I’ve blogged for several years without realizing the negative impact that categories played on my work. I finally woke up and realized that I had a major problem with site structure and I needed to do something about it fast!
What’s even more surprising is how common category problems are among my fellow bloggers. Most of them, including beginner, intermediate and even some professionals lack an understanding of how valuable the category is.
Our blog needs a firm foundation and categories are the framework of that foundation. Each section has to hold some of the weight of the entire structure evenly. The more balanced the category the stronger the entire blog will be.
At first blush, we think categories segmented content that doesn't fit anywhere else. That's counterintuitive to the real use. Each Category needs to relate either directly or indirectly to the primary topic of the blog. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be in the blog at all.
There are exceptions to the rule, such as a personal blog. I have affiliate marketing, blogging and auto racing. They don’t necessarily relate to each other, but they all support the direct topic of the blog, me. In this case, it’s my personal blog and it’s about what I’m about.
I wouldn't build “affiliate marketing” and “successful blogging” into an auto racing blog because they wouldn't relate. Yet, it's perfectly fine in a personal blog as the categories relate to the primary topic, in my case, it's me.
Many blogs have as many as twice the amount of categories to posts, which totally defeats the purpose of categories. This problem began when WordPress allowed bloggers to place posts in multiple categories. This is caused by writers attempting to use the Category as a search index optimization tool. This practice is detrimental to their goal.
Search Engines often index both the post and the category. The first post in a category is often indexed as the topic of the page causing the site to have canonical content (duplicate content) appearing as spam to search engines and weakening the strength of the site content.
The easiest way to deal with categories that cause canonical problems is to block search engines from indexing your categories, instead only indexing the pages. Another option is to always create fresh content for each category, having ten or more posts in each one.
Categories contribute to the layout of your site when using a featured post widget either in the front page or on the sidebars. You can specify which posts you want to display while blocking others. If you notice on my front page, I have “Blog Successfully” and “Affiliate Marketing” as two segmented areas. Below is my “Blog feed”, which is also a widget set to display all categories.
Summarizing the Discussion:
- Categories are a blogs foundation and need balance
- Categories Relate Directly or Indirectly to primary niche topic
- use few categories and avoid posts with multiple categories
- Consider de-indexing categories from search engines to avoid Canonical content
- Featured Posts Widget uses categories to segment content.