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How Many Categories Does Your Blog Have?

Posted By Darren Rowse 19th of March 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Time for a little discussion question that emerged out of a conversation that I had with a new blogger recently.

How many categories does your blog have?

I’d also be interested to hear how people determined what categories to use and whether you can have too many categories (I was reading a blog the other day that had 60 and wondered whether there comes a time when there are too many).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. *goes to check*

    18 at present – including the commonly used ‘Uncategorized’ category for when I foget to add a category to one of my posts. ;) That seems to be happening increasingly often. Perhaps I should go back over them and make them more SEO friendly. (More user friendly too, perhaps?)

  2. I think it’s very easy to over-categorize. Your categories should focus on the key areas of interest of your blog. Categories best reflect the kind of content you have, and the kind of content you have the most of. So if you have 45 posts dealing with photography, a corresponding category should be made, while 3 posts on bathroom hygiene don’t necessarily qualify.

    Keeping your categories concise and to the point helps navigation, and shows your personal focus for the blog.

  3. I have 8 categories now. It may grow to 10, but I don’t think too much more than that.

    As a web designer I have to categorize information for client websites often, so I am constantly working on categorizing.

    It all depends on the type of information one is providing and the amount. If I would write 1 article about hosting, I would not have a hosting category, but place that article under Basics. The more articles there are about 1 topic, the more the need exists to create a separate category for that topic.

    In light of the above, I don’t think it’s wrong to have 50 categories, if they all have an average of 20 articles. But if your total of posts is 50, its not even advisable to have 25 categories, IMHO.

  4. When I started my newest blog I was thinking that I didn’t want to have too many categories – and I made a list with the categories I wanted to have. Well, as my blog has “evolved” I’ve added a couple of categories that weren’t on the original list… Right now I have 14 categories which I don’t think is too much – but I’m going to be careful not to add a lot more categories.

    Some of my categories are “broad” categories while others are a bit more specific – if I’ll add more categories I’ll definitely try to make them as broad as I can.

    60 categories is definitely too much – but some people might be doing that because Technorati usually grabs categories as “tags”. But instead of creating 100s of categories people should just use Technorati tag links in their posts – that should do the trick.

    Selecting good categories is important to your blog – it can bring you some nice traffic through the search engines and it can increase page views (with something like “read more about this subject…”) – some people might only be interested in one of the topics you blog about.

  5. 700.

    Because wordpress doesn’t get the difference between categories/tags right. :)

    Realistically it’s around 20, and I should take the time to up date them with how the focus of my blog has changed over the past year.

    I don’t use the wordpress category widget for my sidebar, I use static HTML which gives me greater control.

  6. Hi Darren,

    My web log has less than 10, not visible categories; since I’ve not activated them.

    ‘Categories’ on a general platform, should be basically focussed on the ‘to-be-conveyed-message’ of a blog post. For e.g.: Pro Blogger Archieves (subject centric titles).

    Unlike WordPress, where one doesn’t have control over the un-ending list of categories, Blogger has a much simplified and easier method of categorizing Blog posts.

    That’s my take!
    Allan.

  7. I read a post on here by Darren Rowse the other day which said you should try not to choose too wide a subject for your blog.

    I was worried cash would be to wide a subject for my site on which I try and ramble about debt, investing etc. I have 3 Categories at present, to have 700 that must be a pretty diverse blog.

  8. I think that 5 or 6 categories is a good number, as the human eye can catch 5 elements in one time, but no more.

    You can make an experiment : try to draw 4 points in a piece of paper, and ask a friend to count them. He will give you the right answer in a tenth of a second, because his eyes can catch them immediatly. It should be the same with 5 points. But he will certainly need 1 or 2 seconds to give the right answer with 6 or 7 points, because he have to count them.

    So when a reader is looking for a word in five categories, he will find it immediatly, whereas he will have to check them one by one if they are more than 6 or 7.

    However, it is hard to categorize a blog in only 5 elements, so I think it could be clever to use both categories and a tag cloud.

  9. Well, I’ll throw in a dissenting voice.

    I have a hierarchal set of categories: a few main ones, more specific ones under these, and very specific ones under those. In total, over a hundred, so far.

    Maybe that’s because it works for my blog, which is about games (mostly). Posts about game are tagged ‘gaming’. Then they are tagged ‘board games’, ‘computer games’, and so on. Then they are tagged by individual game.

    This way, someone only interested in computer games read only those posts, while someone only interested in the board game Setters of Catan reads only that.

    A better question is how many tags do I list on my sidebar. Right now, it is any tag with more than 20 posts, but I’ll probably up that to 30 sometime soon

    I also posted a guide to my tagging when I first started to do so, and I’ll probably post another one soon and make is a permanent post.

    Yehuda

  10. Two. News, and features. Tags take care of the rest.

  11. On a general personal blog about 60. (often with little in common)

    On product specific blogs about 20.- easier to keep focused

    I learnt its better if your blog has a niche,. rather than having everything that appeals to yourself.

  12. I have 34 categories/tags of which about 10 is uesd frequently.
    The distinction/difference/similarity of tags and categories is a bit fuzzy I think.

  13. Well, since the ever-idiosyncratic Blogger limits the number of posts it will display under any one “label” (where labels = both categories and tags in function), any attempt to limit the number of categories will serve only to consign older posts to obscurity… especially since Google seems to serve up label pages that contain “post x” in preference to the actual post x page. Perplexing…

    As a consequence, I chose to slap on a search box and label as the spirit moves, liberally so. That said, I don’t list all those dozens of labels/categories/tags in a sidebar — that would be too much of a good thing. Links at the end of the post can guide the interested reader in a gentle way to other posts of interest. Not a perfect system, but…

  14. I currently have six categories. I don’t really see a need to specify beyond that.

    If you have to then one of two things is happening:

    1. Your search functionality is trash and you’re substituting categories/tagging.

    2.Your blog is unfocused.

  15. I have 10 categories now. I determine categories based on the topics I post on, but try to generalize them enough that each category will have a decent amount of posts regularly. As others have said before, I think if you have a ton of categories it shows that your blog is unfocused.

  16. I have 8. I use 1. I’m deleting the other 7. How’s that for simplifying things.

  17. Darren –

    This sort of post is why I subscribed to ProBlogger. Thanks.

    I currently have 28 categories and have deleted a few before today and will likely delete a few more in the days ahead. One thing I’ve always wondered is the difference between ‘tags’ and ‘categories’. I’ll be looking into that a little deeper to see if I can’t eliminate a few more categories.

    On a related note, something I did was add a ZoomCloud just below my Categories list. Obviously the Categories reflects what I choose to identify as what I blog about. The ZoomCloud reflects what I actually blog about by vocabulary. It’s been interesting to see the differences in the two lists.

    I get some activity with people clicking through the cloud so it seems to work better than the categories as a user locater of content on the blog.

    Thanks again for ProBlogger. While I’ve only been reading here a very short while, it’s already proven to be helpful.

    Blue Collar Muse

  18. Categories are not so easy to maintain. You can try ‘tagging’ as I do.

  19. One of my blogs has a lot of haphazard categories that came about naturally. It could really benefit from a clean up since I’m sure a lot of them could be combined.

    My other blog has a list of ten or so categories that I planned out. It’s a parenting blog, so I wanted to get things into nice, neat categories for people looking for tips (ie. safety, nutrition, etc.)

    http://365parents.com

  20. I run a gaming/MMORPG blog and I have less than 10 categories. Anything in excess is bad, hehehe. But then again, Chris Anderson would probably disagree (Long Tail author).

  21. This is a tough one. I have 8 right now. But they span a wide variety of topics which can be a problem. I started my blog a while ago and planned on writing about whatever I felt like to see where I would end up. Afterwards I would focus on that.

    Unfortunately, I have written evenly across my categories so I’m still in limbo. My traffic is picking up, but I am thinking I might need to focus myself more.

    The thing with categories is they need to by outline an area of interest. I have been to some sites with a ridiculous number of categories and you just get lost and there aren’t many postings in each one anyways.

    For me, a category is a place where you can write at least one quality posting on a consistent basic. Some theme that can be kept up, unless the topic is outdated or archived.

  22. I’ve taken a somewhat different approach with my blog – one that I think better supports low category volumes (I have just three) but allow me to tag posts as I see fit. What I’ve done is have, as I sad, just three categories:

    – posts for general writing
    – asides for the small pointer/comment/that’s cool things
    – noteworthy for those pieces I think are especially worth returning to

    However, I also make significant use of Ultimate Tag Warrior (thus, I am a WordPress user) and use the folksonomy generated by the tags as pointers into clusters of similar topic material.

    This approach keeps my category list very light and allows me to go back a couple of times a year and prune my tags. I usually end up clearing out 15-20 which have ended up being too close to others. Which reminds me, it’s about time I did the housekeeping…

  23. I limit myself to 7. Have one miscellaneous category. It helps

  24. >1000.

    I’m with Engtech. My blog really doesn’t have a niche, so categories we difficult to manage. I scrapped them and started using Ultimate Tag Warrior for WordPress, and it was cool to find out what my blog is about. Tags work really well for me.

  25. I currently have 16 categories and try my hardest not to add any more unless I must. I think a lot of people make the mistake of interchanging categories with tags – which can lead to huge category lists.

    Generally speaking I think the categories should be limited to the main parent topics that you touch on commonly. If you’re blogging on entertainment you might go with “tv, music, movies” and then just use tags like “rock, country, drama and comedy” to break them down.

    When I’m building a new blog I try to map out my categories and then I leave them be. When writing a new post I basically think to myself – hey, if this doesn’t belong in an existing category then does it really belong?

    That’s one reason I also keep a “Misc” or “Random” category just in case. Sometimes you need a random post that isn’t categorized easily.

  26. I have over 80!

    As I run an online business directory it could well be an occupational hazard – I’d *hate* someone not to be able to find what they were looking for ;-)

  27. I have 10 categories. Hopefully it’s not too much :S, I don’t think it is.

  28. I have nine, currently 7 of which have been used. Talking about specific entertainment medias I tried to divide it all into what I was covering with the occasional information or please make it stop posts.

  29. So far I have 35 categories and I foresee them to increase in the next two months. I create new categories as the need arise but since I fear of having too many categories I use the tagging system instead.

  30. I have about 20 categories, but occassionally feel I should add some more, but then I wonder what is the difference between a category and a tag, and if anyone really looks at my categories and/or tags! Looking at my stats, my top category has just 2% of the hits of my top page, and my top tag barely 1%.

    I think tags are a bigger issue – my pet hate is when I see a closing line like:

    Read more on: blog, blogs, blogging, blogger, bloggers, blogged…

    If you want the SEO from tags, please hide them from the main post!

  31. I currently have 8, but I forsee it getting up to about 15. Any more than that and I think the blog loses focus.

  32. I’ve got 24 categories on my Writing Lab blog, but on my Blogger blog, I tag at will, so I must have double that (I have got more than 150 posts on the blog, though). Now I’m trying to be selective about adding new categories, keeping them general and using tags for refinements.

  33. I use categories as tags basically so on my Media/Entertainment site I have a ton of categories, and I list them on an archive page so you can search through specific categories.

    What’s the difference between using categories as tags or just using tags? Especially if you want to list the tags for people to search?

  34. I currently have 20 categories, and I feel they work just fine.

  35. I’ve had as many as 40 but I often weed them out as I do old posts that were crap. I’ve transferred hosting services three times now and each time, I make it a point to weed out all the undesirable stuff in my archives–you know, put the old fat blog on a diet. Of course, the goal should be the perfect number of categories and the perfect writing every time. We can’t all be home run hitters like you every time, Darren.

  36. I recently redesigned my blog myMacBUZZ and pruned the categories down into 7 sections. I’m lifting a page from newspapers and using sections like formats, e.g. Articles, Site News, Features. I then tag each post with tags describing its content. This way, tags handle the more granular categorisation and work more like metadata.

    Example, for a rumour about iPods, I would do the following:

    1. Since its a general article and not a screencast or feature, it goes into the Articles section
    2. I then tag it with tags describing the article content – ipod nano, rumour

    That way I don’t need separate categories for iPod Video, iPod Shuffle, iPod nano, rumours

  37. Currently 120 and growing…each category is a separate city/place.

  38. I think from between 6 to 15 is a good amount. I depends on the range on what you post about but I think 60 is too much, way to much..

    My blog is fairly wide range (web design, Phantom comics, sport, Christianity and general) and these have sub categories which equals about 12 or so. If I really wanted too, I could probably make that out to be 20 odd but thats too much.

    I think its ok not to be too specific and strict in your categories…

  39. I just have 5 categories.
    I don’t want to confuse my visitors with many categories. I use simple categories with tag in every post, so, the visitors not only get post with categories but also tags.

  40. Currently I have 21 Categories and one of the category is “Other Stuff”, I make this so I didn’t make another Categories and planning to use tags as well for my blog to reduce the Categories

  41. I currenly do not have any categoried. I use tags but I would like to start making categories.

  42. My company blog don’t use Categories, i am using Tags instead.
    My other blog use categories act like tags, and the other blogs is having 12 category on each language, the blog is using 2 language at the moment.

    I think too many narrow categories will make the blogs too sophisticated.

  43. 11. First I try to put the post in a category that already exists. If I can´t, just create a new one.

  44. I am at 157 right now and will probably be over 300 eventually. This number was reached in about 2 weeks of blogging. I have a category for each UFC fighter as well as more broad topics like UFC news, etc…

  45. I have 13 categories and I am still looking at trimming that down because I think that is too many.

  46. I currently have 13 major topics which all topics are at least related to one of. I had many minor topics (30 plus) before and I felt my site was a bit of a mess and needed some organisation. Hence I introduced 2 groups of major topics which are linked near the top of my page. I have seen my pages viewed per visit actually go up while visitors can actually find what they are looking for with less clicks so I am happy I implemented it. As time goes on I will need to refine my major topics to try and keep the number below 20.

  47. I have used not more than 15 categories, if i need more i tag them using autometa (WordPress plugin).

  48. I have 26 categories, but I’m trying to cut that by half at least. I use tags though, so that might bring up my total to over a hundred.

  49. It’s not the quantity of categories that’s important but the quality of the category content.

  50. 13 categories. Most of my post fall under 4 of them. The rest are needed but not often used, ie. Site News, etc.

    I think you can definitely have too many. Overwhelming readers with topics is a good way to get them to go somewhere else. Trying to cover too much content will cause your posts to be lackluster in my opinion. I think that concentrating on 3 or 4 things you do or know very well produces the highest quality product.

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