Spoiler alert: all of your well-researched and eloquently written content means nothing if your audience can’t find it.
Sure, you may have put in the hard work to position yourself as a thought leader and authority within your industry—and you did a lot of that by filling your blog with tons of impactful and helpful articles. All of the content is already there and active. But, the organization of that content? Well, that’s another story.
Needless to say, sorting your blog articles into appropriate and user-friendly categories is crucial for providing value to your audience and maintaining your position as a credible source in your space. But, when you’re staring at a huge, tangled mess of articles, successfully categorizing them can seem like a nightmare.
Don’t panic yet! It’s still totally doable. In this article, we’re digging into everything you need to know about blog categories. So, by the time you’re done reading, you’ll be more than ready to tackle that mess and get things sorted out. Let’s get started, shall we?
Why are blog categories important?
We’ve already touched on the fact that blog categories serve to immediately make your blog look more polished and respectable. But beyond that, they really can’t count for much, right? Wrong. Appropriate categories are crucial for several different reasons:
They Immediately State Your Focus
The concept of categories is really quite simple—they’re the broad, umbrella terms that cover all of the different topics you cover on your blog. Think of them as the roadmap to your content. They instantly share what you’ll write about, as well as what you won’t write about. This is not only helpful to your readers (more on that later!), but can also be incredibly helpful to you. Brainstorming future content will be much easier if you have some guidelines and inspiration to follow.
They Let Your Audience Know They’re in the Right Place
Imagine you land on a site and immediately click over to their blog, hoping to find some great productivity tips for overwhelmed business owners. But, after a quick peek at the different topics they cover, you notice they mainly author posts relating to web development and client communication. So you close that tab and move on. You were able to instantly decide that particular site didn’t have exactly what you’re looking for—and you probably won’t be stopping back frequently.
However, if you had been searching for a resource that offered that specific type of content? Well, you would’ve had one of those miraculous “Aha!” lightbulb moments when you realized you stumbled upon a page that had exactly what you were looking for.
Your blog categories are a quick indicator to your audience that they’ve found the right place (or the wrong place, for that matter) to get the specific information they’re searching for.
They Make Your Blog More User-Friendly
So, a reader combs through one of your articles and loves it. That’s great! Now, they want to read related content and continue to glean insights from that big ol’ brain of yours. There’s only one problem—the only way for them to do that is to continue scrolling through every single page of your blog. The chances of them taking the time to actually do that? Slim to none.
It’s for this exact reason that blog categories exist. They group your similar content together, making it easier for your audience (and you!) to find exactly what they’re eager to get their hands on.
How should you choose your categories?
Now comes the hard part—actually selecting the different categories you’ll put in place on your blog. This can seem daunting at first. Ideally, you want clean, neatly packaged themes. But, you feel like your content is way too all over the place to make that happen.
Hold your horses—there’s no need to tear your hair out yet. Just follow these four steps to choose the very best categories for your blog.
Step One: Consider Your Audience
Even if you enjoy crafting articles for your blog, you’re not doing it just for you. You’re doing it for your readers—to offer them valuable information they can use to benefit their own lives. So, it’s important that you consider exactly what they want before deciding on the broad categories you’ll continue to cover.
Look back at your previous post analytics to discover what posts performed well and really resonated with your audience. Conversely, determine if there are any posts that seemed to completely flop. Challenge yourself to identify some common themes here—do posts relating to sales perform really well, while those relating to team management seem to fall flat? This will help you zone in on the topics you should continue to write about, as well as ones likely best left alone.
Step Two: Consider Your Business
Next, it’s time to take a magnifying glass to your business. Why? Well, of course, you want your content to be helpful to your readers. But, that’s not the only piece of the puzzle. It also needs to be relevant to your company—it needs to make sense coming from you.
What products or services does your company offer? Beyond that, what specific challenges and pain points does this product or service address for your customers? Are these issues something you could expand on with your content—offering even more help and value for your readers (along with a direct tie-in to your business)? Walking through this thought process is great inspiration for coming up with some targeted themes and topics that you may not have thought of on your own!
Step Three: Plan Ahead
Your business may be in one specific place right now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll stay there forever. Both your business and your customers will continue to evolve and grow, and you want your blog to stay flexible enough to grow along with them.
Now that you’ve analyzed both your audience and your company, it’s time to switch your focus forward. What changes do you want to see happen? Perhaps you’ve been reaching mainly creative freelancers, but would someday like to expand your reach to also work with agency owners. Or, maybe your customers have all been seeking web development services, but you’d eventually like to niche down further to target those who are exclusively building ecommerce sites.
If you can think of some tweaks and changes you’ll be making, you should structure your categories to accommodate those right off the bat. Believe me, it makes things easier for you in the long run—plus, it’s a great way to reinforce what your brand is about (before ever launching any official changes!).
Step Four: Narrow Down
What’s one of the most common mistakes I see when it comes to blog categories? Having far too many. An abundance of blog categories really defeats the purpose. After all, needing to sort through 25 different ones in a futile attempt to find the right content is arguably worse than having no categories at all.
So, once you’ve completed steps one through three and jotted down a bunch of different category ideas, it’s time to take a fine-tooth comb to that list and see what can be combined, altered, or eliminated.
For example, maybe you wrote down time management, productivity, goal-setting, and professional development on your list. These could all be combined into a larger category called something like “Self Development”.
Aim to identify about five or six main categories for your blog to keep things simple and streamlined. This part can take a little bit of time, so don’t get frustrated! Just keep tweaking and moving things around, and you’ll eventually land on a list you’re happy with.
Coming up with fitting categories for your blog content is an important step for both you and your readers—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. However, with a notepad, some research, and a little brainstorming, you can definitely tackle those categories strategically. Follow these steps and you’re well on your way!