Murdering my Darlings; A decrease in categories

Posted by on July 21, 2010 at 8:15 am.

wall-E.07.21.10.jpgHere at Celebrate Life, checking out my Category section was a bit of an embarrassment. They were a big mess. There were times when I had posts listed under multiple categories. It’s something I didn’t like. However, I decided to push it out of my mind, and not think about other things. Your problems will magically disappear if you do that. Ok, that’s not true… They don’t go away, however, they can get bigger!

In my case, that’s exactly what happened. Although I completely ignored my category mess, it didn’t stop me from adding more. Yeah, yeah, I know that didn’t make any sense. My little darlings kept growing, and growing… it was out of control! Yes, in many cases those categories were repetitive. I had a hard time getting my “it’s the same but it isn’t the same” category naming tendencies under control. Let’s not even go into how many I had, mkay?

Yesterday, I took action, and eliminated a lot of categories. What caused this change of heart? Being a person who loves stats, I had already checked the effectiveness of the Categories via Google Analytics Site Overlay (very similar to Heatmap.) It confirmed my suspicions, my readers, rarely used my categories. The amount that do, was under 4%. That tag cloud I have? Well that doesn’t get used a lot either. I’m happy to say I’ve cut my categories down to nine. It’s simplistic, and not as confusing as before.

I’d recommend Google Site Analytics Site Overlay feature (or something similar) for anyone that is focused on building their virtual community. It lets you know what interests your readers, and where they are clicking too. With my older sites, I used it for many things, one of those being a spot that would get the most clicks for my Top Commenter’s. It’s always nice sending referrals their way.

Here’s something to think about… this site is still new the top way I’m getting traffic is simply by commenting on other peoples websites. I don’t comment on a lot of sites at the moment, my time is limited however when I actually do read what you write and am not giving you a canned answer with my response. I try to add to the conversation. It’s paid off since people have come to my site, that’s known as a referral.

In hindsight, I should have created my categories when I started this website, instead of creating them as I wrote.

If you’re a WordPress user and have the urge to decrease your categories. I’d like to recommend a WordPress Plug In that might make the transition a lot easier.

Recommended WordPress Plugin

Broken Link Checker created by Janis Elsts

It does exactly what it says, if youโ€™re like myself and do a bit of internal linking, yes I linked to categories in some of my posts, chances are you might have a broken link. You want this WordPress plugin, seriously! This little addon will track them down for you and let you fix them. That it folks, after you’ve cleaned your categories to a respectable size, head on over to your PlugIns and click on the Broken Link Checker. You did install it right? No, what are you waiting for? If not grab it from the Plugin section in your admin tools, click on New, enter Broken Link Checker, install, activate, and you’re ready to go.

Of course, you can use this WordPress Plug in for more things than fixing your categories. I installed this a few weeks ago. I found a few broken links after the installation, and was able to update the links to point to the correct link in a few easy steps.

Cleaning up those broken category links will help out tremendously since your visitors won’t be tossed onto the dreaded 404 error page (which isn’t so dreadful if you have customized it.) For the record, I haven’t customized my 404 Error page yet, but it’s one of the things I’ll complete today.

Oh, the phrase Murder your Darlings, came from the excellent article by Rob Parnell.


  • Amber Garner says:

    I did notice your categories yesterday! Good to hear you’ve cleaned them up a bit. I don’t really use categories, I prefer tags… I think I post about too many random things for categories. Maybe eventually I will use them though. Thanks for turning me on to Site Overlay- Haven’t really used Google Analytics to its full potential yet! Still a learning curve.


  • Moondancer says:

    Heya Amber Garner – I’m glad I finally cut them down too.

    I use tags, but am sceptical about them too. I eliminated the tag cloud. I noticed it was slowing down the loading page a lot, which is something I didn’t want. The Google sitemap was helpful since it showed me less than 2% were clicking on that cloud, if it had been higher I would have thought about keeping it. I just would have looked for a way to decrease the load time.

    I’m currently researching the importance of tags/tag clouds. My issue is that the tags can create too many links pointing to the same article. I’m wondering how in the world can that be good for SEO. It seems kind of messy to me, but I don’t know so I’m searching for answers. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did remove it, if I can find credible info supporting it then I’ll put it back.

    I follow Matt Cutts blog (he’s the head of Google’s Webspam team.) He writes some informative articles, I read the comments too, since they can be extremely helpful also.


  • Maira Grove says:

    Whew, So it is not as difficult as it seems… I don’t have the plug-in yet, having learned about it just now from you :). I tried to clean these up last week, ugh, what a mess! I also add them as I write and some of them I think don’t even make sense anymore! It truly is embarrassing lol. Thank you for sharing your kung-fu.


    Moondancer Reply:

    @Maira Grove, Heh, it’s always nice to clean up a virtual mess. At times, it can become overwhelming, and you end up with even more of a mess — not fun at all! Here’s hoping you get our little darlings under control too. ๐Ÿ™‚


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