I’ve been thinking about how to choose blog categories a lot lately. So much so, that I’ve just rejigged my own because I realised I wasn’t “technically” following my own advice.
Hey. I’m only human. Sometimes taking your own advice is the hardest, right?
So, the problem with a couple of my former categories — or mainly just ‘content wizardry’ — is that they weren’t doing their job properly. They didn’t tell the reader what the category was about, who would find it useful and why and how it is useful to them.
It was time to sack-off those categories, have a rethink, and give them the same treatment that my client’s blog category titles get. Just like I recently did for a dental client. It was pretty much BISH, BASH, BOSH.
The categories I created for them were clear, concise and did exactly what they said on the metaphorical tin. That’s what a good blog category should do and why it’s important to give them some thought.
What are blog categories and why are they useful?
Blog categories are clearly titled sections within your blog. They are important because they help your blog’s readers easily navigate to content that’s useful to them.
Coming from a background in journalism, I imagine blog categories like the sections of a magazine or newspaper. Whether in print or online, consumer publications tend to have between five and 10 solid categories.
If we take a very broad paintbrush, most publications have sections like news, features, reviews and then maybe fashion, health and ‘the back section’ where all the lighter content is published.
Pick up a newspaper or magazine without an index or contents page and you’d be pretty confused, right? You’d be left wondering whether it contains anything that is useful, or relevant to you and no one wants to waste time having to flick through the whole damn magazine to try and work that out. They’d get frustrated.
Think of your blog in exactly the same way: your blog is one big consumer publication. And categories are your sections.
If you have a blog, you basically own a publication!
(I did want a gif of a certain media mogul, but apparently they don’t make gifs of him.)
Ideally, categories should be decided before getting your blog underway. And I’ll show you how to do that with two dead-easy rules.
Rules that I know work because this is how I do it.
Rule #1: Consider your audiences
Categories should be influenced by the audiences you want your blog to attract. Hopefully you’ve done a bit of brand persona work to understand who these audiences are and the type of content they’re searching for.
Now, admittedly this is where the magazine section metaphor breaks down. Slightly. While consumer publications tend to cater to a single demographic, a business’ blog might cater for two or three different audiences.
Example: the blog of a family doctor may primarily be geared towards the general public who need to make an appointment, but it might also discuss the latest medical innovations or findings which could attract the attention of other medical practitioners.
To help make sure the right audience finds the content that’s relevant to them, create separate categories for each. Don’t worry if you then want to create sub-categories within each of these, so it’s even easier for different audience segments to get more specific about the content they want. This is where ‘tags’ come in to play. And you can have as many tags assigned to each post as you want.
Once you have a handle on the audiences your blog will attract, jot down category titles. Use words and phrases that are clear and easily understood by that particular audience.
Rule #2: Consider what you’re going to write about
This sounds like a big ask, but if we break it down it doesn’t need to be a mammoth task.
When you first decided that you were going to have a blog on your site, did your mind flood with ideas of what you could write about? They may have only been glimmers of ideas, but were there a few general trends you could identify? Perhaps industry news. How to guides. [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME] news. Quick tips. That kinda thing…
As an example, when choosing the categories for my blog, I first made sure I got the sections that catered for each of my main target audiences set in stone. So these are the sections that offer content and copy advice for businesses (my clients) and tips and hacks for other copywriters (my peers).
After that, I thought about topics I enjoy writing about, but are still pertinent to my business and industry.
Like, AOB which is pretty generalist and gives me a place to nerd out about other marketing I’ve seen and loved; Freelance Writing Life which at times is almost like a personal column; and Project & Portfolio News which exists purely as a place to inflate my own ego as I discuss great things I’ve been working on.
Identify these sections by imagining you’re flicking through your blog as if it were a magazine devoted to every side of your business. What sections would you expect to find in there?
Perhaps company news, product development, advice for staff and/or customers, and so on. List them out. Don’t worry too much about sub-section tags (which would be like, ‘staff announcements’, ‘events’ or ‘charity fundraiser’ tags that would all sit under your overriding ‘Company News’ category). There shouldn’t be any more than 4-8 categories. They should be clear. They should be focussed.
And that’s it.
• Blog categories are like magazine sections
• Limit the number of categories to no more than 10
• Use tags as sub-sections within your categories
• Identify the different audiences your blog will attract — dedicate a category to each of them
• Identify broader topics that you’ll enjoy writing about, but are still pertinent to your business.
Get help with defining your blog categories
If it all feels a little too much, then don’t panic!
I’ve helped businesses like yours structure their blog based on their audience and what the business owner wants to write about.
Contact me with a little detail about the walls you keep hitting, then let’s work out if we can collaborate and knock them down.