If you are an SEO marketer, you might have already heard the terms post or page slugs. But what is it, how does it help your website, and why is it crucial for your digital marketing efforts? Here is everything you need to know about WordPress slug.
What is WordPress Slugs?
Beginning with the basics, a page or post slug is a part of the URL that appears after the domain name that helps the search engines identify a specific page; each slug is unique. Slugs are also often in an easy to read and understand format by both users and Google.
In an URL, any part that follows the website domain name and ‘/’ is a slug, whether you’re hosting your website on WordPress or Google Cloud. The website domain followed by the slug makes up a website page slug.
What is the Use of Slugs, and Why are Slugs Important for SEO?
Many SEO professionals focus on keyword optimisation, backlinking, and other marketing tactics to improve their website rankings. However, they often overlook page and post slug, which are essential for a good ranking on search engines. Here are the two reasons why WordPress slug (and other CRM platforms) are vital for SEO and why you need to induce them into your digital marketing strategies.
Improve Search Engine Ranking
Search engines have evolved in the past few years, and they no longer look for just the keywords you place in your website’s content. They look for a lot more things like keyword density, backlinks, headings, and WordPress slugs. The search engines consider the slug as one of the signals that inform them what the post is about.
If your website’s slugs are well-formatted, they can tremendously improve your search engine results page (SERP) ratings. This is because slugs in WordPress are usually the first things the crawlers look at when indexing your site; if your slug is not optimised with the right keywords (discussed later in the article), the crawlers may ignore your posts and pages entirely.
Enhance User Experience
Google bots are not the only ones who look at the post or page slugs; readers do so too. When they look at your website’s URL, they should be able to grasp what the webpage is about within a second. The slug works similar to a headline that is well written. Plus, a well-optimised, short slug helps your users copy-paste and share your link to their connections and social media platforms with ease.
These are the two reasons why you need to start optimising your permalink setting for your site. With an efficient and effective slug optimisation process, you can push your website to rank better and make it easier for your users to use your site.
How Do I Change a Slug in WordPress?
When you first install WordPress, your website’s URL will be generated automatically and look something like this: “http://www.example.com/?p=123.” This type of link is neither SEO friendly nor user friendly, which is why you need to change it immediately if you want your website to rank.
If you’re wondering, “how do I find the URL of a slug in WordPress,” the answer is you’ll find it under the Permalink Setting on your WordPress admin dashboard.
Now, changing the slug is quite an easy process, all you need to do is find WordPress admin dashboard and click edit the slug button, but it’s a bit different depending on what the slug’s webpage is about. Following are a few common slugs you might want to start with.
Fortunately, the process to change the page slug is also similar to that for every post page. You can find the slug of the page right below the title; click the edit button and change it. Keep in mind, WordPress automatically generates the title as the slug, which you have to change every time you add new post page.
In WordPress, the names of the categories are added as the slug automatically. Usually, the default slug works, but you might still want to customise it if it is not short or specific. For the best results, make sure the category slugs contain the least number of clear and specific words. To change the category slug on your WordPress website, go to the Permalink Settings and type the needed category slug into the Category base field after clicking on the edit button.
In WordPress, the tags also work just the same as category slugs. Often, you don’t really need to change the tag slugs. However, if you have a specific reason to change the tag slug, you should change it depending on your SEO tagging strategy.
By default, WordPress uses the author’s username as the author slug, like “https://www.example.com/author/username.” Right now, there’s no way to change your author slug in WordPress’s Permalink settings. If you want to change the slug, you’ll need to add a new user profile with a fresh username. However, you can still use a plug-in like edit author slug, which is free and allows you to change both the slug and the permalink structure.
How Can We Optimise Slugs for SEO?
You’d be surprised to know that, just like keywords, you also need to optimise the URL slugs’ structure for search engine optimization. As mentioned earlier, well-crafted slugs help Google to understand what the webpage is about. Here are some of the SEO slug best practices that you should follow to improve your SERP ratings.
Include Keywords You Want to Rank For
Using keywords in your slugs help search engines understand what keywords you want to rank for the particular posts and pages. So, you should use one of the keywords you’re targeting for the post slug as well to increase your chances of ranking higher organically on Google.
For example, the title of your post whose target keyword is ‘apple benefits’ and you create a WordPress post with the title, “8 reasons why you should eat apples every morning.”
By default, WordPress automatically generates the slug for all posts and pages: “8-reasons-why-you-should-eat-apples-every-morning.”
The problem with the default slug is that it is long and includes many words, which might confuse the search engine algorithms. Similar slugs may even contain more than one keyword, one of which may not be your target keyword.
Instead, you can optimise it and make it, “apple-benefits.” This optimised slug will help the search engine recognise what keyword you’re targeting while making it easier for the readers to understand what the post is about just with the URL within a glance.
Consider Removing Stop Keywords or Function Words
The next step in the keyword optimisation process is to remove the stop keywords and make the structure concise and short. What are stop keywords? They are words like a, the, on, is, of, etc. that usually come in between your target keyword.
They are quite common but don’t add any value to your URL structure, and they make it longer and difficult to read. So, you should consider removing all stop keywords from the slug to make your link crisp and precise. If you do this right, you won’t have to use URL shortening platforms, too, which is an added benefit.
Use Dashes to Separate Words in a Slug
When building the structure of your slug, you should never make the mistake of not using dashes to separate the words. Otherwise, the search engines may not be able to recognise your target keyword, which may attack your ranking. And while you’re separating the words in your slug, you should only use dashes or hyphens. This is the standard industry practice, and using anything else may make your slugs hard to read.
Keep the Slug Short
One of the best ways of making your slugs easier to understand for both the search engines and the users is to make them short. This also makes the slug faster to process for search engines and browsers.
That’s not it, the actual reason you should shorten your slugs is that the search engines, especially Google, use crawlers and spiders to match what the users are searching for with the page slugs. If your keyword optimised slug has the exact match as the search query, it will have the edge over other search results. This means that using short, crisp slugs have a tremendous benefit for your SERP ratings.
Use Only Lowercase Characters
Another common industry practice is to only use lowercase letters in the slugs for your website. This gives your WordPress slugs a consistency, regardless of whether the URL belongs to the page, post, or search. More importantly, this is a mechanism to avoid creating duplicate links with lowercase and uppercase letters.
Avoid Changing Slugs in the Future
Once you create a page’s content with a well-optimised sub, we recommend you do not change it in the future unless necessary. If you make changes to the slug, it can lead to 404 errors if the old URL redirection to the new slug is not right.
Avoid Using Dates
Not that dates affect your ranking in any way, but they can give an impression that your WordPress post or webpage content is old, even if you keep updating it when required. Avoiding to use dates, keeps your site looking fresh and updated.
Finding the right slugs for your WordPress site can be tricky, but you can use slug generators to generate the right slugs for your website. There are many free slug generators on the internet that you can use. Keep in mind that slug generators are not always reliable as they can sometimes suggest slugs that are not SEO friendly.
As mentioned before, make sure your slugs are unique for each and every post name on the WordPress site. From the most irrelevant content page to the landing and sales pages, your website needs unique slugs.
Having just that is never enough. Your slugs need to be short, crisp, easier to understand for search engines and users and have the right focus keywords and no function words. You need to structure your slugs in the right way.
If you do slug optimisation the right way, it can significantly improve your website’s SERP ratings within a few weeks while helping your users easily understand your website. Slug optimisation deserves a lot more attention than it generally receives.
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