Categories on your blog can be a good way of organising posts, giving bloggers precise control over their content in a dynamic environment, but they tend to be misused in many cases. You would have probably seen it somewhere on the web, a long ugly list of categories trailing down the sidebar actually causing more harm than good for a blog.
By giving users a list of categories to browse a website, it creates a psychological conundrum that usually leaves them with a severe case of analysis paralysis. This is a condition where users, when presented with too many options, end up selecting nothing at all.
Whether your website is article based, selling products, or a brochure site for your business, you can benefit from playing into basic human psychology. Also with website categories, accommodating natural human behaviour also pleases the search engines, becoming an excellent SEO strategy!
You may think that it is a great thing that most blogging platforms (such as WordPress) create category and tag pages. But by overusing categories and tags you could be doing more harm than good. Categories can be the single biggest contributor to both page bloat and link dilution, which can have negative effects on your website’s SEO.
I am not saying that categories are a bad thing, it’s just how they are used. When building your site or blog and defining your category structure, you must remember to:
If you look in the sidebar of this post, you will see “Featured Posts” section. This is a category driven sidebar widget aimed at providing visitors with further reading that may be of interest to them. Just a good example of how categories can be used.
The main thing to remember here is that you can still use categories to organise your posts, but keep them to a minimum to try and avoid having hundreds of categories.
Categories are like a website’s DNA, they literally form the organisational framework that houses all of a site’s information. Like DNA, category structures are unique, and therefore, a one size fits all solution will not work.