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Nebojsa Rakic
September 16, 2018

What is an SEO Slug | How To Optimize an SEO Slug

In order to make your business popular and a well recognizable brand on the Internet, you have probably started working on SEO of your website. While doing your research and finding many interesting things that affect your website's SEO scores, you have probably seen a term "SEO slug". What is an SEO slug and why is it so important for your website? In this guide we will give you all of the necessary information about SEO slugs, and a complete and detailed answer to the question that is crucial to your further website's development - What is an SEO slug and how to optimize it.

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The most basic answer that we can provide to this questions is that a SEO slug is a specific part of a URL on any of your web pages. SEO slugs are used to identify web pages in a form that is easy to read for your users. To put it simply, the nice and clean part of the URL on any of your web pages, that explains the content of that particular page, is a SEO slug.

To make things a little bit clearer, here's an examples of what is an SEO slug and how it really looks on our website. Keep in mind that only the highlighted part of the URL is SEO slug:

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As you can clearly see in this picture, the "search-engine-optimization-for-dummies" part of URL is a SEO slug. That wasn't too hard to explain, but what is the real significance of SEO slugs?

Significance of a SEO slug

Why are these SEO slugs so important for the optimization of your business? In order to answer this questions, we need to see how SEO slugs help your visitors find your website. When a user searches for a specific set of keywords, the SEO slugs will be shown in the search engine results pages.

Let's say that our user is interested in searching for a specific long tail keyword: 'Search Engine Optimization for Dummies'. As you can see on the previous picture, our article is the perfect fit for this search engine query. Search engines use the content of SEO slugs to better understand what that web page is about. If your potential visitors see a web page that looks like that, with an amazing SEO slug that matches the given search term criteria, they won't search any more for this specific set of keywords.

But what happens if your SEO slug isn't properly set? The SEO slugs aren't only used by search engines - each of your potential customers can see the URL of the web pages on your site. If you didn't have the time to properly configure your URL, it might look pretty ugly and unclear to your visitors. This will have a negative effect on your business, you will lose potential visitors to your website. This doesn't mean that you will only lose the potential visitors, this also means that you will lose the potential customers also - this can be devastating to your business.

A simple example

To give you a better insight on what impression SEO slugs leave on your visitors, here are two examples of specific SEO slugs. Let's say that your potential visitor is looking for an article on 'How to Improve SEO score'. The best possible SEO slug that you can have for this search is : www.yourwebsite/how-to-improve-seo-score. But, if you didn't optimize your SEO slug, your web page URL might end up looking like this: www.yourwebsite/article16734.php.

The SEO slugs that look like a random bunch of letters and numbers are very bad for your website and its future growth. They can have a harmful effect on your business and it's crucial not to forget to optimize each of your web page's SEO slugs. It will hurt your web page SEO score and it will also look confusing to your users.

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The significance of a SEO slug on any of your web pages can be represented in these two categories:

  • Search engine optimization. Setting up a proper SEO slug for any of your web pages has a massive effect on your SEO scores. If the search engine crawlers don't understand the content of your web page, they can't promote them to your potential visitors. They simply won't know what is the content of your web page, which makes it impossible to find them on the search engine results page.
  • User friendly. Don't forget that the purpose of SEO slugs isn't solely for search engine optimization. They can be seen by all of your potential visitors after they perform a specific search query. If they are set up in a proper way, it will help your users understand what content can they expect on your web page.
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It is obvious that SEO slugs have a huge impact on your website, not only when it comes to your SEO rankings, but also on making it clearer for your users to understand your web page's content.

How did SEO slugs evolve?

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The search engine optimization of websites is constantly evolving. In order to keep up with the constant changes and upgrades, every single aspect of SEO is evolving on a daily basis. If you asked the question "What is an SEO slug and how it affects my website?" three years ago, you would get a completely different answer than today.

In the early days of search engine optimization, URL slugs were usually overlooked. No one thought that the URLs had any effect on your search engine result page rankings. This means that the most of URLs looked like a bunch of a random text that comes after you website's address. They didn't have any purpose, so they weren't considered when it comes to SEO.

With the implementation of better search engine algorithms and more complex conditions for a good SEO score, things started to change. People started wondering if SEO slugs had a bigger impact on search engines than they thought. This same question, "What is an SEO slug and how it affects my website?", got a completely different answer in just a few years. This just proves how fast can SEO evolve to a better algorithm with more variables.

It was no longer a set of random words at the end of your website's address that had no effect on your SEO scores - it was a whole new way to optimize your website. Nowadays, it's really rare to see a web page that doesn't have an optimized URL slug. It's crucial to optimize you SEO slugs in order to keep up with the SEO evolution and to maintain great ranking scores on the search engines.

What can we expect

With the constant evolution of search engine optimization, who knows what the future will bring. In a few short years, we might get a completely different answer to the question "What is an SEO slug and how it affects my website". The search engines can implement a whole new algorithm on how they rank the websites considering their URL slugs. We can't really anticipate the exact method on improving our URL slugs - we will just have to wait and see for ourselves what the future brings.

Introduction to SEO slugs

In order to find your web pages, Google has a specific set of instructions that needs to be done before the Google's result pages are shown. Before showing the results to your potential visitors, Google crawling and indexing will be done on every website that matches the given search query. To find out more about these processes, you can check this article.

How can we use this information to our advantage? There are various ways that impact on how Google ranks and indexes each of your web pages. Let's see how can we improve those ratings in every possible way. Here is a complete list of things that you should pay attention to, in order to optimize your URL slugs to the fullest.

Relation to Google's Indexing process

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Search engine indexing is one of the first steps that search engines provide for every search query. The search engine crawlers will go through every page of your website and store all the necessary information in its database. The web page's URL will always be stored in Google's indexing stage, in order to identify all of the important attributes of that web page.

The Google search engine gives a lot of attention when it comes to URLs of your web pages. This is why it's extremely important to have a SEO slug that is properly formatted and gives the best information about each of your web pages. You don't want to lose web page ratings because you didn't set your SEO slugs in a proper way.

Google search engine is interested in what is an SEO slug trying to tell him - so be sure to follow all of the steps in this guide in order to make the perfect SEO slugs for your business.

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Don't use stop words

You should try to filter out all of the unnecessary words from your URL slug. Try to remove the words such as: "a","an","the","and", etc. Don't try to remove the crucial keywords in your URL slug, just the unnecessary ones.

This should generally be done before you publish your post. If you have already published your post, try not to make changes on your permalink - those could affect the users that already visited your post.

If you have the need to change the URL of your post after you have already published it, make sure that you do the redirection of your post properly. If you are using WordPress, redirect from the old post URL to the new one should be done automatically. If it's not, you will need to do it manually. We will talk about 301 redirects later in this guide.

Put the right focus on your URL

It's not enough to just filter out the stop words, you should remove any words that don't belong there. Make sure that your SEO slug has a proper meaning after you remove all of those words. If you are using WordPress, your URL slugs will be generated automatically. They will have the same name as the title of your article. You can change this given content of your slug at any time.

Keep in mind that each slug needs to focus on a specific set of keywords. You should try to use a SEO slug that isn't too long, but covers all of the content that can be found on this particular web page. The article that you assigned this SEO slug to should remain the central point of the content about that specific set of keywords on your whole website.

Let's say, for an example, that you are running a restaurant. If you have an article that features the keywords:"what is an SEO slug" in the URL slug, that means the central place for all the information about those keywords is on this web page. It's highly unlikely that you have another web page with the content similar to this one, so there is no need to change this particular SEO slug. It's current version is specific enough for your whole website.

If you were running a search engine optimization business, you might want to add more keywords to this particular article. Maybe you want to only talk about SEO slugs optimization. In that case, you should consider a SEO slug that contains the words:"what is an SEO slug optimization" or "what is an SEO slug performance boost".

The content of your SEO slug depends only on the content that you are sharing with your visitors on the web page that this SEO slug is describing. There is only one thing that you should keep in mind when it comes to the focus of SEO slug - it should provide enough information about the content of that particular web page without unnecessary keywords.

Straight to the point

Each of your web page's URLs will be shown on Google search results pages. This means that your potential visitors will be able to see your SEO slug as soon as they press the enter button after their query. You shouldn't include too much words into your URL slug if you have the intentions to change the article in the future.

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The important thing is that you make the SEO slug as short as possible, without excluding the crucial keywords. If your slug is not short enough, it won't be shown on mobile search results pages.

In order to do this process correctly, you need to ask yourself a simple question about this particular web page- What is an SEO slug describing? It has one primary goal, and that is to describe the content of that web page in as few words as possible. Short and descriptive SEO slugs can do wonders for your business.

Using dashes to separate keywords in your slug

When it comes to SEO slug, the process of using dashes for separation of your keywords is a common practice, so we are just reminding you in order not to forget it. You shouldn't try to replace the dash (-) character with any other character - this goes without exceptions. An example of what is an SEO slug with a proper format can be something like : www.yourbusiness.healthy-natural-ingredients-for-teeth.

Using only lowercase characters in your SEO slug

This is also a common practice when it comes to the URL slug optimization. You should avoid having capital letters in your SEO slug, and only use the lowercase ones.

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The reason why it's done in this particular way is simple - some of the web servers interpret lowercase characters differently that the capital ones. So, for example, the URL on your website that looks like this: http://www.mybusiness.com/healthy-teeth is a different web page that the URL that looks like this: http://www.mybusiness.com/Healthy-Teeth, or like this: http://www.mybusiness.com/Healthy-teeth.

Keep this in mind when you are doing the optimization of your URL slugs, because it can cause some confusion if you forget this.

Using 301 redirect to the modified URLs

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In case that you have already set a SEO slug for your web page that you aren't satisfied with, you can easily change this. In addition to simply changing the content of this particular SEO slug, you also need to make changes to the address itself - you need to redirect your visitors and search engines to the new URL.

What is the best way to do this process? The best solution for this problem is to set a 301 redirect to your new web page URL. A 301 redirect is a redirect that is permanent, from the old URL to the new one. Every time a search engine or your site visitor clicks on a 301 redirect, he will be sent to a different URL - a new URL that you have chosen.

These types of redirects indicate to both search engines and users that the page that they are looking for has been moved permanently. This is a good SEO practice, if you need to change your old URLs permanently, the best option is to use 301 redirects.

Don't forget that when you move your desired page to a new URL, the search engines might take some time to properly discover the 301 redirect, recognize it as a proper redirect, and give the "new" page the same rankings and trust of the "previous" page. This process can take longer if the search engine crawlers visits your original web page URL rarely, or if your new URL isn't set correctly and it doesn't properly resolve.

Be careful when you do the 301 redirect - make sure that you have done everything correctly. The last thing that you want is that your new URL can't be found by search engines or your visitors. This can have a really harmful effect on your business, so be sure to double check that everything is working smoothly.

Final thoughts

We have made this complete guide in order to help you understand what is an SEO slug. If you followed all of our tips correctly you should be able to fully optimize all of the SEO slugs on your website without the need to use Google every few minutes.

We are certain that this guide will give you a better insight on SEO slugs and a complete answer to your question: "What is an SEO slug?". But, most importantly, you will have enough knowledge that you can implement on your own website, in order to reach its full potential.

It would be a shame if you were losing search result rankings because you didn't do enough research on SEO slugs. We hope this guide will have all of the answers to your questions regarding SEO slugs and their optimization.

The only thing that you need to do is make sure you understood all of the tips that we wrote about here and try to implement them on your website. You will be amazed how much results can a simple tweak of your website's SEO slugs yield. It doesn't have to be a tiresome process of trying to find that perfect guide on Google - all of the necessary information are right here.

If you still have some trouble with SEO slugs, or SEO generally, our team of professionals would be happy to help your business reach its full potential. The greatest pleasure for us are our satisfied customers, who can see their business growing step by step with our helping hand.

It's time to shape your business in anyway you want it, it's just a matter of taking the right decisions. If you choose us, you won't have to deal with the questions like: What is an SEO slug and similar ones. You can just relax and enjoy because you made a good decision, and the best decision for your business's growth is our company!

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Nebojsa Rakic has been working with many clients that own an online business for over four years. Most of those businesses want to see their Google search ranking surge. He also provides articles which focus on balancing information with SEO needs – but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read. His educational background in software engineering has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics.

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