5 best website categorization tools

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One of the easiest ways to keep unwanted sites out of your network is through web categorization. It’s also a great way to protect against brand abuse and even rank customers for content personalization.

While using a web classification tool can be straightforward (as you will find out later), choosing the one that best suits your business needs may not be so straightforward.

This article attempts to narrow down the choices for you by presenting five of the best tools on the market. Before we dive into that, however, let’s start with the basics.


  • What is website categorization?
  • Why is website categorization important?
  • How do website categorization tools categorize websites?
  • What should you consider when choosing the right website categorization tool?

The 5 best website categorization tools

  1. WhoisXML API Website Categorization Solutions
  2. Cyren Website URL Category Checker
  3. SafeDNS
  4. Brandfetch
  5. URLfilterDB

What is website categorization?

Website categorization, in very simple terms, refers to the process of classifying websites that users come into contact with into different categories. These categories range from the industries they belong to to more specific descriptions of what they contain.

Why is website categorization important?

As we said earlier, website categorization can improve any business’s marketing, cybersecurity, and branding efforts.

Website categorization can exclude unwanted sites from your network

While not all website categorization tools have built-in cybersecurity features, some do. A comprehensive tool can tell you if a particular site has spam or sensitive content, for example. But even those who can’t could help your IT admins block potential phishing websites from your network. Filtering access to commercial sites, for example, is one way to do this, which also helps increase employee productivity.

Website classification can help protect your brand

Many of the current data breaches originate from a compromised third party (e.g. vendor, partner, etc.). To protect your brand from the unwanted repercussions of a damaged reputation, you can use a website categorization tool to do more in-depth research on your own site and one of the third-party websites you do business with. Making sure that none of your sites or their sites fall into categories that businesses normally block access to is one way to bolster your brand protection efforts.

Categorize websites to personalize content

Personalization of content allows organizations to make their website visitors feel at home. But it’s impossible to know what they’re looking for if you don’t even know what they’re doing. Their sites can give you an idea of ​​what their businesses are and how your offers can benefit them. And a discreet way to do that is to use an efficient web classification tool. You can categorize visitors’ sites to get more information about where they come from, create special pages for their industries, or create more targeted campaigns, for example.

How do website categorization tools categorize websites?

Website classification tools basically categorize websites based on data source. This method is common among cybersecurity solution providers with web filtering offerings, and the rating is typically limited to less than 100 categories.

Other tools use third-party data sources, such as the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) website categories. The IAB has over 500 categories, ranging from industry (eg, automotive), a site belongs to more specific sub-categories (eg, buying and selling automobiles) that zoom in on the products or services they sell.

What should you consider when choosing the right website categorization tool?

Not all website categorization tools are created equal. Most have standard features, but others have more to offer. When looking for the one that matches the needs of your business, there are several aspects to consider.

Categorization level

Sometimes website categorization tools differ when it comes to providing input. Most can categorize websites using domains, while others need more specific URLs or full web page paths (i.e. full URLs).

Output settings and formats

Many website categorization tools have an API consumption model. As such, you can get results in JSON or XML format. But those who go beyond can provide custom URLs (for instant sharing with colleagues) for the results pages.

In terms of results, most only provide a list of the categories they belong to, but some go beyond that. They can give sites the corresponding Alexa rank, subcategories (i.e. levels), trust scores, or threat classifications.

Number of website categories and coverage

Where website categorization tools differ the most is the number of available classifications. Most have less than 100 site categories, while the most comprehensive tools have hundreds. In terms of coverage, the different solutions we’ve seen are roughly equal. They all categorize millions of websites.

Update frequency

All of the website categorization tools featured in this article receive daily updates, making them useful for any type of business.

Rate limits

You can measure the speed of website categorization tools in frames per second. Typical processing time is typically between 10 and 30 requests per second.

Database download availability

The option of downloading databases from categorized sites, which companies that want to use as data sources for existing systems and solutions may find useful, is probably an uncommon feature of the website categorization tool.

Now that you’ve gone through our website’s 101 categorization, you’re ready to see what we called five of the best.

The 5 best website categorization tools

Here are our top picks of website categorization tools.

WhoisXML API Website Categorization Solutions

The WhoisXML API website categorization tools combine machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze website content and meta tags to rank it. Using the domain name as an input, it assigns the over 500 most applicable IAB categories and subcategories to each site queried. It also gives confidence ratings for each category. Basically, the higher the trust score, the more accurate the category is.

The WhoisXML API provides the tool as an API (Website Categorization API) that can be integrated with existing systems and solutions. The results are in the form of JSON files that can be read by any text editor. It also comes in the form of a Web Service (Website Categorization Lookup) that provides easy-to-read results with custom URLs for quick sharing. The results can also be downloaded as JSON files.

Both solutions receive daily updates of up to 4 million web pages and can handle up to 30 requests per second. You can also choose to download the website’s contacts and categorization database in CSV format if that’s more convenient for you.

Cyren Website URL Category Checker

Cyren is essentially a cybersecurity company. As such, its tool categorizes websites to determine which of them pose a threat to the security of a user’s data. It also provides the corresponding Alexa ranking of the site queried each time you query its URL.

Cyren’s Website URL Category Checker has 64 categories and offers free checks. Regarding data updates, coverage, rate limits or database download, these details are not provided by the provider.


SafeDNS primarily targets software and hardware developers who want to incorporate website categorization into their products.

It categorizes websites using their domains as entries in at least 61 categories, but users can add up to 200 classifications to customize their solutions. The tool receives daily updates and currently has 109 million sites in its database.


Brandfetch’s website categorization API uses the IAB list as a reference. Users can get industry and subcategories of a business website by simply entering its domain in the input field. In fact, the API uses 385 IAB categories. The results are fairly straightforward and come with confidence ratings. As an API, the tool can be integrated into a user’s existing systems and solutions. The results are in JSON format.


URLfilterDB’s ufdbGuard REST API classifies websites into at least 50 categories. It uses URLs as inputs and is updated daily, giving you up to date information. The results are in JSON format, but you also have the option to download the provider’s database if you prefer.

Organizations that want to improve their content personalization, web filtering, and branding efforts can rely on website categorization tools for help. And since there are too many tools out there, we hope we have narrowed down the list of the best website classification tools for you.

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