When it comes to SEO, there are various factors that can determine your website ranking and performance. One major part of SEO that is often overlooked in content optimization is the URL slug. In this comprehensive guide, let’s discuss what an SEO slug is, the importance of URL slugs, and how you can optimize slugs on your WordPress website.
What is an SEO slug?
A slug in SEO, or simply a slug, is the part of the URL that describes the content of a particular page on your website. It’s the portion of the URL that follows the domain name. For instance, in the URL – https://seoglaze.com/seo-slug-guide, the “seo-slug-guide” is the slug. It gives a concise overview of the page content, helping search engines and web users easily understand your pages’ content.
How is a URL slug important for SEO?
Slugs play a crucial role in your website search engine optimization for several reasons, including:
Improved SEO Rankings
Google uses various factors like the URL structure and content when indexing your web pages in search results. A keyword-rich, concise, and well-optimized slug aids search engines to understand with ease the content of your page. This improves your odds of ranking higher on the search engine results page and increasing organic visitors.
For instance, if you have a blog about “healthy supplements for weight loss,” your URL slug can be “/healthy-supplements-weight-loss.” The slug tells the search engines what information is on the page and can rank it higher for visitors searching for that specific content.
Enhances user trust and engagement
A well-optimized slug helps users identify the information about the content of a particular page. Users are likelier to trust and engage with pages whose URLs match the information they seek. This can translate to more visitors and search engine rankings.
A good slug optimized for SEO can increase click-on rates and conversions when you or your users share pages on other platforms or social media. It can also encourage more sharing of your pages, increasing your traffic.
Google's guidelines for an excellent permalink
Like SEO slugs, proper permalinks are crucial for your website’s SEO and overall user experience. Below are key Google recommendations for creating favorable search engine permalinks:
Keep It Simple
Simple URLs allows search engine and users to understand your pages easily. Thus, you should use short and simple words to describe the content of your pages. Avoid unnecessary words, special characters, or complex words that can make your permalink look vague.
Include relevant keywords naturally
It’s vital to incorporate your primary keywords in your permalinks. This gives the search engines and users an idea of what your page is about. Ensure the key phrases appear natural and shouldn’t be stuffed. Using vague or unrelated words in the URL can confuse search engines and readers, leading to lower rankings and conversions.
Avoid stop words
Your permalinks should be simple and short. Google recommends focusing on your target keywords and excluding unnecessary words like ‘the’, ‘of’, ‘and’, and ‘in’. These words aren’t significant; removing them makes your permalink concise, simple, and cleaner.
Use hyphens to separate words
Search engines recognize hyphens as word separators and are preferred over spaces or underscores (_). For instance, if you have a blog about the best SEO practices”, a good permalink would be “best-seo-practices” and not “best-seopractices” or “best_seo_practices”.
Use lowercase letters
Since most search engines treat URLs as case-insensitive, you should consider using lowercase letters in your links. This ensures uniformity and consistency.
Use unique permalinks
It’s essential to have a unique link for all the pages on your website. Duplicate links can confuse search engines and users, potentially affecting your ranking.
URL Slug Best Practices
Well-optimized URL slugs can significantly impact your website’s rankings and overall performance. Below are vital URL slug best practices to keep in mind:
Make them simple and reader-friendly
Google recommends a simple and concise URL structure. This means avoiding unnecessary words, vague words, special characters, and unrelated keywords, which can make your URL challenging to understand for search engines and users.
A slug needs to be easy to read and understand. Still, it should be able to communicate what information is on the page right away. This means keeping it short, simple, and relevant. This also offers the added benefit of being easily remembered by visitors should they want to return to your website.
Include relevant keywords
Since your slug describes what information is available on your page, it should contain relevant key phrases that match the content of your page accurately. For instance, https://seoglaze.com/best-seo-practices/ is better than https://seoglaze.com?pageId=2b5ebr96f410g1.
Be sure to avoid irrelevant keywords, as they can be misleading to the search engines and users, resulting in poor indexing and user experience. For instance, something like https://seoglaze.com/marketing-tips-urls-best-practices isn’t clear what the page is about and can result in fewer clicks and potentially hurt your SEO.
Avoid keyword stuffing
While having relevant keywords in your slug is beneficial for SEO, keyword stuffing isn’t. For instance, having a keyword-stuffed slug like “htpps://blog.seoglaze.com/marketing/seo-slug-optimize-best-practices” can hurt your SEO and user experience on your site. To avoid keyword stuffing, focus on the primary keyword and incorporate it naturally in your URL.
Remove dates and numbers
Unless numbers or dates have particular relevance, it’s generally best to exclude them from slugs. For instance, they can make it difficult to reuse a page later if you update the content later. For example, consider a slug like /10-best-seo-tips-2016/. This URL limits the page’s content to those specific parameters.
This might cause a problem in the future if you choose to add more tips and make the content more timely, like 15 best SEO tips for 2023. In such a case, you may have to leave the content as it is or create a new post and then redirect the older page to a newer page. Generally, it’s best to avoid numbers and dates all along.
Stick to lowercase letters
Using lowercase letters in URL slugs is a good practice to ensure consistency and avoid case-sensitive URL issues like 404 errors. It also minimizes the risk of others creating incorrect links to your pages, and it’s easy for visitors to adjust URLs in their search address bars correctly.
Use unique slugs for each page
Search engines can understand identical or similar slugs as duplicate content, resulting in poor ranking and visibility. Thus, it’s highly essential to have unique URL slugs for all the pages on your website. If you have duplicate content on your website, choose the primary page you want to rank higher for and redirect the other pages to it.
Avoid dynamic URLs
Dynamic URLs contain parameters that are automatically generated when a page is loaded and can change with the user. This can cause crawling issues and poor SEO performance. A static URL ensures consistency whenever the page is loaded and avoids the risk of duplicate content.
Use a standardized naming process
Develop a standard process for naming your URLs on all your pages. This not only simplifies your work but can also guarantee consistency in your website and make navigation easier for your visitors.
How to optimize your slug in WordPress?
Incorporating Yoast Seo slugs in your WordPress website can put you one step further to increase your visibility and indexing on search engines. Vital slug optimization steps for optimizing your slug in WordPress include:
Include your focus keyword
When creating your page content, you must identify the keywords or phrases you want to rank for. Including these keywords in your page slug helps Google and other search engines grasp what your page is about and index it for particular Google search results.
For example, if you want to rank for “Clove Health benefits“, you can have a blog titled “10 Amazing Benefits of Clove You Should Know“. WordPress will create a default slug, which can be something like “10-amazing-health-benefits-of-clove-you-should-know“.
The right slug for your page should be “clove-health-benefits“. That’s simple and easier to understand for search engines and users and can help you rank better for your focus keywords.
Remove unnecessary filler words
Optimizing your website slug for SEO also means removing unnecessary words that don’t help in understanding the content of your page. This can include ‘a’, ‘on’, ‘of’, and ‘the’. For a blog page titled “10 health benefits of cloves“, you can edit the slug to “cloves – health-benefits“.
Match slugs with headlines
Your slug should describe the content on your page. For articles or blog posts, you’ll want to match your slugs with the page’s titles. It doesn’t need to be exact; focus on the primary key phrases. For instance, a blog post titled “10 benefits of Canonical Tags” should have a slug like “canonical-tags-benefits“.
Google recommends separating words in your permalinks using hyphens (-) to enhance readability. You shouldn’t use underscores, spaces, or special characters to separate URL slugs. For instance, for a blog post about “best SEO practices“, a good SEO slug structure can be “best-seo-practices“.
Update Old Slugs
Do you have older pages that don’t follow the best practices for SEO slugs? You can update your slugs to clarify your page’s content better. However, keep in mind that slugs shouldn’t be updated constantly as they can lead to 404-page errors and hurt your search engine rankings. Ensure to redirect the old URL to the new slug URL to prevent 404 errors and lost traffic. Overall, it’s best to optimize your URL slugs effectively so you won’t need to change them later on.
Use lowercase case letters and avoid dates and numbers
This is a great URL practice worth mentioning again. The use of lowercase letters keeps your slug as easy and short as possible. This means skipping anything that can add ambiguity to your URL, like capital letters, numbers, special characters, and dates. These factors can make your page harder to understand and increase the risk of duplicate content or 404-page errors.
Properly Optimized Slug URL Examples
Below are several examples of properly optimized slugs:
Blog post: Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2023
Bad slug: /blog-post-digital-marketing-trends-2023
Optimized Slug: – /digital-marketing-trends
Product page for an SEO Tool
Bad slug: /product/SEO-tools
Optimized Slug: /seo-tools
Blog post: Optimal Travel Guide to Maldives
Bad slug: /optimal-travel-guide-to-Maldives
Optimized Slug: /-travel-guide-maldives
1. What does slug mean in WordPress?
In WordPress, a slug is the portion of a URL that describes the content of a specific page or post on a website. It’s located at the end of a URL and helps readers and search engines understand the content of a page. You can use the Yoast Seo plugin to optimize your website in WordPress.
2. What is the difference between a URL and a URL slug?
As the name suggests, a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the entire web address that specifies a web page’s location. On the other hand, a URL slug is a part of the URL that follows the domain name. It serves as a descriptive identifier for the page content.
3. What Happens When You Change the Slug?
Changing or modifying a URL slug can make the old page inaccessible or result in 404 errors. To prevent this, ensure you create proper 301 redirects from the old URL to the new one. The search engines and users interacting with the old URL will be redirected to the new one automatically.
4. Are permalink and slug the same?
While closely related, they don’t mean the same thing. The difference between a slug and a permalink is that a permalink is a complete URL of a specific post or page on a website, including the slug. On the other hand, a slug is the part of the permalink that describes the content of a page or post.
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