SEO beginners may come across the word slug. Several articles refer to the post or slug of the page and the importance of optimizing it for better SEO, but what does this mean?
In this post, you will learn what a post slug is and why it is very important for SEO.
What is a slug? A slug is the part of the URL that uniquely identifies a page and is in a format that both users and search engines can easily read.
For example, let’s take all the URLs that belong to this domain (reliablesoft.net). All URLs start with reliablesoft.net and then each and every page or post on the website has a unique slug.
This is the part that comes after the “/”.
Example 1: -> The slug is “diy-seo-tutorial-for-beginners”.
Example 2: -> The slug is “search engine marketing”.
Example 3: -> The slug is “h1-tag”.
A website’s domain and slug make up the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of each and every page.
The URLs of all pages published on the Internet are unique. No published page can have the same URL as another page on the Internet.
Why are slugs important?
Slugs are important for two main reasons:
- It is one of the signals that search engines take into account during the ranking process. They read the slug and try to understand what a page is about.
- Easy-to-read slugs help users identify what content to expect for a page. For example, the slug for this page is “what-is-off-page-seo”, which tells users exactly what kind of information they should expect to find on that page.
Optimizing your slugs will give you an edge when it comes to SEO and usability. In the SEO world, the process of optimizing the slug is the same as creating SEO Friendly URLs.
It should be noted that the word slug came from the WordPress community. You can configure your slug in Permalink Settings.
When you first install WordPress, the URLs may look like this:
This is not SEO friendly or user friendly, so the first thing you need to do is configure WordPress to use the post name as the slug instead of serial numbers.
When you go to SETTINGS / PERMANENT LINKS, you will be presented with several options, as shown below.
Optimize WordPress Permalink Settings
The best approach is to select Post Name so that your post slugs include the post name separated by hyphens.
That was a great first step, but there’s one more step to making sure your slugs are SEO optimized.
When you create a new post (or edit an existing one), WordPress allows you to edit the slug of a page or post.
As you can see in the screenshot below, there is an EDIT button next to each page’s permalink.
WordPress: Edit Slug
By clicking EDIT, you can make changes to the slug and optimize for both users and search engines by following the guidelines below.
Note: Optimizing the slug is not a task just for WordPress users. You should also try to optimize your slugs on other platforms.
How to optimize your Slug?
Now that it’s clear what a slug is and why it’s so important for SEO, let’s see how to best optimize it.
Include the keywords you want to rank for
Help Google and other search engines understand what keywords you want to rank for for the particular page or post, by including those keywords in the page slug.
For example, let’s say you want to rank for the keyword “Health Benefits of Asparagus” and you wrote a post titled “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Asparagus You Should Know About.”
WordPress by default will create this slug: “10-amazing-health-benefits-of-asparagus-you-should-know-about”.
It’s not that bad but it’s long and includes a lot of words and that can confuse Google and users.
What you can do to optimize it is edit the slug and make it “health benefits of asparagus”.
This is shorter, easier for users to understand, and gives search engines a great clue about the content of the page and the keywords you want to rank for.
Consider removing stop keywords
As part of the optimization process, you should consider removing stop words from your slugs. These are common words that do not add any value or help to understand the actual content of a page.
For example, words like “a”, “the”, “on”, “and”, “is”, “of”, “you” and other similar words.
If you look at the example above again, you’ll notice that I’ve removed them to make my slug cleaner and shorter.
Use hyphens to separate words in a slug
This is common practice these days, but as a reminder, you should separate words in a slug using a “-” and not any other character.
keep it short
Shorter slugs are easier to understand and faster to process than longer slugs. These “Health Benefits of Asparagus” are definitely better than these “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Asparagus You Should Know About”.
Another reason to keep your slugs short and without stopping keywords is the fact that search engines during the crawling and indexing process try to match what the user has typed in the search box with page slugs.
If it finds an ‘exact match’, then the particular page has an added advantage over other pages that may use longer slugs.
For example, if the user is searching for “health benefits of asparagus”, my page with an exact match slug has a small advantage over other pages with non-exact match slugs.
Of course, this is not the only factor that is taken into account during the classification process. This is actually of little importance.
there’s a lot most important factors that are used but how is SEO treated improvementyou should test and optimize your slugs.
Finally, don’t forget that a page’s URL shows up in search results, so short, descriptive slugs will encourage more clicks and visits to your website.
Slug in search results
Use only lowercase characters
This is also a common practice, but worth mentioning again. Avoid having uppercase characters in your slug, but use only lowercase letters.
The reason is that web servers like Apache (used by WordPress and other popular CMS), interpret this: to be a different URL than this: or this
A slug is the part of the URL that is unique to each and every page on a website.
When creating a new page or post, you should spend some time optimizing your slug by including the keywords you want to rank for and excluding stopwords. Keep your slugs short and descriptive, use hyphens as word separators, and use only lowercase characters.
Important: If you decide to change the slug of an existing post, this is the same as changing the URL and this means you need to add 301 Redirects (to redirect the old URL to the New URL), otherwise the change may have a negative impact on your SEO.