Slugs

Slugs in your garden are very small but very unwelcome guests. Most gardeners will go to great lengths to get rid of them. Slugs in your website, alternatively, while also fairly small, are very helpful and have significant positive SEO purposes.

A “slug” in website design is the part of a site’s URL that specifies which page needs to be laded. Consider the URL http://www.domainame.com/about. The slug is the word ‘about’ in that case. It makes sure that the site loads the about page and not the contact page. One of the biggest reasons for using a slug (especially in WordPress, which creates them automatically based on page title), is that you can avoid having a URL such as www.domainname.com/q=285923. Imagine running a radio ad and telling listeners to go to “www.domainname.com/q=285923”. I don’t think you’d have a very good return on that radio ad. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when creating the slug for each page. While WordPress will create them automatically for most pages, you’ll very likely want to go through and fine-tune those slugs.

A big purpose of a slug is to help search engines determine what a particular page is about. Obviously a slug of something like ‘q=285923’ doesn’t really point human users or search engines toward the topic of the page, so updating the slug to reference what that page is about can help with the page’s search ranking. When updating the slug, be sure to eliminate all unnecessary words such as ‘a,’ ‘the,’ ‘and,’ and similar filler words. Search engines aren’t going to use words like that in their search rankings, so they’ll do absolutely no good here. Removing just those filler words is a good start, but keep going. Remove as many unnecessary words as possible and keep the slug as short and simple as possible. Your page name might but Contact Us or About Us, but there’s no need to have ‘us’ in the slug, just use “contact” or “about”.

If your slug actually does need to be two words, be sure to separate them with a hyphen (-). When search engines see a hyphen, they know that it’s really two separate words. That doesn’t mean you should get carried away and have a slug such as “our-online-portfolio.” The standard rules of KISS apply: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Instead of using a lengthy (and tough to remember) slug, simply use ‘portfolio’. When in doubt, make your slugs simpler and shorter.

Slugs might be a pain in your garden, and the truthfully, can be a bit of a pain to get set on your website as well. But if you take the time to figure out exactly what each page needs for a short, concise, and keyword-driven slug, you’ll be doing yourself countless favors when it comes to SEO ranking.