Today we are going to be talking about URL slugs and their role in your website’s SEO.
First of all, what even is a “slug”?
Well, we know that a URL is your site’s address. For example, https://digitalbyserenity.com. A slug is an added descriptor following a hashtag to your site’s main URL. It acts as a page identifier or, in the case of posts, a subject indicator. For example, in the case of https://digitalbyserenity.com/blog/skyscraping-technique, the “slug” would be “skyscraping technique.”
Why is It Called a “Slug”?
The use of the word “slug” itself likely comes from the realms of film and journalism. In the latter, the “slugline” is the first line or lines of a news article-the who, what, when, where, why and how. In a screenplay, the slug line sets the scene. In both cases, the slugline gives you a snapshot of what is to come. Just like a URL slug.
We can’t say exactly why the word “slug” was chosen to describe a scene heading or the first few sentences of a news article. If we had to guess, it would be the notoriously arduous editing process associated with both industries (especially film).
Then again, to “slug” something down is to drink it very fast. So that works, too.
So, Are URL Slugs Important for SEO?
Anyway, why are slugs important? Or rather, ARE they important for SEO? The short answer is yes, the long answer is yes and no. Google has stated in the past that the words in a URL, including the slug, are a ranking factor. Even though it carries a lot less weight than other SEO tactics, it is still important for the user experience-which we all know IS a critical factor in SEO.
Think about it: are you, as a user, more likely to click a URL with the slug /blog/2590, or blog/easy-crockpot-chili? It is an easy thing to do that helps users understand that they are where they need to be to find the information they are looking for.
How Do You Change Your Slug in WordPress?
Most cms platforms easily allow you to change the slug in your URL. In WordPress, you can select a pre-format by going to the settings page and clicking “Permalinks.” There, you will see several formats to choose from, or you can make your own in the “custom” structure box. The “post name” format is the easiest one for a customizable slug. It adopts the form: “Https://yourdomain.com/sample-post. When you are editing your post, you will be able to change the slug from “sample-post” in the sidebar under URL.
If you have Yoast installed, you can also change your slug in the specified box.
Tips for a good URL slug:
- It should be relevant: the slug should describe what the page or post is about
- It should be brief: keep it under five words, if you can. Any longer, and it will be cut off in the google search results. And what’s the point of that?
- Make sure it is evergreen: don’t include time sensitive information in the slug, like “top-vacation-destinations-2023.” Just say “top-vacationn-destinations.”
- Use lower case letters, even for proper nouns.
- Separate the words with a hyphen for easy reading. Avoid using any other separators, like asterisks or underscores, that can be misread by search engines.
- Don’t use special characters or emojis
- Use your keywords as the slug, if appropriate. Most users don’t even see the slug, since it doesn’t show up on mobile. So make it user friendly for the ones that do see it on desktop.
Again, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t change your slug. But it is one more piece in a good SEO puzzle, and it is so easy to do, it doesn’t really make sense to skip it on purpose. One more place for keywords, one more place to enhance the user experience, one more way to set your site apart.