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Categories: Take It to the Next Level With Better Organization

categoriesWhenever you make a new post on your WordPress blog, you have the opportunity to categorize it. It is not required but SEO experts will recommend it for better search engine results, as well as ease of navigation. I have to admit…I cringe whenever I see “Uncategorized” on a blog post. The very first thing you should do on your WordPress blog is change that category name, and create several more categories.

Categories as Clues

Categories act as file folders in a crowded file cabinet. It is easy to find the proper information if it is filed correctly, and retrieved easily.

You can create a new category on your WordPress blog in one of two ways:

  1. Go to Posts > Categories in your dashboard, and create as many categories as you’d like, all at once.
  2. For true easy creation, click Add Category from the “Categories” box, while creating a post.

OPTION 1. – THE DASHBOARD OPTION

The dashboard option allows you to edit and manage all of your categories at once.

Via the dashboard option, you can add category descriptions (which are shown in some themes), and even create a category hierarchy (parent/child) with sub-categories. This is like labeling your hanging files with one title (ie. Tax Records) and adding labeled sub-folders within (2010 taxes, 2011 taxes, 2012 taxes, etc.).

Option 1. also allows you to delete categories. Deleting a category doesn’t erase your blog post but does move it to your default category (which, as we know, is titled “Uncategorized”, if you never changed it).

Categories and sub-categories are used to help visitors find what they need. Tags can help as well but they tend to be more voluminous and subject specific. For example, let’s say you have a recipe blog and one category is vegetarian foods, while another is chicken recipes.

You would post chicken recipes within the chicken category, but you might use a variety of more specific tags, such as “Mexican chicken,” “salsa chicken,” and “spicy chicken” as well.

MAKING IMPORTANT CHANGES

Changing your “Uncategorized” Category (which is the only category in WordPress out of the box) to something different is very simple. Go to Posts > Categories and click Uncategorized. Change the name from within the “Edit Category” screen. Be sure to change your slug, too. This is what will be used in your blog post URLs, and thus should match the category name whenever possible (for the best SEO advantage).

Changing your Default Category is also very simple. Go to Settings > Writing and near the top you will find “Default Post Category” with a drop down list of all your current categories. Select the category that you would like to have as your default, then click the Save Changes button. That’s it!

Organized Chaos

Category designation can help your visitors navigate your website with ease. As mentioned above, if your website features recipes, you can categorize your posts by food, ethnicity, topic, or some other category. Then if a visitor is interested in chicken, all the chicken recipes will be at her fingertips.

The only downside to categories is if you over do it. Select your categories wisely. If you offer a long list of category selections, you can overwhelm and confuse your visitors. If there are several categories you want to feature, consider consolidating some or adding sub-categories. Often, this is where you might want to consider using a tag instead.

Taking control of your categories is both advantageous to your SEO, but also helpful to your many guests.


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