I’m Still Lazy… Are WordPress category descriptions worth the time?

A few weeks ago I asked whether the “title” tag was worth the time it took to put into the a href tag. The consensus was overwhelmingly yes, not only for SEO but also for 1) the good of those who are disabled and 2) usability (gives the reader context for where the link will take them).

Now, I want to ask another question to the Performancing community:

Do you use WordPress category descriptions? If so, why? If not, why not?

14 thoughts on “I’m Still Lazy… Are WordPress category descriptions worth the time?

  1. Category description is useful for google to index your category page. And to supply appropriate keywords to the page if you have ads on it.

  2. I found I had to use them. WordPress won’t let you have duplicate category names, and I have hundreds of categories and a dropdown/flyout menu where I often want the same name, so I use the description. For instance:

    construction > books
    finance > books

    I found them pretty nifty for that…

  3. I figure categories are worth the effort because people can see the categories you’re posting to and maybe want to check out what else you’ve had to say on the subject. If your site is very narrowly focused, perhaps there’s no need. But if you have a wide variety of subject matter that you talk about (like my political site, which can get somewhat wide-ranging) you’re going to want to keep those people interested in what you say about a topic continuing to read if you can.

    Not the most earth-shakingly compelling reason. If you’re lazy, I say don’t bother with the effort! However, I do see people checking out my categories on a regular basis, so that encourages me to keep them. In fact, reading above, maybe I’ll get crack-a-latin’ on an improved categories page. . .

    Of course, WP will soon be moving to more of a tagging scenario, in which case the whole conversation may be deemed irrelevant. . . .

  4. I agree with Ahmed – category descriptions are only useful if you’re going to display them. I’ve been using the Sandbox theme for WordPress on a couple of projects and that makes very good use of the category description. Gives you an opportunity to create static, keyword-rich copy for your category homepages.

  5. If I’m not doing it now, I’d like to pro-actively make my templates to have tag-clouds that make up categories of the posts. The only exception is the videos. I used to have categories for “Videos” .. then I broke it up to “YouTube Videos” and “Metacafe Videos” etc .. On some of my blogs, I might post several categories like “Magic” and “Video” ..

    Now I’m back to just “Videos” – 1 category. I am more concerned when people see my entry in their bloglines or feed reader and do not see any video. If I coded it to “humour” or “political” or something else .. they still wouldn’t know what is going on – because there is no video showing. But, if they see “Video” under the permalink title .. I think they get it and click on the post title and come to my site. And if they don’t .. the title should kind of give it away.

    PS .. I’m one of the ones quite disappointed with where WordPress has gone with respect to the categories, blogrolls, etc. I wish I hadn’t put much thought into how I created the categories .. as now its a hinderance with the upgraded versions. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! But, oh well – have to live with it!

  6. You first do some planning. Left to themselves, categories can grow out of control like weeds – do you put this YouTube post in the video category, the social-networking category, or the cool sites category? If you are going to display your list of categories, you need to collect your thoughts and create a hierarchy. Video for YouTube, the DVD review, the new Apple iPhone ad, for example.

    The upcoming version of WordPress supposedly includes taxonomy, which could solve the whole category mess.

  7. That’s what I do. I set up category.php to display the category description at the top of the category page. I also put the description in the title attribute for the category links in the sidebar. I don’t know how many themes do it this way, but I have extensively edited my theme any way, so it is no problem.

  8. Ryan,

    There’s only one scenario where category descriptions are useful – if you’re going to display them.

    And the best place to display the category descriptions are on your category.php page. Now hardly any free themes use category.php, but if you do a custom wp theme you might ask your designer to set up up a custom category.php to display category-specific information on your blog.

    For example, you might want to show a category-associated image and description, as well as basic category stats and full category archives. You can do that through using a category images plugin, a page navigation plugin and a custom category.php.

  9. I think category descriptions should be there depending on where we are displaying that list of categories. If it’s in the sidebar, then I think putting the description is kind of necessary to help visitors know more about that topics but if one is only displaying them into the archives, like I do. I don’t see any reason why it should be having description.

  10. Not worth it. If the name/cat-slug isn’t descriptive enough, little is the chance I’ll understand the description.

    On a less sarcastic note, IMHO they only make sense if you create a landing site displaying your categories in blocks.

  11. I say no, because some themes display the description openly, cluttering up the navigation.

  12. Personally, I’ve never used them, but like I say in the title, I’m lazy. Always willing to change though!

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