Aug
25

WordPress Slug | A Nifty Way For Boosting SEO Rankings For Your Blog

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Making Money onlineAs I’ve been doing the rounds of some internet marketing forums recently to generate traffic to my blog I’ve seen some questions about a WordPress Slug.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to explain what it is here for those who don’t know.

Let me assure you that it’s certainly not some fat slimy creature that slithers its way through your blog chomping on anything it fancies on the way like a destructive computer virus!

In fact, a slug is a string of a few well chosen words that helps with the SEO of your blog.

What Is A WordPress Slug & How Does It Work?

According to WordPress Glossary:

A slug is a few words that describe a post or a page. Slugs are usually a URL friendly version of the post title (which has been automatically generated by WordPress), but a slug can be anything you like. Slugs are meant to be used with permalinks as they help describe what the content at the URL is.

When you post a new page or article on a WordPress blog, the site automatically creates a miniature “slug”.

It appears under the blog post title in the editor.

Here’s an example of what a slug looks like inside the dashboard of this blog.

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It contains the post title with the words separated by hyphens (and not spaces). Basically, the slug helps us in identifying different posts published on the site, for a specific topic.

The basic format is this:

http://www.sitename.com/post-category-slug/topic-name-slug

For example, if I create a post titled “Six Common Gardening Errors Made By Novices” and post it under the category  “Simple Tips On Gardening” on my blog titled “Online Gardener”, the format for its slug would be:

http://www.onlinegardener.com/simple-tips-on-gardening/six-common-gardening-errors-made-by-novices

Since the release of WordPress version 3.3 it has included  smarter auto-slugs which automatically gets rid of any other characters  like exclamation marks, apostrophies, brackets etc when the slug is created.

How Can We Use the WordPress Slug For SEO Purposes?

According to Joost de Valk, an  an authority on WordPress & search engine optimization, “The URL should end with the post name and could possibly be prefixed with the category. No other options really make sense.”

This means you’d set your permalink structure either like this:

/%postname%/

or, with the category like this

/%category%/%postname%/

You will find the permalink structure settings under settings in the left hand menu on your WordPress Dashboard.

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Then you can choose the structure.

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For a perfect WordPress SEO URL, your slug should be no longer than 3 to 5 words and these words should include your keyword.

Now you might be wondering how you can make it that short if the title of your post is longer than that.

Before you publish your post you should edit the slug and remove what are known as stop words that are unimportant to Google such as to, for, your, a, an, is, of, on, or, that, the, this, when, with etc.

To do this you simply click on the “edit” button right below the post title field.

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SEO is all about looking for the hottest search phrases (most used by the readers) and incorporating them in your web content, in order to obtain a higher SEO ranking for your site.

So, while creating a post slug, we can incorporate keywords of higher search value in the box and they will get published in the permalink. This will help to entice the searcher to click on the link and in getting a high SEO score.

Have you noticed how Google highlights the queried keywords in a website slug as it displays the search result snippet? Next time you do a search for something take a look at the slugs that display.

WordPress Smart Slug Plugin

Now instead of doing this manually every time an alternative is to use a nifty WordPress plugin called Smart Slug that will automatically remove stop words that are just making your titles longer and keeping them from being optimized.

In researching this article I have come across quite a few posts that recommend the WordPress SEO Slugs plugin but when you go to the download page you will see that there is a notice telling you that this plugin hasn’t been updated in over 2 years so you could get compatibility issues or find it does not work with the recent versions of WordPress.

Now you know that editing a WordPress slug is something that you need to do to make your post and page URLs search engine friendly.  If you have not been doing so now’s the time to start.

What about editing old WordPress Slugs?

The great thing about WordPress is that if you decide you want to go back and edit some of the slugs on your old posts  it will automatically create a redirect for you.

Have you been optimizing your post slugs?  Any tips?

Share them with my readers in the comments.

And, don’t forget to share this post if you think others would find it useful.  Thanks 🙂

 

 

 

 

Categories : Blogging

Comments

  1. Silviu says:

    Hi Sandy,

    This is a kind of small study about slugs. A mini-guide or a tutorial. I like the way the information is organized and all the details. I must say I was not interested in slugs because I had almost no idea what they were. Now, I bookmarked the article to use it whenever I need. Thank you.

    Have a nice day

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Silviu,

      I had no idea that it was best to edit them until recently. Glad you found it useful.

      Have a good week ahead.

      Sandy

  2. Mark McKnight says:

    I never knew they were called slugs. I always keep my ‘slug’ the same as my title. My title never goes over 60 characters which is the recommended length for titles to appear in search engines.

    This means I never have to shorten anything. I just keep the title and the slug the same.

    For example: http://www.markmcknightblog.com/can-your-local-business-grow-without-social-media-marketing/

    I find this to work really well now because I used to change the slug to the keyword, for example: social media marketing

    Since Penguin, my keyword based slugs aren’t performing as well as my full title based slugs. So that’s why I now use a full title based slug of 60 characters or less.

    ~Mark

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Mark,

      That’s very interesting and goes against the advice of the SEO experts. But, at the end of the day we have to see what works best for us. It is a matter of keep testing and tweaking things to see what works best.

      Thanks for that useful insight.

      Sandy

      • Mark McKnight says:

        SEO has changed a lot since that post was written on 23rd May 2011. The information in that post is quite out of date. I would consider myself to be quite knowledgeable in SEO and will be soon writing a few posts about getting the most from off-page SEO in 2013 and beyond.

        I only really know of two SEO experts who study the search engines scientifically and have done so for a good few years and they are Dan Thies and Leslie Rhode of SEO Braintrust.

        If you need some tips on getting traffic through SEO, my best piece of advice in 2013 is to do lots of blog commenting.

        • Sandy says:

          Hello again Mark,

          Actually Joost de Valk wrote an SEO update in May of this year which included a link to the same article you refer to so I assume that he did not see fit to alter the advice.

          I will look forward to reading your posts about SEO in 2013. There’s no doubt that we have to move with the times.

          You are right about blog commenting. It pays to try to be one of the first to comment on popular blogs too. Readers are likely to click on your name if you can make helpful comments such as you have done.

          Sandy

  3. Adrienne says:

    Hi Sandy,

    When I wrote about this early last year I was surprised at how many people weren’t aware of this as well. I know that as we learn we forget how much we really know so this will be very helpful for many. Looks like you’ve already helped Silviu understand this term.

    Luckily for me I learned about permalinks early on so I didn’t have the issue of redirecting old posts. As soon as I learned about slugs though my job because so much easier.

    I don’t think I’d like a plugin telling me what it should be though, I prefer to do that one myself. I just have a routine I follow after I’ve uploaded my post to WordPress so this step is just too common for me now.

    Great explanation though so thank you for that.

    ~Adrienne

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I hadn’t realized that you had written about slugs. Your post didn’t come up when I was doing some research on it. I will be interested to read it so will try to find it.

      I think with older versions of WordPress you had to use a plugin for redirection if you changed a slug after the post was published but the latest versions have it built in so no worries there.

      Sandy

  4. Rajesh Jhamb says:

    Hello Sandy
    I was not aware of slug,i am using SEO by yoast plugin and there is word come i.e slug but i didn’t know about this term.
    But you have cleared my all doubts about this term, Now I can explain this anyone who will ask me for this term.
    Well organized and awesome post.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Rajesh,

      I’m glad that you were able to learn something from my post. I don’t remember ever hearing about slugs when I first set up my blog and it seems that a lot of others didn’t either.

      The Yoast SEO Plugin is definitely a good one to use.

      Sandy

  5. Michel Snook says:

    Hello Sandy,

    Great Post. There are several of my WP sites where I will edit the permalink slug manually removing the unimportant words of that link to shorten it. I like how you provided a short list of unimportant words contained in a slug.

    What I learned from this is the smart slug plugin that can be installed that automatically removes those unimportant words from the permalink which would save time. The only question that I have is does the plugin also shorten the links of those posts that have already been published?

    • Sandy says:

      Hello Michel,

      Good question. The answer is that I am not sure. I have not actually used the plugin myself and I can’t find an answer on a search. The only way to find out would be to install it and see I guess.

      Sandy

  6. Dita says:

    Hi Sandy,

    I am not familiar with the term “slug”. I do not use any plugins but in most cases I optimize the link before I publish my post. I like the link you created and that is something (or similar) I would do.

    It is good to keep your permalinks short because even in searches, if the link is too long it will end up having “…” at the end. (the …represents the missing words from your permalink.

    For that reason I do not even include categories for my original article, so my links would be: mydomain.com/blogpost

    Anyway, enjoyed learning something new

    Take care,

    Dita

    • Sandy says:

      Hey Dita,

      Good to see you here. I am surprised that you did not know of the term slug as you seem to be the go-to-girl for all things to do with blogging, but glad to know that you learned something from my post.

      Don’t you have any plugins at all? I think it’s a wise move not to have too many as they can slow down your blog loading speed but there are some that I would not be without.

      Enjoy the rest of your week.

      Sandy

  7. skin care says:

    I changed the url structure for all of my wordpress sites and noticed a significant improvement in rankings across the board. This is definitely a great way to boost rankings!

    • Sandy says:

      Good to hear it worked for you. How long did it take for you to notice an improvement in rankings?

      Sandy

  8. Rob says:

    Thanks for adding to my marketing lexicon, Sandy. Good to know that it’s more than just a pretty url. I concur with Mark McKnight about trying to keep my slugs the same as my post titles. I think the consistency helps aesthetically. If it helps with SEO, so much the better.

  9. Glenn Shepherd says:

    Hi Sandy,

    This is a really informative and useful post (as always!).

    I’m quite surprised that so many people haven’t heard of slugs. But it just goes to emphasise that we can never assume what people may or may not know.

    The long vs short slug issue is an interesting one. At the moment I’m letting YOAST guide me but it would be interesting to see some stats on the subject to get a better idea of what’s best. It appears that the jury’s out somewhat at the moment.

    Keep up the awesome work, Sandy! 🙂

    Regards,
    Glenn

  10. Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Sandy,

    I have to say that I’m aware of such postname/category settings since I have been blogging on WordPress in 2008/2009 but I don’t think I knew that they called it slug.

    It’s very important to set them as you explained in your post so the permalink/slug is created automatically. This is a great feature of WordPress.

    Thank you for the tip 🙂

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Sylvianne,

      I’m surprised that you didn’t know they were called slugs. Maybe one of those things you don’t take much notice of at the time.

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

      Sandy

  11. Susan Velez says:

    Great post, I used to be totally focused on SEO but not anymore. This is extremely useful for someone who does not know anything about permalinks.

    When I first got started with my very first blog…I had no clue what permalinks were. I remember that it had question marks in the url for the name of the post.

    Needless to say that my rankings were terrible. It did make me some affiliate commissions, I guess I just got lucky.

    These tips will definitely prevent someone from making the same mistakes I made when I first got started. Thanks for sharing them.

  12. Jeevajacobjohn says:

    Hey Sandy,

    I always thought that slugs were words such as a, an, the. Thanks for explaining that 😀

    I switched my permalinks when I migrated to WP (I had learned from my Blogger blog that it is better to have custom permalinks instead of the month/date version).

    As for slugs, I did edit the text each time I published a post. The important part is that we make our URLs self explanatory 😀

    Thank you for the tip on the plugin 🙂

    Jeevan

  13. Gautam says:

    Slug really helps in Boosting SEO and rankings but what do you want to say about Stop words in The Generated Url?

  14. jazz kohli says:

    Hiee Sandy,

    This is a really informative and useful post..!! It’s very important to set them as you explained in your post so the permalink/slug is created automatically. This is a great feature of WordPress.

  15. Abhay says:

    I was really searching about WordPress slugs as i was getting notifications regarding it in my Yoast Page analysis.Thanks for the post am still reading and reading it again.

  16. Singh says:

    Hi Sandy,
    Its really a new information that the slugs can be used so powerfully to Boost the SEO through category, I never considered Slug so important, and thanks for the Permalink structure but one should not change the Permalink structure if the website is well established.
    Regards Singh

  17. Jennifer says:

    Hi Sandy,

    It’s interesting what you said some time ago that if you change the slug, WordPress will automatically create a redirect for you. I was just at a WordPress info seminar given by a local WordPress expert and he said to never change the slug on a post after its been up for a week or ten days, because if you do so you will lose all the ‘SEO juice’ you have gained on the post. But if WordPress does a ‘redirect’ it seems to me that would not apply.

  18. Sarah Wentworth says:

    It is important to make your slug fit right. Yoast Seo plugin for wordpress is worth checking out for this.

    although meta tags aren’t important anymore.

  19. Sonam Gupta says:

    Thanks so much for sharing information about slug, I have wordpress blog and my permalink style will be default, I think this is the cause by which my website didn’t getting traffic.. I will update my permalink style very soon.. thanks for this great share with us..

    Regards
    Sonam Gupta

  20. Raphael Udonna says:

    Hello Sandy,

    Many thanks to Yoast SEO, i know what slugs are 🙂

    Many thanks to Sandy, she did a great work on further explaining slugs 🙂

    For my blog, i have always used my target keywords as the slug e.g: http://informate.com.ng/npower-recruitment-test-schedule/ and it works great for me.

    Yes, wordpress does redirect automatically when you change the slug of an old post, i’ve done this severally and the posts were automatically redirected 🙂

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