Implementing good SEO on your website’s pages means ensuring that every part of each individual web page is correctly optimised.
One such part that should be set up correctly is the URL, structuring it in a way that is readable to Google’s crawlers.
What is a Slug in SEO?
Before we look at how to optimise them, let’s first define the SEO definition of “slug”.
Put simply, the slug is the unique part of the URL on a specific page of your website.
Your website is made up of several pages, each of which has a unique URL.
For new websites (or even not-so-new ones) these URLs may not be structured in a way that is easily readable to Google crawlers and users as well.
Let’s look at this very page as an example. This blog post’s URL is https://www.iformat.com.au/seo-slugs; the slug, specifically, is this part: /seo-slugs
Before this was optimised, the automatic URL that WordPress produced was https://www.iformat.com.au/how-to-optimise-seo-urls-or-slugs. This is automatically generated once we input the blog’s Heading 1 into the backend of the website when publishing a blog.
This automatic URL slug is fine: it still describes the content and the focus of the page, however, it can be improved. Firstly, it is a little long, and secondly, we want to ensure it is optimised as well as possible.
A good option would be to change it to: /how-to-optimise-seo-slugs, but an even better switch would be to just make it /seo-slugs, especially if you don’t foresee writing anything else about SEO slugs in the future.
Why you need to optimise your Slug
There are several reasons why you should be optimising your slug, and each benefits either the user, Google’s crawlers, or both!
- When easily readable, your slug makes sense to both Google crawlers and web users. For example, yourwebsite.com.au/pg=1 isn’t exactly pretty, nor does it explain what can be found on the page, whereas even yourwebsite.com.au/seo-basics/slug instead of the former gives you a pretty good idea of what that page will be about.
- Clear, optimised slugs are simply more appealing to look at. This may sound like surface stuff, but again, not only is it better to see, it works on a functional level to instantly convey what a page is about, and this can improve the user experience
- When done right, an SEO-friendly slug will help your website and pages rank for target keywords
How to optimise your slug
When optimising your SEO slug, there are several factors to consider:
All good SEO practices revolve around being aware of each page’s target or focus keywords and making sure that each element in the page is in congruence with the focus keyword/s.
Just like you’d optimise the meta data of your page, ensure your slug aligns with the page’s overall purpose by including focus keywords in it.
2. Short but concise slugs
Let’s once again refer to our previous example of the automatically generated URL for this post: https://www.iformat.com.au/how-to-optimise-seo-urls-or-slugs.
The best option here is to shorten it and ensure it retains the focus keyword. This results in our final URL of https://www.iformat.com.au/seo-slugs which includes the slug “/seo-slugs“.
With shorter slugs, you’re also more likely to be a closer match to other, relevant user searches. For example, if you run “seo slug” in SEMRush’s Keyword Magic tool, you’ll find that it is close to being an exact match keyword with “slug seo,” which is the keyword with the highest search volume for that specific topic.
3. Remove connective words
This tip aligns with the notion that while your slug should include keywords, it should also be short and concise.
It is best to remove words that are simply there to connect keywords to one another.
This is usually easily done, especially if the slug still makes sense and gives a clear idea of the subject or topic.
Words such as “a”, “to”, “is”, “from”, “of” or “and” can be removed when it comes to optimising your slug. Simply replace these connective words with dashes between keywords.
How to optimise your slug on WordPress: Step by step
Now that you know what an SEO slug is, why it needs to be optimised, and how to optimise an SEO slug, it’s time to improve your pages.
On WordPress, the process is fairly simple:
1. On WordPress the default structure for URLs may look like this: http://www.example.com/?p=123
As you have learned, slugs structured like this are not SEO or user friendly. Change your default configuration for WordPress to use the post name as the slug instead of serial numbers so it is much easier to further optimise the slug. With the default slug as the post title, in most cases you will only need to trim it down to the keyword focus and remove connective words.
2. To edit the slug into the new optimised version, go to SETTINGS / PERMALINKS
3. On WordPress, you can edit an existing slug (or change a new post’s slug from the generated default slug) right underneath the title slot. And that’s it. You’ve optimised your slug!
4. As a necessary final few steps, when you change the slug of an existing post, you have to take into consideration the fact that you have changed the URL, which means that you must create a 301 Redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This is a vital step that cannot be missed!
5. Finally, it is also important to resubmit your sitemap in Google Search Console so that Google may review your changes and make a note of the new URL.
Steps 4 and 5 above are important to ensure you do not lose or risk dropped rankings following a URL change.
Optimising your SEO slugs is a fairly simple process. But if you’re ready to take your business to the next level in the vast digital landscape, we invite you to speak to iformat today about our SEO strategies.
We offer a full suite of SEO solutions, including DIY SEO, SEO for eCommerce websites, on- and off-page SEO strategies, as well as Pay Per Click advertising.