When I first started blogging I didn’t realize the importance categories play in terms of archiving content.
Most blogs allow for the use of categories, and I wouldn’t choose a blog platform that doesn’t. Of those that do, most allow you to create a category on the fly. Typepad, for example, has a feature that enables you to create a new category from its posting interface.
Early on, I would write a post, then figure out a category in which to place it. If an existing category didn’t fit the topic, I’d create a new one. In hindsight, I realize that’s putting the cart before the horse. If you visit my blog, you’ll see that I have over 30 categories. That’s far to many in my estimation.
Knowing what I know now, if I had it to do over again, I would give much more forethought to the categories I wanted to use. Part of that decision-making process has to do with defining your niche, determining the scope of topics you plan to write about.
Based on my past experience, let me offer some tips:
- Limit the number to no more than a dozen, even less is better.
- Make the categories broad enough to limit the number, but specific enough to give the reader adequate information about what they might expect to see when they click on a given category. Fortunately, there are several blog platforms, WordPress and Movable Type for example, that allow the inclusion of sub-categories.
- Think keywords. I’ve mentioned before that Technorati.com, the leading aggregator of blog content, looks at categories as “tags,” which is how it groups or classifies the information it indexes. Making sure you choose keywords that best represent the topics you’ll be covering is vital.
- Make your category titles clear and concise. Esoteric titles don’t communicate as well.
- Don’t hamstring yourself. You can always add a new category when necessary.
Categories make it easy for your reader to make full use of the information you provide. However, having too many might overwhelm them and work against you. Don’t make the mistake I made. A little forethought on the front end can go a long way toward increasing the value your site provides to the reader.