Blog Categories Are the Heart of Your Content, So Handle Them with Care
Setting up your blog categories merits plenty of time and attention. Categories are one of the few content elements on a blog that are problematic to change and tweak after the fact. You can always add new categories, but changing the wording of existing categories or reassigning posts to new categories breaks internal and inbound links. Thus, people will not be able to find your posts and search engine optimization will suffer.
Why is this? Because you should configure your blog to make category labels part of your blog post's URL (permalink). If your category labels are keyword rich, displaying keywords in the URL will enhance SEO.
Consider these points when setting up your business blog categories. Remember - these are not hard and fast rules, only guidelines.
- Think big picture. Blog categories should represent your high level buckets of content. More specific content segregation can be accomplished with tags.
- Think 5 to 10. Categories give readers a thumbnail sketch of your blog. Too many categories and readers won't pay attention. Too few, and they won't understand your focus.
- Avoid subcategories. They result in extremely long URLs, which make link sharing awkward (despite the many URL shortening services) and perplex or annoy readers.
- Research keyword phrases before settling on category terms. Example - do people search more frequently for "copy writing", "copywriting", "copywriter", or "copywriters"? Keyword analysis should not dictate category label selection, but it's foolish not to factor it in.
- Don't repeat the same keyword phrase in category after category. From an SEO perspective, using keywords too frequently is as bad as using them too infrequently. From the perspective of human readers, keyword packing makes your blog look spammy.
- Keep category labels to 1, 2, or 3 words. If you need more than that, perhaps you aren't thinking big picture enough.
- Use a consistent style. This should go without saying, but you'll often see a list of categories where labels are a random mixture of lower case, upper/lower case, abbreviations, and spelled out words. Such a category layout hardly screams, quality content!
- Don't get cute. One of my pet peeves is bloggers who use categories to show off their wit. Business blog readers want information first and foremost. They are busy and seldom have time to decode your puns, double entendres, and other assorted wordplay. Make your category labels clear and descriptive.
- Assign one category per post. Again, it's better to use tags to unite posts that fall in overlapping or multiple categories.
Observant readers may notice that my own blog violates a few of my own guidelines. When I started blogging in 2005, most of us were learning as we went along ... so I hope you can learn from my mistakes. As a partial excuse, I should mention that in those days tags were neither well understood nor commonly used to identify posts.
Bottom line - Business blog categories should be compact, clear, straightforward, and relevant descriptors of your high level content focus. Less is more.
Over to You
What are your views on business blog categories? Please share your experiences and ideas. And - if you have suggestions for future posts in this series, just let me know.