Marketing Blog expert and head of Radiant Marketing, Paul Chaney asks “How important are categories when it comes to blogging?“
…Very important and for a number of reasons. First of all, they’re useful to the reader. Categories serve as the means of navigation on a blog.
Secondly, they are important from a search engine standpoint. Technorati uses a folksonomy called ‘tags’ for organizing the way it returns search queries. The site looks at blog categories as tags. Without categories, you’ll have to use a special piece of HTML code – which you may wish to use anyway – for tagging purposes.
Chaney has some excellent tips for setting up categories:
- Determine the categories at the outset of the development of your blog. If you create categories on the fly as needed you can end with over 30 categories. That’s way too many and overwhelms the reader. If you then have to delete and edit some categories, you will end up creating a new url address for posts with the new category name. Incoming links to the same post with the prior url address will link to an ‘orphan post’ that’s not part of the current navigation of the blog.
- Come up with eight or ten categories broad enough in scope to cover a wide range of topics, but defined narrowly enough to be relevant to the content being assigned to it. If you use a blog platform like Movable Type or Word Press, you can create sub-categories to organize your content even further.
- Make category titles clear and functional. Esoteric category terms may be fine for a personal blog, but not for business. Think in terms of what the reader might be looking for and target his creative bent toward coming up with category labels that make sense to them.
- Think search engine optimization. Not only should you consider what words or phrases would make sense to readers, think in terms of what keywords they might do searches on. In addition if you’re categories serve as tags (Technorati), then you need to work to ensure they are ones users will search for.
I’ll add that archiving by calendar, as opposed to category, is foolish. Readers do not give a darn about what I lawyer or practice group published to their blog on May 3 versus May 15. Imagine Yahoo, CNN or the Wall Street Journal archiving content by date. Enough said.