The Conversion-Focused Way To Define Your Blog Categories

Last Updated on March 20, 2020  

One night, I was laying there in bed. I should have been sleeping, but instead I was thinking about my blog – and blogging strategy in general.

Yeah, I’m weird like that. 😉

I had a little aha moment.

It was one of those things where I had to get my iPhone and jot down a note to myself on my idea before I forgot.  Bedtime ideas are one of those curses of being an entrepreneur, I guess. 😉

It has to do with how you define your blog categories.

This is something most bloggers just do without putting hardly any thought into it. However, there’s a way that we can define our blog categories that will actually help us with our conversions.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Could something as simple as the way we phrase and show our categories actually help us generate more leads and more sales with our blog?” quote=”Could something as simple as the way we phrase and show our categories actually help us generate more leads and more sales with our blog?”]

The Usual Way Of Doing Categories

Blog categories are usually used as little digital filing cabinets. You look at the content you’re creating (or want to create) and you break it down into major content divisions and you define your categories that way.

But, there are a few problems with doing it this way:

  • You inevitably end up expanding your category tree over time as your content adjusts.
  • You may end up with way too many categories and it just becomes unwieldy.
  • The categories end up being a bit meaningless.

In addition to the “nag factor” of categories for the blogger, there’s also this pesky fact:

Your reader doesn’t really navigate that way.

Now, true… if you have categories in your top menu, readers will probably use it. But, then again, most of the time that reader is just hunting and pecking. They don’t really know what they want. They’re just surfing casually to see what you have to offer.

That kind of aimless surfing of your blog doesn’t really lead to buyers, more often than not.

Most readers will check out the most recent posts on your blog and make the “read or not read” determination based on that. So, in that case, the categories just don’t resonate.

And so we, as bloggers, get our knickers in a twist over blog categories and, more often than not, it is all for nothing.

A More Strategic Approach To Defining Blog Categories

Let’s back up a moment and let me restate a couple of core considerations about blog-based marketing:

  • The primary function of your blog is to communicate the benefits that your prospect is looking for and then motivate them to take the first step in your marketing funnel – namely, email opt-in.
  • The web visitor is surfing the net in a constant state of “What’s in it for me?”. They will subscribe to you if you offer them something they want. In other words, it is about THEM, not you.
  • This is a communication business, and in order for communication to take place, you have to be talking to them on common ground. There needs to be a common reality between what you’re talking about and what they’re looking for.

OK, so the idea for blog categories is this…

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Turn your blog categories into ‘hot buttons’ for your market, each being a major benefit that your target market is looking for.” quote=”Turn your blog categories into ‘hot buttons’ for your market, each being a major benefit that your target market is looking for.”]

So, instead of it being a filing cabinet, your category is actually something that your market is LOOKING FOR, and the posts to deliver them that outcome will be found there.

Not only that, you can actually name the category something which will communicate to your market.

So, an example….

A Sample Category Structure Optimized For Conversions

If we were to take a typical category structure for a blog like this one (Blog Marketing Academy), it might look something like this:

  • Content Creation
  • Conversions
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • News
  • Social Media
  • Technical
  • Traffic

The list could very easily go on. But, one thing stands out…

These are all just simple nouns. They would function like filing cabinets. They’re actually quite vague. Then, every time a new post is published, the question would be asked “Which category does this post fit in?” We end up thinking about it. And, if it doesn’t feel like it fits in one, we would create a new one. Or, we end up assigning the post to multiple categories.

In the end, it ends up being more work for us. The actual end user? This doesn’t help them at all!

So, what if we re-thought the entire categories structure so that it was organized by things that our readers actually want to accomplish?

Here’s a different potential category structure:

  • Get More Traffic
  • Build My Platform
  • Sell More Stuff
  • Increase Engagement
  • Be More Productive
  • Build My Business

Once again, we could easily get more granular about this if we wanted to. This is only an example. But, I want you to notice…

Each category is phrased from the point of view of the reader. It is designed to capture and OUTCOME that they may want. It doesn’t just contain a simple noun, but it is a verb and a noun. There’s action involved. There’s an outcome involved.

Now, all this could be just a big exercise in naming conventions if not for one other thing…

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Your blog will much more effectively communicate the benefits it offers if these benefit-based categories are out in the open in front of people’s eyeballs.” quote=”Your blog will much more effectively communicate the benefits it offers if these benefit-based categories are out in the open in front of people’s eyeballs.”]

So, you know how many blogs will display their categories in their top navigation or in their sidebar? Wherever your categories may appear, people will scan them over.

Now your categories are an actual marketing tool.

When a person scans over your categories, they’re now going to see not a big, boring list of topics… they’re going to see a list of benefits! All of those benefits will clearly show what the value proposition is for your business, your offers and your blog.

How To Maximize Marketing Results With These Categories

This simple re-thinking of how to define your blog categories will align your blog structure around your benefits and make it easier for people to find the stuff they’re interested in.

However, to really make this strategy be more than just an organizational exercise, you need to actually USE these categories to funnel people into the offers that is right for them.

You can easily design and map your blog categories to specific marketing goals:

  • Each benefit-driven category can be mapped to a specific lead magnet focused on that specific outcome. Every post in that category could then show a targeted lead magnet.
  • You could map actual products/services to the categories. The posts in that category will put people into funnels which lead to the right offer for them.

This way, each blog post leads into your entire sales funnel structure in the exact right way for the benefit that reader wants.

With a system like Thrive Leads in use on your blog, it is very easy to map entire sets of opt-in forms to specific categories.

Having this strategically defined set of categories combined with a tool like Thrive Leads will give you the framework for one hell of a content marketing powerhouse.

You accomplish two things:

  1. You can increase opt-in rates because the opt-in is now tightly related to the BENEFIT the person was looking for on your site.
  2. By tracking which opt-in they used, you now know what that person is interested in. You can then follow up accordingly with more targeted email messages.

Not to mention that you can map each benefit-based category to an offer of some kind and increase conversions.


About David Risley

David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. He founded this site in 2008 after growing his initial technology blog into a commercial success. He has taught and/or coached multiple thousands of students, across a wide variety of niches. He also has a keen skill in the technical side of Wordpress and helps clients build their own platform. He is based in Florida, loves RVing and crypto, and an occasional cigar. Oh, and sushi. Read his full story.

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  • John Vaughan says:

    Awesome David. So with a blog with hundreds of posts, do you know a way of getting a list of every post so I can start the recategorisation exercise?

    • David Risley says:

      Well, there are some ways to dump a CSV or something like that, if that’s what you’re asking. But, that wouldn’t be of much help to you in terms of re-categorizing your posts.

      In WordPress, you can alter the post list to show a lot more posts at the same time on one screen. And you can also bulk edit posts by checking them off.

      Another cool plugin is called Admin Columns, where you can create custom post list screens and change the columns being shown up. It’s useful for quickly seeing what categories are assigned to posts.

      There’s a pro version, too, but you might not need that.

  • File folders vs marketing funnels. Genius. Very slick. I’m doing this immediately. Thank you!

  • Great idea, David. I would still like to keep my existing categories because they’re app specific, but I would like like guide my readers to particular broader actions. Thanks for writing this.

  • Marylee P says:

    Awesome David! I’m so glad you got up to note this one! I have had redoing my categories on my to do list for far too long. I think I wasn’t getting around to it because it really didn’t make sense. (The traditional method.)
    Now I know why! A huge thank you!

  • Kathy Hadley says:

    This is brilliant. I can’t believe it has not been thought of before.

    Makes total sense and I am going to change my categories now.


  • Paul Sarwana says:

    Love your execution David. Never think about. That’s what I call the customer-centric approach. Starting with understanding visitors’ hot buttons and finishing it with benefit-based categories. This way we can segment readers’ interest using the categories, which is very helpful for building more relevant conversations with them.

  • Shaun Overton says:

    Amazing idea – so simple… I wish I thought of this 5 years ago.

  • Thanks David! It looks like I have a big category overhaul coming!!! 🙂 🙂

  • Nathalie Lussier says:

    Love this idea David! I’ve been looking at my categories and just feeling uninspired in general, so was super excited to read this from you. 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    Super smart as usual, David. Assuming if you change all your categories that you’ll need to set up 301 redirects from the old to the new? Or would you bother with that? Thanks!

    • David Risley says:

      Not gonna worry about it. I doubt people are really linking directly to my category pages.

  • Kevin Cheng says:

    David – Great post and perfect timing, since I’m preparing to launch my first blog and have been thinking precisely about how to best name and use the WP categories. What you say (organizing based on the main categories of benefits to the reader) makes perfect sense. It takes more thought at the beginning, and it also might be challenging at times to put a post/podcast/video into one category (i.e. there can be overlap among categories in some cases), but I think that with a little forethought, this shouldn’t be an issue. And your readers will be that much more attracted to your content and engaged with you because you’ve made it that much easier to find (and remind them) what they’re looking for.

    • David Risley says:

      Bingo. Thanks, Kevin. 🙂

  • Patricia Knight says:

    I never thought of it that way. Will have to spend some time thinking how I can apply this concept to my photography blog which is geared towards high school seniors and their parents.

  • Bill Huston says:

    This is great stuff and a completely different way of approaching the process of blogging. I have never been this strategic about creating a process for blogging with goals and objectives. You are opening up a entirely new paradigm for me.

  • thefilingfairies says:

    As a professional organiser I love love love this idea
    Like a bullet straight to the top of my to do list
    Thank you
    PS I too suffer the bedtime curse constantly reaching out to make notes

    • David Risley says:

      Hehe… yeah, I’m usually pretty good at shutting down at night. But, when the idea hits, its best to note it down. 🙂

  • Kareem Elsayed says:

    David, genius idea. I will definitely shoot to implement this weekend!

  • Nigel MerrickNigel Merrick says:

    Hi David – “Great post” doesn’t seem to cut it for this one!

    I’ve been thinking about the topic of categories for a while, wondering about their SEO characteristics and (more importantly) ways to make them more engaging, and you’ve brought the whole subject into clearer focus.

    I shared this far and wide, and I really hope people who read this fully understand the implications of thinking in this new and more meaningful way – it’s a game changer, for sure.

    Keep up the great work.


  • Perfect timing on this. I’m doing a complete site overhaul and looking at my categories was a first step. Using Google Analytics, I could see the popularity of the categories. I dropped two categories and renamed a few of the existing.

    Per this post, I’m going to take a closer look at my existing categories and see if there is a better name for any of them.

    One question, should a blog post only be in one category or is it ok for a post to be in two categories.

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