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As we mentioned in Chapter 4, category pages are the top-level pages for each section of your site, so they split the content up into the same chunks as your main navigation. They are summary pages providing key points about the information within that section and showing links to deeper or more complete content on underlying topic in detail pages. You can also think of them as mini homepages for each category of information displaying recent additions and the most popular content, as well as an overview. In Chapter 5, we talked about the importance of providing summaries for each detail page on your site.
I mentioned how those could be reused as metadata and in other places around the site. Category pages are one of those locations where you can reuse the summary content. Choose some of the most popular or most recent items in each section of the site and put their summary text on the Category page along with the thumbnail image. This is the same recommendation I gave in the homepage chapter and there is a reason for it. Providing this consistency through the site, allows your visitors to easily understand the site's layout and structure. They follow the area they're interested in from the homepage to the category page, and then, from the category page through to the individual article.
Some high profile articles might find their way directly to the homepage; but you can also add those items on the Category page as well. Remember, the Category page probably has more relevant keywords on it, so it's quite likely that people who come to your site from a search engine will be dropped on the Category page, rather than on the homepage. Indeed, Category pages are a great way of providing additional search goodness, while also helping your visitors. There is no need to keyword stuff, because the page summaries are already very keyword rich for the topics you cover anyway.
Now I want to go back to Fitt's Law for a second. When you create a Category page, you're aggregating content from several detail pages into one location. Now, what bit should be clickable? If you're just copying across the heading, summary text and the thumbnail image, you're really creating the equivalent of the super menu on the page. So why not make the whole area into one big target? It's funny seeing tiny click here or read more links on the page when the whole item could be clickable. It still worth signaling that the item can be clicked on, by for instance, having an on hover underline for the heading.
The only time I wouldn't recommend making the whole area clickable, is if the pages that you link to, are topic pages or detail pages with lots of related links. In other words, pages that themselves have several different items of interest. Here's an example of what I mean. Notice how the summary text contains several links which all point to different detail pages in this topic area. Sometimes you may also list out other related links directly underneath the summary. This is most useful on Internet sites and other places where you can expect visitors to just have a good understanding of what they're looking for, but where they need a little bit of guidance actually getting to the right place.
The Category page lets them know what vocabulary you use for the terms that they care about, and helps them choose between several potentially similar items. Obviously, with all these links, there is no one place that a single clickable area would take you, so you just have to make sure that each of the individual link targets is sufficiently large and descriptive. So, the reason to create category pages is that they are a great way to help visitors orient themselves on the site. They help people understand what to expect from each section of the site and they're very heavy in keywords, which makes them a good candidate for high placing in organic search results.
Category pages correspond to your navigation menu items. If you only have a small quantity of content on your site, you may not need Category pages, because you can direct people from the homepage or menus, directly to your detail pages. As your site grows though or if you already have a lot of detail pages, then Category pages help to keep people on track, as they navigate through your site.
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