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30 Days to a Better Blog: Consider Your Categories

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Consider Your Categories

As part of our 30 Days to a Better Blog series you should now have great posts and pages on your blog – and we want your readers to find them, even months in the future. It’s time to consider your categories and navigation.

In the “olden” days of blogging, categories were the main source of navigation through a blog. They were typically located in the sidebar, and a blog could have 50+ categories if it desired! But with newer themes and layouts, many blogs are moving to a top level navigation – and you can create menus and sub-menus within your category structure.

I’ve done several category reorganizations and I know it’s a daunting and time-consuming task. But ultimately, your categories serve as the main navigation and overall structure to your site. A reader should be able to look at your menu and know exactly what they’ll find.

So, carve out some time, take a look at your existing categories, and consider implementing the following (I prefer doing this in excel for easy visualization):

  • Choose 15 (preferably 10 if possible) top level “parent” categories. If you move to a horizontal top navigation, you want to keep your parent categories in a single line. You may have to create new categories, or rename others – but these should encompass the main post topics that you cover.
  • Under each of these you can now place your remaining categories as sub-categories or “child” categories. You can incorporate a drop-down navigation that will display these when someone mouses over your parent categories.
  • If something doesn’t fit into this new structure, take a minute to analyze why. Is it a category that you’re not really using? Is it a rogue topic not covered by your blog and needs to go? Does it need to be a parent category over something else?
  • Have a couple of people glance at your new category structure. Does it make sense to them? Do the sub-categories fall where they’d expect to see them?

Once you’ve finalized your new category hierarchy, it’s time to implement it!

Quick Notes:

  • To avoid SEO meltdown, do NOT edit your category slug if you rename it.
  • If you delete a category, any posts only assigned to that category will now be assigned to your default. You will want to edit those posts and reassign them correctly.

Read Alli’s rethinking the structure of your blog.

Image Source: SXC

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld.com. She has been a freelance writer and blogger for over a decade, writing for About.com, iVillage and b5media. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni.


Feedback

6
  • TrafficColeman

    Nikki I tell my client that categories are important for someone to easily navigate your site..if they can’t find it..then their gone forever..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Judy Helfand

    Nikki,
    I have one question and one suggestion:

    Question: do you have an opinion as to the efficacy of using hyphens in two+ word categories? For example, is it better to say [ social-media-for-business ] or [ social media for business ]? I have seen it done both ways and trying to determine what works best.

    Suggestion: We have found that when using multiple writers for one blog it is a good idea to create a category/tag/label for each writer. It makes it very easy to find each one’s body of work, as sometimes that is all a reader might recall when trying to return to a particular post.

    Thanks for the information. And you are correct you do have to carve out time for this project. We call it “scrubbing” the blog!

    Judy

  • Nikki

    Judy, do you mean when you actually create the category? I think WordPress automatically inserts the hyphens in the URL…

    As for the writers, WordPress also generates a tag for a specific author – you can click on their name. For example mine (if you click above) is http://www.blogworld.com/author/nikki/. I definitely think it’s a good idea for multiple author blogs!

    • Judy Helfand

      Nikki,
      Yes, I was talking about when you create the category. And I now see from your blog that the category/tag displays without hyphens, but the URL had the hyphens. Using my example above: The url for Social Media for Business is http://www.blogworld.com/tag/social-media-for-business/

      This, as you say is a WordPress feature. Unfortunately in BLOGGER if you don’t put hyphens in the initial creation of a category/tag then the URL would look something like this: http://www.blogworld.com/tag/social%20media%20for%20business/ Really not good. I think I will send this suggestion to a Blogger employee that I met at BWE10!

      Also, I now see how WordPress generates the author tag and how easy it will be to find all of your work, or Alli’s, or Debs. This is another feature lacking in BLOGGER. I will put it on my suggestion list or question list to them, as perhaps there is a BLOGGER feature I am not using correctly.

      Again, thank you.
      Judy

      • Nikki

        Judy, I only have one Blogger blog – – but that’s definitely unfortunate that they structure the links and authors that way! I think they could benefit from both your suggestions.

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