In this article, you’ll learn what is, the best practices and optimization tips for your slugs. If you want to run a successful and effective SEO campaign for your website or blog, you’ll inevitably have to optimize your website slugs. Despite being such a simple method to optimize your website’s SEO, not many new website owners or administrators know what they are and how to use them.
In WordPress, the slug is the part of your URL that you can edit when writing a new post. Note that this only works with the right permalink settings. Editing your slug in WordPress looks like this:
Things like the date or category name that are sometimes included in URLs, aren’t part of the slug. And if you have added more variables to your URL, the slug is still just that editable part of the URL to the page, like this: There’s an additional value at the end of that URL. In this case, that extra variable is used so slugs can be the same without the URL is the same.
Writing a good slug for your page or post can positively affect your SEO. It allows you to do the following things:
The main SEO benefit of a slug is that you can change the words to make sure that it has the words that you really want to rank for. It’s one of the indicators Google uses to determine what a page is about.
The URL is also one of the things that people see in the search results. Picture a results page: you’ll see many different URLs about a certain topic, right? So you need to make sure your structure is in line with what people expect to see. For example, our main article on WordPress SEO has the URL visualmodo.com/wordpress-seo, which is very on point. People are a lot more likely to click on that, than on visualmodo.com/?P=613458, even though that’s the slug that WordPress creates by default.
What are the things you need to think of when constructing the right slug for your post or page? Let’s go over four steps of optimizing your slug:
Optimizing your slugs to be more search-engine friendly might seem too simple to be of any real use. However, its simplicity is one of the key reasons why it’s such an effective tool to rank your website in SERPs. It’s in a format that’s easy to read for both humans and computers, and it corresponds directly to your webpages and content.
Now that you know what slugs are, how they’re used, and some fundamental best practices, you have all the tools you need to optimize the slugs for your website or blog. Sometimes, winning the SEO race comes down to very small margins, which means every angle is worth exploring.
This is probably a no-brainer, but for the record: your keyphrase should be in the URL. It has to make clear what your page is about immediately. The SEO analysis in the Yoast plugin will show this message if your keyphrase isn’t in the slug:
The slug that’s generated by default may include function words like “a”, “the” and “and” and similar words. In some cases, you might need those in the slug to clarify what your page is about, but usually, you can leave them out. We have written a tad bit more on these words in our WordPress SEO article
Don’t just filter out unnecessary function words, but really all the words that you don’t need. In the case of this post, WordPress automatically created the URL “slug-usage-best-practices-and-optimization-tips” (based upon the permalink settings in WordPress). That’s quite long, so I manually reduced it to “slug”. Make sure the slug still makes sense, though.
There is one thing to keep in mind here. You can use a link structure only once, so you should use it for the right page. For example, the structure for this article is ‘slug’, which is very specific. Now, we’re not going to write another article with “Slug” as a topic. This informative article is the central point for information about this URLs on our website. But if this were just an additional post, and we were planning to write the main article later, we’d have a problem. You’ll understand why: because the slug “slug” would already be taken. So, do consider the page’s level or position on your website.
The URL of your page appears in Google search results. Not always, sometimes it shows breadcrumbs. Don’t include too much information if you intend to reuse the URL for article updates. Be careful adding dates and such to your URL, as these will instantly give away when content was originally published.
For example: in the image, you can see an article the title mentions in 2018, but the URL doesn’t. That makes for easy updating so the article is still valid in 2019 and on! Another reason to keep if concise: a short slug, that comes right after the domain, allows Google to show keywords in its mobile search result pages as well.
A word of warning: it’s best to take these steps before publishing your post. If you think of a better structure after publishing your post, it may be tempting to change it. It’s just so easy, right? But beware: doing this means changing the URL and to avoid 404 errors, you’ll need a redirect.