT about your blog (your thoughts on technology, your thoughts on sport, your thoughts on politics etc.)

Useless information is well…useless (who’s going to search for that on google) and so is Junk.

Ah, the answer lies within there, but Allen Taylor wins for getting it right on:

If I can’t go to a search engine and type in the word or phrase and be certain that I’ll find the type of information that I’m looking for then it’s not a good category.

Who’s going to search for “useless junk” or “some blog stuff” or “I’ve been thinking”? Have you searched with those terms? Maybe if you were bored.

Exploring Blog Categories

As Josh said, you can label your categories anything you want. If it doesn’t matter to you, and you think it doesn’t matter to your readers, use your imagination. Call your categories anything you want.

However, I’ve had many bloggers come to me over the years whining about a lack of traffic and attention. I tell them that if you want to be found you have to write and prepare your blog to be found.

Getting found means using keywords people are searching for.

Categories serve several purposes.

  • Categories catalog your content.
  • Categories create web page collections of related content.
  • Categories offer a table of contents for your blog.
  • Categories define your blog’s content and purpose.
  • Categories create “stickiness”, giving visitors a reason to dig deeper into your content.
  • Readers love categories as provides related content which might provide more answers and information on what they are searching for.
  • Category pages get indexed as unique pages on search engines.
  • Google’s new PageRank gives higher scores to content categorization, an indication that the blogger understands their content and categorized it appropriately.
  • Categories are keywords and search terms.

With this much importance on your blog categories, how much attention are you paying to your category titles?

It’s a treasure map quest to search through a web page looking for the answer. So why not leave really big markers leading them to the treasure?

Content-specific keyword category titles direct the visitor towards them. If the post they arrived on doesn’t have the answer, it may lay in the direction of that category link. Here may lie buried treasure!

Category titles must be clear, specific, and concise. Just as your post titles must represent your post content, so categories define their contents. Don’t make your visitors guess what lies behind door number two. Your categories aren’t a mystery to be solved, they are a road map into your blog.

The best category titles are search terms. This gives your blog a better chance to be found in search results.

As people search, within their search results may lie your blog post with those search terms within it, and your category pages, collections of your posts within that keyword-specific category. Category pages which are named with search terms, featuring content filled with those search terms, may rise higher in the search results.

Most of all, clear and specific category titles define your blog’s content, making a good first impression when a new visitor arrives.

Tomorrow, I’ll cover how we fixed those useless categories for this blogger and share some of the insights we learned along the path.

Blog Post Category Trauma Article Series

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  1. By dandellion posted on July 23, 2007 at 4:04 am
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    Somehow categories and tags were always two different ways of thinking to me. I always relied on my tag cloud, saying what subjects post is covering. With a nice WP plugin, they also gives related posts on the end of each one. But, categories are hell for me. Just after I set them happily (meaning I will not fall in the trap of having a post that can be in two categories at the same time) I find out that I just wrote something that I don’t know where to put.
    I don’t see it usefull to repeat the same thing with categories as with tags. Tags cover subjects, categories feels more broad, appealing to the feeling of the post… like easy reading, analysys, story, links…. but I never succeded in putting that to the final. :(

    Reply

  2. Weblog Qjm.be » Blog Archive » Blog categorie: welke keuze maak je?July 23, 2007 at 5:57 am
  3. By Lorelle posted on July 23, 2007 at 8:52 pm
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    You can put a post in multiple categories. Why not?

    Categories are your table of contents, and tags are like index words. And I often put a single post in more than one category. All the time.

    Reply

  4. By dandellion posted on July 23, 2007 at 9:43 pm
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    I know I can, but somehow I try not to. Hmmm… maybe that is a bad habit.

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  5. By dandellion posted on July 23, 2007 at 9:44 pm
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    I know I can, but somehow I try not to. It always seemed to me that if post can go in two categories at the same time, that I made my categories bad. But, I can be wrong about that.

    Reply

  6. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on July 23, 2007 at 10:53 pm
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    I don’t understand. If I write a blog post about podcasting in WordPress, and I have a podcasting and WordPress Tips category, I’d want the post in both categories. That way, if you are looking for information on podcasting, you would find it in that category. If you are looking for WordPress Tips, and stumble across how to add podcasts to your WordPress blog, and you realize that this is something you would like to do with your WordPress blog, then I’ve just made a new friend. :D

    You can put your post in ten categories, but if you do, you might want to reconsider your categories and make them a little more specific.

    Reply

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  12. By Australian posted on February 14, 2008 at 11:21 pm
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    It there is any more importance of useless category in blogs?

    Reply

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