You can improve user experience and even boost your SEO by understanding how to create effective URL slugs for your website pages.
We spend more time online every year, but few of us pay close attention to the behind-the-scenes details of every website we visit. However, the many bits of information that go into organizing website content make a big difference in determining whether we find it and decide to view it.
One of these details is how we name and label different web pages. Every page of every website has a unique uniform resource locator (URL) that is used to differentiate it from other pages on the site and to navigate directly to that page’s content quickly and easily.
The words used in a URL can help users find, remember and understand if a web page seems to be a good match for their search queries.
While URLs may not be as noticeable as they once were (just think how many people use mobile devices to search online), they still should be structured to organize and help your users as much as possible. If they also lend a slight boost to your search engine optimization (SEO), consider it a bonus.
What is a URL?
A URL acts like an address, telling people where to find page content. Your website will have a homepage URL and URLs that label different pages, such as your about page, products and services pages, and contact page.
A URL provides details that help search engines and users find and understand the page content. These details can help drive users to the correct page on a site based on their search queries. How you craft your URLs can influence how easily users find your web pages.
What is a URL slug?
A URL slug is an address that helps people locate a specific page on a website and understand what the content on that page will be about.
You’ll find it in the portion of the web address that comes after the website’s name. The words are usually separated by hyphens. In the URL https://www.postmediasolutions.com/blog/google-analytics-seo/, the slug is google-analytics-seo.
A properly written slug can help with SEO and support users in understanding the relevance of a web page, making it easier to remember and share.
How is a URL slug created?
When you publish a new page on a website, such as a new product page or blog post, your content management system (such as WordPress) will generate a URL slug. It’s typically generated from the page’s title and you can change it manually in your website’s backend.
What is the importance of URL slugs for SEO?
A URL slug helps search engines figure out what a page is all about and makes the user experience better. For the best SEO, it should be short, descriptive and straightforward.
Clear and easy-to-read URL slugs contribute to your SEO by:
- Offering web users transparency and clarity about your pages, improving the user experience and increasing the likelihood of people clicking on your links.
- Allowing search engines to better assess and understand the content of your pages, so they show up in more search results and obtain higher rankings.
- Making web users more confident about sharing your pages on social media and other places online.
A URL slug is considered an ideal place to include your primary keyword for a page. This will help search engines understand who you are targeting with your content and who will find it most useful.
However, it is important to note that having keywords in the URL is only one of many factors that contribute to better rankings. Google Search doesn’t share detailed road maps of how you can influence your search rankings, but your web page’s content, keyword use, internal and external linking, and other factors also play important roles in SEO.
Best practices when creating URL slugs
There are a few ways to ensure your URL slug supports your SEO goals or, at least, doesn’t detract from them.
When creating URL slugs, follow these guidelines:
1. Keep it relevant and use the primary keyword
URL slugs are all about making your web addresses user friendly. Each one should give a brief description of what the page is about.
A neat trick is to use the main keyword for a page in the slug.Using the target keyword is helpful because it is usually an accurate and short description of what the page is about.
2. Focus on the user experience
A well-crafted slug can make searching easier for your users, helping them understand what the page contains before they click on it.
For a better user experience, create short URL slugs that are easy to read and give a quick description of the page’s content. You’ll help users quickly identify whether your web page matches their search query.
3. Keep it short
Placing your focus on the user can also help you choose the ideal URL slug length. It’s typically between three and five words, enough to offer clarity but not overwhelm a reader or search engine during a quick assessment of the information.
However, the optimal length of a slug depends on the page’s content, so choose the best fit for your web page and the information included on the page.
4. Avoid numbers and dates
It’s a good idea to make your URL slugs as timeless and evergreen as possible. This ensures they stay relevant for users, no matter when they visit your site or how much time has passed since a page was published. Avoid adding dates, even if your page or post has a title with a date in it. Also, avoid URL slugs that include the number of tips, points or reasons outlined on a page.
Over time, other websites may link to your pages, or users may bookmark or save your posts. You never know when you might update your content, and you don’t want your links to break because you’ve expanded the content you’re offering.
5. Use proper formatting
Following recommended formatting guidelines helps ensure search engines can easily assess the content on your site and readers can remember it.
URL slugs should contain only lowercase letters and the words in a slug should be separated by hyphens, not underscores or spaces. Avoid special characters or words that don’t offer SEO meaning — also called stop words.
SEO efforts help offer clear signals to search engines to deliver your content to interested searchers. While it’s often difficult to measure the effectiveness of each tactic, there is no doubt that well-crafted URL slugs help web users find, understand and share your content. These alone are good reasons to implement a strategy for crafting clear and relevant URL slugs.