Are you finding it hard to figure out how to organize your blog categories? Do you feel you have too many categories and not enough time to fill them with blog posts? If so, then this post is for you!
Or perhaps you're a new blogger, and you don't know what blog categories are, let alone how to organize them – all you know is that you need them. Then this is definitely for you!
This post is the first in a 3-part series, where I'm sharing my best tips for blog categories and tags. In this post, we're talking about choosing, naming, and how to organize blog categories. In the next post, we're covering everything you need to know about blog tags, and in the third post, you'll learn how to write category descriptions and why you should have category landing pages (even if your blog is new).
So read on, and get organized!
WHAT ARE BLOG CATEGORIES?
Before looking at how to organize the blog categories, let's first talk about what they are.
A blog category is a way to organize your content by putting each blog post into specific groups. Think of them as folders on your computer or in your filing cabinet. They make your blog posts super easy to find because they are neatly organized.
For example, if you have a recipe blog, you might have categories like “Breakfast,” “Dinner,” and “Baking.” If you have a lifestyle blog, like Victoria at Giveaways 4 Mom, you might have categories like “Wellness,” “Home Inspo,” “Gift Ideas,” etc.
WHY CATEGORIES ARE IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BLOG
Categories help to keep your blog posts organized which is essential for two main reasons.
First of all, it makes it easier for your readers to find the content they want to read. For example, if they know they want to read a post about gift ideas, they can go straight to that category and find all of your posts about different gift ideas in one place.
Secondly, it helps with your blog's SEO. When you categorize your posts, you are essentially giving Google a little bit of help in understanding what your post is about. This can help your post rank higher in search results, which means more people will see it!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CATEGORIES AND TAGS?
At this point, you might be thinking, “What's the difference between tags and categories?“.
The answer is: they are similar but not quite the same. Both are used to organize content, but they serve different purposes.
If we use the filing cabinet analogy, categories would be the folders in your cabinet where you file the blog post (“Dinner,” “Breakfast,” and “Baking”).
Tags are the short, descriptive phrases you can assign to each of your blog posts to help further describe the content of your post. You can think of them as labels you add to each blog post.
So, for example, let's say you wrote a recipe blog post for banana bread. First, you could file that post either under the “Breakfast” or “Baking” category on your site (you should only file it in one place – more on that later). Then you could label the post with tags like “easy breakfast,” “quick bread,” “baking,” etc.
That way, readers searching for recipes containing bananas or bread recipes could find that specific post easily (without having to look through all the categories).
Does that make sense? I hope it gives you a better understanding of the difference between categories and tags, and when you're finished reading this post, head over to this post for 10 more things bloggers should know about blog tags.
Now let's move on to some tips for organizing your blog categories, starting with how to choose them!
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING AND ORGANIZING BLOG CATEGORIES
When choosing what blog categories to create for your site, it's always good to think through the following first:
What is your Reader Expecting to find On Your Blog
Your reader is the most important thing to keep in mind when deciding which blog categories to create and how to organize them. Who are they? What are they looking for on your site? What kinds of content do they want to see?
Allow me to use this blog as an example. When you're visiting this site, you're (hopefully ?) expecting to read about everything related to Blog SEO, and to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for, I've decided to go with categories such as “On-page SEO,” “Off-page SEO,” and “Technical SEO.”
You should always be thinking about how you can make it as easy as possible for your readers to find the content they're searching for.
The topics you cover in your blog
Another essential thing to consider when choosing and organizing categories for your blog is the types of topics you cover.
For example, some topics you might cover if you have a food blog are recipes, cooking tips, kitchen appliances, etc. But when it comes to recipes, that category is probably too broad because it could include anything from breakfast to dinner and dessert recipes. So it's better to create categories for each meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner) which is more specific and easier for readers to find the content they're looking for.
So when choosing your categories, aim for something specific enough to be helpful but not so specific that it excludes a lot of potential content.
Your blog's navigation menu
When choosing and organizing your blog categories, you also need to keep in mind how they will appear in your navigation menu at the top of your site.
You want to ensure your navigation menu is organized in a way that makes sense.
Take the “Dinner” recipe category, for example. If your blog is new, it may make sense to display the various categories in the navigation menu, but as your blog grows, that could quickly get crowded. So you might find that a better structure is to put all the recipe categories together and then have a separate section for cooking tips, kitchen appliances, etc.
A perfect example of this is what Kelly and Alaina at Sweet & Savory Morsels have done. They've kept the navigation clear and clean by adding a drop-down containing all the different recipe categories.
There is no right or wrong here, so choose a structure that works for you and will be easy for your readers to understand.
CHOOSING THE NUMBER OF CATEGORIES TO HAVE ON YOUR BLOG
Before continuing, I want to address a common question: “How many blog categories should I have?”
The answer is that you don't want too many categories because that can be overwhelming for readers. But you also don't want to have too few (if you have many blog posts) because you're running the risk of your categories being too broad, and that won't be helpful either.
So a good rule of thumb is to start small and add new ones as your blog grows.
If you are a new blogger and don't have many blog posts yet, you may only have one or two categories – and that's ok! Not only will it be easier for your readers to find their way around your site, but it will also help you narrow down your content creation which is the best strategy for new blogs.
HOW TO NAME YOUR BLOG CATEGORIES
Now that you know what to keep in mind when choosing and organizing your blog categories and how many to have, it's time to start thinking about what to actually name them.
We've already covered this in length, but it's so important that it's worth repeating – your category names should be descriptive and easy to understand. That way, readers will know what kind of content they can expect to find in each category. Such things as Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch” if it's a recipe blog. And Adventure, Budget, and Luxury if it's a Travel blog (or Mexico, US, Canada, UK, Italy, etc., if you prefer to organize your blog category list by destinations).
Your category names should also be keyword rich. That way, people searching for content on your topic are more likely to find your site. Usually, these are short-tail keywords (or even seed keywords), so if your blog is new-ish, you will not be able to rank for them. But as your blog grows and you get more traffic, you will be able to start ranking for these competitive keywords.
Your category names should be consistent with your blog's overall tone and style. For example, you might want playful category names if you have a lighthearted blog. And if you have a more serious blog, you might want more straightforward category names.
But don't go overboard with your naming creativity, so they no longer make sense for your reader.
And finally, be mindful of the permalink structure when choosing your category names, especially if you plan to include the category name in the URL so that it doesn't become too long or repetitive.
HOW TO ADD CATEGORIES TO ON YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
By now, you should have a good idea of which blog categories to create, how you want them organized and how to name them; it's time to start adding them to your site.
If you're using WordPress, there are two ways to add categories: through the post editor or the “Categories” page in your WordPress dashboard.
To add a category through the post editor, select the “Categories” dropdown menu and start typing in the name of your category. WordPress will automatically create the category for you if it doesn't already exist.
To add a category through the “Categories” page, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Posts > Categories.” From there, you can add a new category by filling out the form and clicking “Add New Category.”
How to add blog categories to your navigational menu bar
Once you've added your blog categories, you might want to add them to your navigation menu so people can find them.
The easiest way to add your categories to your menu bar is by adding a custom menu. Go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Appearance > Menus.” Under categories, select the categories you want to add > click Add to Menu. Now they're added to the bottom of your menu list. You can drag and drop them to a different place on your menu if you like, and you also have the option of adding them underneath another menu heading (your blog, for example).
And that's it! Quite easy, right? Now you've created your blog categories, and you have an organized structure that will help the reader quickly find what they want to read in a way that is easy for your to maintain.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about blog categories. Have a read-through before you go.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BLOG CATEGORIES
How many categories should a blog post have?
While WordPress allows you to assign multiple categories to one blog post, a blog post should only have one category. Meaning you should only include your blog post in one category.
Why, you ask? Well, when you include your blog post in more than one category, and you do that for several of your posts, not only is it confusing for your reader (because they'll see the same articles regardless of which category they click into), you are also running the risk of creating duplicate content (because your category pages have the same content).
So the best approach is to assign the blog post to only one category (even if that decision is hard sometimes). If you have a large blog, with lots of content, you can add tags to your blog posts to help the reader quickly find related post that may be filed under different categories.
I have several categories where I don't have any content and others where I only have a few posts. What should I do with those?
There are a few things you can do with categories that only have a few posts:
(1) You can leave them as is and continue to add new posts to them. Over time, these categories will build up and become more robust.
(2) You can merge these categories with similar categories. This can help streamline your content and make it easier for people to find what they're looking for.
(3) You can delete these categories altogether if you're not planning to use them (especially those that are empty).
Do I have to use blog categories?
The short answer; No, you don't have to use blog categories.
The longer answer; if you have a new blog, you don't need blog categories in order for your readers to find the different posts. But as your blog grows, it may become harder for a reader to find what they're looking for, and no one wants to go through 5-10 pages of blog posts (when we can't even get past page 2 in SERP).
So while you don't need blog categories when you first start, it's something you should consider as your blog grows. Trust me; your readers will thank you for it!
Alright, I think I've covered it all now. If you have any questions about organizing your blog categories, feel free to comment below!
Until next time,