Digital To Do List #3 – Categories
This week, let’s look at using Categories in your WordPress blog.
Why is using Categories a good idea?
Categories are hierarchical and cascade down to give your blogs structure, to help search engines index them correctly and users to navigate through your blogs. In other words, categories are like the contents page of a book.
Here’s a good example of how categories help you organise your content. Let’s imagine you have a cookery website, specialising in breakfast dishes, twice a month you publish a blog and they fall under one of these areas:
Having the blogs split up into categories will help your readers navigate to the area they are interested in. Short attention spans are the blight of the internet and if you can get visitors to the right page quickly, you have more chance of “site stickiness”.
You might have a blog that fits into both Vegetarian and Protein Rich. In this case, you choose one as the Primary Category (tick box) and the other as a category.
Another good example that helps cement the usefulness of categories is on e-commerce sites – if you’re looking for boys school trousers, you’ll get filtered down something like this:
Boys>>ages 12 plus>>trousers>>school trousers>>charcoal grey.
If there were no categories, it would be time-wasting and a really annoying experience to have to filter through men/women/boys and girls trousers!
How to display categories
Having a list of your categories in the sidebar of the blog also helps direct users to the right information.
In WordPress, this is often done using a Widget, under the Appearance menu. There are various options in this setting, for example, which pages to display on, not to display on, or whether sub-categories should be shown. Look out for the expression “parent and child categories”. Parent category being the main one and child category being a sub category.
Another great feature is to show blog items that match a service. This time, let’s imagine you’re a builder. You have a service page specifically on loft extensions and along the bottom of that page, you can have, say 3, of your latest loft extension category blogs – further demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in this area. This is done by selecting the blog post ID (unique to each) and using the Widget again.
One golden rule of thumb is not to have a category name the same as a tag name – if they are the same, they are competing against each other and search engines don’t know how to index them.
(We’ll move on to tags in another week. If categories are the contents page, tags are the index at the back.)
Keywords and Categories integration
It makes sense to have your keyword list (see our Week 1 Digital to do List) at hand. Your blog pieces should be responding to challenges faced by your audience along the lines of your keywords. Here comes another example – this time you’re a photographer. One of your services is family portraits.
Relaxed family portraits = keyphrase.
How to create a relaxed atmosphere for family portraits = blog post
Family portraits = category
Everything cascades down and as long as the blog post is written without keyword stuffing and is aimed at both humans and search engine results pages, you have a plan.
How to plan categories
If I’m working on a category structure for a client, I often find writing it out in a family tree style diagram useful. That way I can really drill down and work out the priorities, find any oddities that crop up or missed opportunities. It always interesting looking at vocabulary and different points of view regarding business priorities.
Sometimes I get a bit geeky over categories on websites I’m looking at and try to guess their keyword strategies or priorities. Maybe I need to get out more?!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your site structure and need a confident pair of hands, we’d love to help and produce a great site structure for you – think of it as a Spring clean!