You must be thinking, “aren’t they those slimy creatures that give me the jitters? Ugh!”
Well! Slugs are that too.
But the slugs we will talk about here are the ones you’ll be using on a regular basis in your SEO.
Before moving on to slugs in SEO, you should first understand what a URL is.
A URL or Uniform Resource Locator is the address of a web page. It points to the location of the content you want. Every page on the internet has a URL, as does this page and any other page you browse to.
A typical URL looks something like www.example.com.
A URL is among the top 50 ranking factors for Google. Having a good, concise URL means your chances of ranking high in Google are more. And that’s exactly why slugs are important in URLs.
What is a slug in SEO?
Now, most URLs consist of a section called ‘slug’ that describes what the page you’re at is all about.
A slug is a unique identifier that is part of your page URL. It indicates what the page or article is about. The right slug will give users an idea of what the page actually consists of. Slugs usually appear after the last ‘/’ in the URL.
For example, the URLs of this domain begin with http://digivijay.in. After the ‘.in’ you have a ‘/’ and whatever comes after that is a slug. For this page, the slug is what-is-slug-in-seo.
It is important to note that dates and times in the URL are not part of the slug.
Many websites add default slugs to the URL when you create a post. While it’s convenient for you, it isn’t helpful for the user. These default slugs usually have no structure to them and are often just a sequence of numbers and letters.
It is always recommended to customize your slugs based on the content you’ve written.
Source: Neil Patel
The image above clearly shows how a well-constructed slug should look like.
What is the use of slug in SEO?
A good slug can have a positive effect on your SEO. It allows you to,
- Add keywords in the URL: You can modify the slug to fit in the keywords you want to rank for. This makes it easy for search engines to index your page and rank it properly. Search engines mimic the way users respond to search results. So, if you want your pages to show up for user queries, then adding the keyword in the slug is one way to ensure it happens.
- Create attractive URLs: Your URL is one of the main things users will see on SERPs. If your URL offers a clear picture of what your page is about, then users will obviously choose your page to visit rather than anyone else’s.
- Tell users about your page: One of the easiest ways to show users your content before they even open the page is to put what it’s about in the slug. This way, you attract the right kind of users who are actually interested in what you have to say.
How to optimize URL slugs?
It often happens that the content you’ve written is awesome but the link that points to your content makes no sense. For example, you’ve written an article on “Training Koalas in Space” but the URL reads www.example.com/space-training or www.example.com/0bwanr2d2c3p0, which is unintelligible. Because of this, users will get confused and deem your website untrustworthy. Even long descriptions can discourage people from clicking through to your content.
Therefore, it is absolutely important to optimize your slugs so that users are attracted to your content.
Now, how would you do that?
- Include your keyword or key phrase in the slug: Add relevant keywords that you want to rank for in the particular post’s slug. For instance, if you want to rank for “how to train koala bears”, consider using “training-koala-bears”.
- Keep the slug short and descriptive: A short URL (usually between 50–60 characters) has a better chance of ranking within the top 10 than a long one. In fact, any URL longer than 80 characters can have a negative impact on your website’s ranking. Even the number of words you should use in the URL should not be more than five.
Source: Neil Patel
- Filter out all ‘function words’: Function words are used mainly for grammatical purposes rather than adding meaning to a sentence. Words such as ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’, ‘yes’, ‘on’, ‘from’, etc. are all function words and can easily be omitted in your slug.
As you can see, a slug in SEO is more than a descriptor. It is one of the most essential factors determining the ranking of your website in search engines.
Now that you know what a slug is, try using it in your posts and see the world of difference it makes to your website.