I’m working on improving my blog and becoming more focused. I figure that the best place to start is by fixing my categories. Michael Martin published an article titled Using Categories and Tags Effectively on your Blog for ProBlogger this last week. It suggests limiting the number of categories and placing a post in a single category. It then recommends using ‘tags’ as a supplement for more detailed categorization.
If you take a look at my old category list, it just goes and goes. The picture shown here doesn’t even reach the bottom. I guess I have been using my categories as tags, as they used to be considered interchangeable. Recently, WordPress has decided that ‘tags’ and ‘categories’ are actually different things and they’ve added native tagging to the latest release (version 2.3). I’m anxiously waiting for this release to make it to my Fantastico application manager so that I can upgrade.
Before deciding to just chop away at my categories list, I decided to check my Google Analytics to see which categories are effective and which aren’t. I found some surprising results which I will list here.
I ran reports for the most viewed categories and time spent at category pages. I then compared that with the number of posts that I’ve listed under each category. Here are some of best and worst of the results:
- technology – 71
- business – 43
- life – 34
- web 2.0 – 32
- php – 30
- ideas – 18
- google – 19
Here are some of the conclusions that I’ve drawn from my research. First of all, notice that ‘technology’ has by far the most number of posts, yet it is a definite loser category in that it is the top ‘least viewed’ category and is in the bottom half of time spent list. A category like ‘technology’ is just too broad and blasé. Most of my top posted categories fall in the lower tier of views.
Niche categories like ‘ruby-on-rails’ and ‘cakephp’ fell in the top viewed of categories. These categories didn’t have the most time spent though. I guess the interestingness of the actual posts needs to be improved.
The time spent report is probably the most helpful. It helps me identify categories that people have actually found interesting enough to read through. The categories might need some better naming to increase views, but the content in the categories must be interesting.
Learning From the Professionals
From Freelance Switch
One thing that stands out for me is that many of these categories label a particular series of posts. For example, Freelance Switch has The Lighter Side and The Business of Freelancing. ProBlogger has 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. I could see myself following one of those categories closely. With these types of categories, I know what to expect in future posts and look forward to new posts in the series.
Another observation is that categories that seem to offer me something valuable catch my attention more. Some of the categories that caught my interest the most were Finding Work, Freelancing Essentials, The Perils of Project Management, and The Working Day from Freelance Switch, and Blogging Tools and Services, Case Studies, and Other Income Streams from ProBlogger. These categories seem to contain something that I could take away to benefit my life.
What do I do from here? I need to do some housecleaning and wipe out my ineffective categories. I need to come up with better naming of my categories. I need to come up with some categories that I think I could consistently blog for that will offer my readers value.
We’ll see how I do. Let me know what you think.