Why I No Longer Use Categories for My Blog Posts

One of the most significant changes that occurred in my recent transition to this URL as my blog instead of my landing page happened in the backend and wasn’t obviously visual.

What was it? It’s the fact that I no longer use categories for my posts. None.

Technically-speaking, that’s not 100% true since I’m forced to choose at least one category when publishing so I am using one category but I don’t actually choose it manually in the publishing process since I’ve set it as my “default” category.

It’s one less button to click and it’s honestly quite nice to have one less decision to make (oh, and don’t forget, I don’t use tags either).

I have two categories, technically-speaking.

I have two categories, technically-speaking.

Shocked? You might be.

Technically-speaking, I have two categories, the first being “Start” and the other being “Omega” – the former is any post since the old TentBlogger brand was established, starting back in September of 2010. The latter is a previous brand called Human3rror – some of you (maybe a very few of you) will remember this previous brand.

When I hit the publish button today it sits in the “Start” category. And that’s about it. I don’t plan on adding a new category anytime soon and I’m not sure I ever will because if I did I would be tempted to re-categorize over 1,000 posts and ain’t nobody got time for dat!

Now, for to answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind… Why are you not using any categories? I thought that was great for SEO, XXXXXX, YYYYY, and ZZZZZZ?!?

You’re right, by the way (on the last part) and I do coach and counsel bloggers to choose focused categories and limit the amount to about 6-8, if you can. I still believe that for 99.99% of bloggers that categories are both meaningful and helpful for search engine ranking, usability, and user experience.

But for where I sit today with this blog I honestly just don’t care enough about categorizing the content and the benefits that I might lose are trumped by the fact that I’m not fighting for keywords anymore (or ranking) – I’ve just been around for so long that I’ve got legacy with the search engines to start.

And most of my readers simply come in via my two marketing protocols: Twitter (@saddington) and RSS (Feedburner). I tweet every single post and I’ve got thousands of readers who consume it through their RSS Reader (I use Feedly, btw… what about you?).

Finally, I suppose I’ll just sum it by saying that I am part of that .01% who have been blogging for so long that my personal brand has been established in the eyes of search engine and my readers and I don’t need categories to enhance either one in super-strategic ways.

Oh, and perhaps I’m just lazy – when I get done drafting I just want to hit that “Publish” button more than anything in the world – I could care less about the categories at this point.

  • Matthew Snider

    I think for your site it’s dead on and a solid move, not a lazy one. For other sites this may not work. Good stuff John, always pushing to get outside of the box.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      word up.

  • http://jorgesilvestrini.com/ Jorge Silvestrini

    Yeah, I remember asking you about tags some time back! Categories, I struggle with this one. I use some of them, but lately – been defining everything as Daily Question… It gives me a topic to write something short and keep my writing going!

    Feedly – yes… Have it on Chrome – iPad – iPhone. It sometimes doesn’t want to sync everything but I’ve read they are finishing all the touches and it should work almost perfectly soon. I’ve erased and re-installed on all platforms just in case as Feedly suggested in their blog.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      feedly is not perfect but it’s working well enough.

      • http://josuemolina.com/ J.Molina

        @JSilvestrini:disqus Feedly works. Cleaned up the email with all the annoying mail subscriptions. But even then, that can get clogged up. I think that approach is the same with categories. Simple: 2 or 3 related to your personal brand.

        What you think John?

        • http://John.do/ John Saddington

          i’d be down with that.

  • http://josuemolina.com/ J.Molina

    @saddington:disqus aint not body got time for dat, my friend. Simple is better. Plus like you said, your previous efforts in optimizing leverages your new content. So you can relax and just produce right?

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      that’s right. seriously.

  • http://www.jonny.es/ Jonny McCormick

    Human3rror FTW.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      lol. yeah…..

    • http://www.dewittrobinson.com Dewitt Robinson

      I remember that blog too Jonny. lol

  • bethany lee

    Wait a minute– are you saying that when you switched URLs your SEO power followed you from tent blogger? How do you make that happen? I mentioned I am shutting down my old blog but would live if I could somehow keep the SEO history I built with it. Is that possible?

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      yes. i totally kept the SEO juice. any direct link to tentblogger.com/XXXXXXXXX now redirects seamlessly to john.do/XXXXXXXX

  • http://www.ivoryjohn.com/ John Wylie

    You are the .01%!

  • Ruben Avila

    So, Digg just added rss feed support…

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      it’s true. i’m waiting for an invite…

      • Ruben Avila

        I’ll be patiently waiting to read your thoughts on the service. I’m intrigued.

  • http://dustn.tv/ Dustin W. Stout

    Wow… it’s like you grabbed the mic and said,

    “F&$# categories.”

    …dropped the mic and walked away.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      yeah. just like that. ;)

  • http://danl.im/ Daniel Lim

    You’re always pushing the envelope John. Love how it’s always kind of experimental and bold at the same time. Thank you for always sharing these insights with us.

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I love this concept, John. I’m a minimalist at heart. I try to limit my categories to five or less, but then wind up starting new categories with any new series. Then I decide to pare down and have to manually change a bunch of posts to fewer categories. I won’t do that again because there are just too many posts to deal with now. But just one. That’s intriguing.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      ;)

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Reeder…and yes, I follow your blog through RSS. Always enjoy it too!

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      thanks!

  • http://www.chipbennett.net/ Chip Bennett

    I think a kitten dies every time someone makes a site content decision based solely on SEO considerations.

    Categories were not created for the purposes of SEO; categories are a taxonomy, intended for human consumption. They are a means of identifying content that is related to other content, so that your readers can find other content related to what they are currently reading.

    Whether you use them or not is certainly up to you; but I would much prefer to see a human consumption-based argument, rather than an SEO argument.

    • http://John.do/ John Saddington

      this kind of was one. my own!