pruning past categories with images of pruned category icons

Out with the Old: Pruning Past Categories

Rex Freiberger Avatar

Written by:

Updated 6:04 am

In case you haven’t noticed, Gadget Review publishes content on consumer tech and appliances. As of June 2023, we had 41 categories that have a thorough corpus planned for them.

Each basically had an enormous tree of information on that one topic (product reviews, buyer’s guides, general resources, comparable resources, the whole shabang). 

Now as of May 2024, we’ve reduced that 41 number to 13 thoroughly-planned categories so that we can go to market with our proprietary True Score system faster. The 13 are:

  1. TVs
  2. Soundbars
  3. Office Chairs
  4. Gaming Chairs
  5. Speakers
  6. Printers
  7. Computer Monitors
  8. Gaming Headsets
  9. Routers
  10. Projectors
  11. Vacuum Cleaners
  12. Air Conditioners
  13. Cell Phone Insurance

Did you know that we used to have over 200 total categories on the site? They were pretty surface-level, not gonna lie. Transparency is one of Gadget Review’s core values, so we need to be honest about our past and what happened to these extra categories.

Let’s Roll Back The Tape

Similarly to our Ditching “Tested” transparency blog, we have to discuss GR’s greedy past. From 2005 (GR’s founding year) to mid-2018, GR published hundreds of legit product reviews where our writers actually tested the products.

legit tested toaster oven review screenshot on gadget review
Here’s a screenshot of our old Panasonic FlashXpress toaster oven review with real images of the toaster oven plus test results like heating speed.

Every year, the competition became more fierce and we struggled to keep up with competitors. We had to do something to survive, and one method that helped us out was to write content about a broad range of categories.

There’s some tough competition in competitive niches like TVs and computer monitors, so we thought if you can’t beat ‘em, try somewhere else.

Then we wrote thousands of product reviews in a wider range of categories to make more moolah without such stiff competition in the same handful of categories. It was a faster way to grow the business, even if we had no expertise in most of those categories. 

We even took advantage of publishing reviews without having tested the products, which we discuss on the page linked above. We eventually wound up with thousands of misleading reviews on the site across 200 categories. Not great.

But as of May 2023, we have been pruning off these surface-level categories that live outside of our shining 41 thoroughly planned categories.

One year later, as of May 2024, we’ve reduced the number of 41 to 13 thoroughly-planned categories so that we can go to market faster with our refreshed guides and reviews that feature our True Scores and Trust Scores.

So How’s The Pruning Been Going?

Here’s our pruning timeline and progress so far:

  • May 2023: 32 surface-level categories were pruned
    • 275 pages were pruned off the site.
  • July 2023: 49 surface-level categories were pruned
    • 676 pages were pruned off the site.
  • October 2023: 77 surface-level categories were pruned
    • Pruned 5,603 pages off the site.
      • The majority were old product reviews (4,403) that were dated and likely unhelpful to our readers at this point.
    • Our 41 thoroughly-planned categories remained, along with the buying guides in our surface-level pillars that were generating decent revenue.
  • November 2023: 25 out of our thoroughly-planned 41 categories were pruned
    • 1,161 pages were pruned off the site.
    • 16 thoroughly-planned categories remain, along with the buying guides in our surface-level categories that were generating decent revenue.
  • January 2024: 16 thoroughly-planned categories remain plus 228 surface-level buyer’s guides earning decent revenue.
  • April 2024: 13 thoroughly-planned categories remain on the site
    • 4 categories were merged into their parent categories because it would be faster to go to market and manage True Scores this way:
      • Gaming Monitors –> Computer Monitors
      • Robot Vacuums –> Vacuum Cleaners
      • All-In-One Printers –> Printers
      • Bluetooth Speakers –> Speakers
  • May 2024: Pruned 144 surface-level buyer’s guides off the site.

“Why did you not lop off all the surface-level categories all at once?” 

To be frank, the 41 planned categories earned about ⅔ of our monthly revenue while the larger group of unplanned, surface-level categories make up the rest, which is still a decent slice of the whole pie.

We’ve been pruning smaller batches at a time to make sure we’re lopping off flawed content that isn’t valuable to us.

There are some unplanned categories that are still earning traction and revenue, so we want to eventually plan thorough corpuses for those categories.

That way, we get them to the same level of expertise as our 13 shining, thoroughly-planned categories for the sake of our readers and to maintain that revenue as well so we can keep the lights on.

Wrap Up

So the jig is up, we’re not kayak or Nerf gun experts. Apologies if you thought that we were from the past. We’re trying to tidy up the site so it’s as seamless and helpful to our readers as possible. 

Update:

As of April 2024 we’ve removed most if not all of the extraneous categories that we had on the site. Our philosophy is that less is more at this point.

We’d of course like to grow gradually, eventually have 20 categories, then 40 categories. But the traffic and more importantly the expertise has to be there.

Too many categories thins out our focus and doesn’t allow us to provide the best possible product to you, the reader.

Rex Freiberger Avatar