December 23, 2019 Last updated December 20th, 2019 5,068 Reads share

Full 2019 Guide to Website Categorization

Guide Website CategorizationImage Credit:

Full 2019 Guide to Website Categorization

Website categorization is defined as classifying websites based on their content and purpose. Website categorization in correlation with other data feeds is mainly used as a cybersecurity tool to examine website credentials or identify malicious domains and sites.

However, this method of gathering cyber intelligence can also prove useful in branding and marketing efforts.

In this article, we will talk about the mechanism behind sophisticated website categorization and its many uses that can benefit your business. 

How website categorization works

Website categorization can be done on a large scale using specialized tools, or manually by accessing large databases of online domains. For example, you may receive an email from your bank, containing a link that leads you to a certain page. If you’re not sure whether this email and links are legitimate, all you have to do is conduct a little research. You can paste the URL here, and simply check who is behind the address.

There are plenty of providers for this service, but the quality varies. Website categorization relies heavily upon the provider’s ability to examine and test existing and new domains, and update the database on a regular basis.

Sometimes, it takes over a month or a cybersecurity incident for a website to be added to the list of malicious or low-credibility sites. This is why limited-feature or non-automated tools should be taken with a grain of salt. 

So what do you want from high-quality website categorization tools? Basically, what you need is something that simulates the way you would manually peruse and classify a website.

Sophisticated API tools achieve this by combining machine learning and human supervision, so website categorization tool would use a three-level classification process that includes:

-Analysis of website response during a crawling session, which encompasses catching, storing, and organizing web content

– Analysis of stored content via machine learning – this essentially means that the tool learns to recognize categories of websites based on previous “experiences,” noticing patterns that are typical for malicious websites or any other category you are looking for Human authentication of the analyzed content

The database this API tool relies on is thus updated on an hourly and daily basis, allowing you to categorize websites and gather cyber information with a greater degree of certainty. 

4 Ways to Use Website Categorization

Advanced website categorization tools that analyze web content on a large scale can also be a source of valuable data you can use in your marketing and branding efforts. Let’s dive deeper into these uses.

1. Malware detection

Cyberattacks nowadays can have catastrophic consequences on both small businesses and large enterprises. As user’s and company’s confidential data is stored online, security breaches are not costly only in terms of a disrupted workflow – they can also incur legal damages and a tarnished reputation. 

Preventing cyberattacks is much easier than dealing with their aftermath and consequences. Website categorization is a tool that is focused on getting ahead of the curve by allowing businesses to analyze domains of their website visitors and check if there are any repeated visits or access attempts from particular URLs. If there are such URLs, this tool supported by domain monitoring solutions can identify if their domains contain any malicious activities, including malware, phishing, fraud, and spyware.

For example, e-commerce businesses often deal with form jacking, which means implanting malicious code into forms filled by buyers. Cybersecurity teams can use website categorization to look for indicators of compromised security, identify the source of attempted attacks and blacklist those domains. 

If you’re using a high-quality tool, a website doesn’t even have to be in the database of malicious websites. If the tool notices “behaviors” that are typical for dangerous sites, the red flags will be included in the report. 

This feature is particularly useful for businesses that constantly exchange information with third-parties, yet want to maintain zero-trust policy by double-checking communication in real-time, even with the most trusted partners.

2. Content filtering

Most businesses use content filtering in some capacity. Whether the goal is to boost productivity or protect your company network from cyberattacks, website categorization is an excellent content filtering tool.

Using more advanced tools for content filtering is a good choice for businesses that want to avoid two typical scenarios that happen with basic filters. Sometimes, these tools are easy to circumvent. Other times, customization isn’t detailed enough, so employees can be cut-off from useful websites that shouldn’t be on the blocked list. For example, an out of context image or sentence could lead to a website being identified as malicious or inappropriate. 

As explained in the previous section, you can also use insights from website categorization to consider whether or not to block domains and certain categories of visitors from accessing your website. 

Using advanced tools like website categorization, you can block unwanted content based on more insightful contextual analysis. 

3. Contextual marketing

Contextual marketing has become increasingly relevant as various data protection and privacy policy regulations are coming into effect around the world, hindering marketers’ efforts to rely on tracking potential customer’s online activity.

Contextual targeting allows businesses to display ads on pages that are similar or relevant to the product or service they offer. For example, if you sell wedding dresses, your ads will be displayed on wedding planner websites.

Google AdWords has its own contextual marketing platform, but the tricky part is customizing it to make the best of it. If you don’t customize campaigns, Google does it for you. Contextual campaigns that aren’t calibrated well can shoot too broad, displaying the ad on any website that contains the keyword. This can result in large expenses and few sales. Similarly, too focused campaigns may result in sales but fail in reaching enough customers.

Website categorization steps in to help businesses conduct large scale research and compile a list of websites based on in-depth contextual analysis. Instead of relying on brainstormed topics and keywords, with website categorization you can find actual websites and pages that are perfectly aligned with your advertising message and goals.

As we mentioned, the website categorization tool allows you to analyze who your website visitors are. Apart from identifying threats, it can also help you identify your target audience and fine-tune your marketing strategy by creating customer profiles based on the data you gathered. 

4. Brand protection

When businesses build and grow their brand, it is important to maintain consistency and prevent potential damage to their image. Website categorization enables this by allowing users to find potential advertising partners, monitor feedback, media placements, and references in unwanted categories. Here’s how you can verify the authenticity of website. 

For example, websites like Paypal are often impersonated in phishing attacks – hackers create pages that look like the actual Paypal website, tricking users into entering their login credentials. These credentials are then taken and used to steal the user’s money. Of course, it is in Paypal’s best interest to ensure this doesn’t happen – so they keep monitoring new domains that seek to imitate their brand and name. 

This feature is also useful for businesses that place great emphasis on preventing copyright infringement.


The way businesses think about cybersecurity is changing. It is no longer something that is stacked on top of a system – nowadays, it is incorporated in the foundations of any company’s network and business strategy.

Website categorization is a tool built with this goal in mind. It makes business aware of its own position, vulnerabilities, and cyber environment. At the same time, it provides users with tools to strengthen their defenses and strategy in a way that is ahead of the curve.