“The “slugs” are the URL-friendly version of the name. It is usually all lowercase and contains only letters, numbers, and hyphens”, says WordPress itself. But for the sake of more detailed information for everyone, I suggest we go a little deeper to understand them, their importance and best practices.
So to start from the very beginning, what is a slug in WordPress again? Exactly, it’s the few words you see at the end of the URL address of the page, blog post, tag, or category. Meaning, slugs, in general, are a few words describing the page in the URL section. More often than not they are similar to the title of your page or blog, if not the same. If you do not choose the slug you want to see in the permalink of the page yourself, WordPress will automatically select the title as the slug.
What are slugs good for?
The importance of well-formed slugs lies in its use for SEO purposes.
First of all, good a slug is basically a good mini representation about your page or post. A good slug will also increase your traffic from organic search if it’s well chosen. And by saying well chosen, I mean having a good combination of necessary keywords without spamming. Keep is short, but straight to the Google point with the needed keys and avoiding mistakes. Users like to think they have found exactly what they were looking for if they see the permalink of the page being “just the right one”. So unless you want to lose the chance, put some time in slugs.
And here is where we come in need for best practices and advice to use those same slugs.
The simpler, the better
As already mentioned in the beginning, slugs are literally describing your entire page or post in just a few words. Keep in minds, just a few. This is to make sure you do not overburden the user with a long permalink, the biggest part of which is taken up by the slug. It’s not good, for obvious reasons. Too long of a slug is not as useful for search engines and for optimizing your page for them. Secondly, you should use keywords in your slug, you just don’t have to overuse them. So, let’s call this avoiding a mess in the URL of the page since you only have a few words and you absolutely need to use them right.
Remember the keywords
Everyone wants higher rankings on Google and accordingly more organic traffic, which literally has everything to do with choosing the right keywords as your slug. Remember that people see your slug as a short guide of what is about to be read on the page or the post itself. For the sole reason of being as relevant as you can, you should, therefore, use slugs that are just twice as good in the Google world and other search engines.
Avoid changing your slugs
You could if you desperately needed to. But it’s not that good of an idea. For example, say you decided to change your slug in the permalink, which is very easy since WordPress lets you do it right on spot, however, there will be consequences.
If you edit the slug after the post has been published, you will now have a broken link for the hyperlinks given to that page prior to changing the slug. As in, the old URL that was hyperlinked anywhere else will now redirect users to a non-existing address, which let’s be honest, could result in a lot of lost traffic.
So it’s better safe than sorry. However, as mentioned above, you could still change it if it’s unavoidable. Just make sure to use the smart ways to accomplish it.
Put some time and thought in your slugs to not repeat
This is very important since a lot of us tend to forget all of the post titles/slugs they have set over time, which results in a duplicate. This in its turn shows up in the form of a weird “2” at the end of the link, which you haven’t put there yourself. That means that your second blog about “Life hacks” will now have a slug of “/life-hacks-2”.
Let’s see what we have here now. Slugs are the last portion of a page’s URL, which consists of a few words that basically describe the page content. They can be the exact post title name if you don’t choose a slug yourself and let WordPress handle it automatically. And, last but not least, slugs are important. They are good for SEO if they are made correctly and you can only benefit from them.