Ethereal Matters

I’ve spent the last few days putting together a road map of content I want to write. 

I have a good idea where to start with the actual pieces of content, but I want to make sure that I’m building things – from the beginning – into some kind of larger structure that will help keep things organized over time.

This has taken some brainstorming. Because, while I have solid initial ideas for specific pieces of content, I don’t want things to end up as a mish-mash of unrelated, stand alone content pieces. I want some themes to help direct my overall message.

I don’t want to get this part wrong, because once I have a lot of content it will likely be a ton of work to try and go back to reorganize everything after the fact. It also seems so very boring.

What I need are some categories. Basic containers that exist to hold my various pieces of individual content and which have a unifying theme/concept when taken in whole.

So far, I’ve come up with a category structure that has 12 main content types. This has gone through several revisions. Here it is. 

Is this the coolest picture you’ve ever seen in a blog post, or what? Don’t act like you’re not impressed

I’ve tried to make this structure general enough that it can contain many pieces of content, but specific enough that I can use it as a type of site navigation.

Mixed in here are a couple of category types I didn’t even think of until I sat down and started writing things out. Which is great, because it gives me entire separate branches of content to explore. This “get organized” thing is already paying dividends. 

What I Learned Building A Category Plan

This category stuff is important for search engines. That’s something I didn’t know until I started reading about WordPress categories online.

Since I have no idea (yet) how I’m going to get any traffic to the big blog, I figure that search traffic might be of core importance for the foreseeable future. 

That means that the whole concept of pre-creating and thinking about categories really has two important guiding principles.

A Side Note
I don’t know a lot about tweaking content for search engines, but I do know that “search engine optimization” is a thing people do. I suspect I’ll need to learn a lot more. I also suspect that it might end up being important to me for a different set of reasons than getting Page A or Page B to rank well for Search Phrase A or Search Phrase B. We’ll talk about this later.

In line with the overall topic of this post, I feel it’s important to point out that I’m not interested in reorganizing my categories based on what search engines like. I didn’t even know that was a thing until yesterday.

What I am looking for is a set of categories that makes sense for the blog while simultaneously not doing anything that is going to make me look bad to the search engines. Also, by “search engines” I clearly mean GOOGLE, since they control almost the entire search ecosystem in the developed world.

WPBeginner has a bit to say about this category stuff. Their piece explaining the difference between “categories” and “tags” is pretty good.

I think I already had some intuitive understanding of how categories and tags are different, but reading though the WPBeginner article made me realize I’d built some categories that would work better as tags. That led me to eliminate the “taggy” categories, which led to another round of rewriting and organization.

After a few drafts, I’ve come up with the basic category structure pictured above. I think this is a good starting point, and I’m going to roll with it.

I didn’t feel like I needed a lot of help coming up with categories for the Big blog, and I didn’t do a lot of poking around for help on how to think of what categories to make/use. If this is something you’d like a little help brainstorming, I think the people at CoSchedule have a decent article on the subject. The ProBlogger team also tackles this.

Creating Blog Categories: Things I’ve Learned

  • My WordPress theme might play a role in this whole category thing. That’s because some themes have limits on how they display categories or how many categories they’ll allow to appear in various menus. Who knew? Not me, that’s who. Oh, by the way, I learned a little about Themes. I’ll write about that soon and I’ll link to it from this paragraph.
  • Search engines might care about how your categories are laid out. I’ll be learning more about this as the site develops.
  • Managing the site’s organization is going to be an ongoing process. As content gets added, I’ll probably end up with some categories that have a LOT of content, and some that only have a little. At that point I’ll probably have to create some new categories and eliminate others. Common sense, I guess, but not something I’d consciously considered prior to this part of the project.

So now we’ve learned about how to choose categories for a blog. Cool.

Summary: 

After reading about how to organize my content, I created a category system. The category system had to follow certain rules so it played well with my WordPress theme and also didn’t make The Google angry. My category system is now built, but will probably get tweaked as more and more content is added to the big blog.

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