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All About Slugs (Not the Slimy Kind)

You don’t need to pay attention to your post slugs — but there could be real traffic benefits if you do.

When we start writing a new post, WordPress automatically creates a URL for the post using our blog’s address, the date, and post title. Great, now you don’t have to worry about your post’s URL, right? All taken care of.

Not quite. You don’t need to lose sleep over your post URLs, but paying some attention to the post slug — the bit of the URL after the address and date — can have a nice traffic payoff.

“I’m still not sure what a slug is!”

The slug is the bit of your post’s (or page’s) URL that describes what that specific post is about. Here’s the URL of this post, with the slug in bold:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/post-slugs/

If I’d used the URL that WordPress auto-generated for me based on the post title, the slug would have been:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/all-about-slugs-not-the-slimy-kind/

They both get the job done, but one is short and easy to read, while the other is long and unwieldy. Think about what the auto-generated slug would look like for “Perennial Favorites: Should You Connect Your Blog to Your LinkedIn Account?” or “Recommended Reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” and you’ll start to see how easy it is for post slugs to bulk up.

“I’m still not sure why I should care.”

First, it makes an easy-to-remember, easy-to-share URL, and lets the person with whom you’re sharing the URL — or the person who sees the link out in the wild — understand the focus of your post quickly. And when we know what we’re getting into, we’re more likely to click.

More importantly, Google likes a short, focused slug that contains the key words describing the post and not a lot of fluff. Slugs are important to search engine rankings; the fewer keywords your slugs contain, the more highly they’re valued. Google is smart — it knows that a long title and slug have lots of filler words (from a search engine standpoint), so it gives the words less weight.

Let’s look again at what the auto-generated slug for this post would look like:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/all-about-slugs-not-the-slimy-kind/

It’s full of words that make for an interesting title but are meaningless from a search perspective: all, about, not, the, slimy, and kind. If you were looking for information on post slugs, you wouldn’t search for those terms and the Google Wizards know it. Make your titles as fun, funny, titillating, or descriptive as you want — then edit your slugs to make them succinct and focused.

“I’m convinced. How do I edit my slugs?”

Simple. If you’re writing a post (or page) in the classic editor, the URL appears just below the title field — click “Edit” to change the post slug:

slug-2

post slugIf you’re writing in the new visual editor, you’ll find the post slug under “Advanced Settings,” the last option on the right-hand side of the page. “Slug” is the first field — enter your text, and it will save along with your post text.

The slug will depend on what you’re writing about, but here are a few ground rules:

  • Keep it short — five words or less — and limit it to words that actually describe what the post is about.
  • Remove “stopwords.” Words like the, in, a/an, is, and it don’t tell search engines anything about the focus of your post, so they’ll be filtered out. You want to keep your slug focused, so don’t waste a word on something that search engines will ignore anyway.
  • No punctuation. Slugs are lowercase letters and numbers only. Punctuation will be automatically removed, which could leave you with meaningless words (“doesnt”).

It only takes a second to edit your slug, but Google will thank you!

Note: Changing the slug of a post that you’ve already published means that all existing links to that post will stop working. Make sure you update all links with the new URL if you decide to retroactively modify your slugs.

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  1. Great post. I myself have tinkered with the slugs on post before especially when I decide to change the title later on. I think it updates now but in the past it did not.
    I don’t use it that much now because I try to keep my titles simple with mostly the key words the post is focused on.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cheers for this implement, I’ve been struggling with the to the point titles vs. whimsical ones dichotomy until now. However, is there any reason why the slugs can only be edited in the new visual editor – or why there are two different editors to begin with?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You can edit the slug in either editor — take a look at the screenshots in the post.

      We’re working on making the visual editor cleaner and more intuitive to use, so are starting to roll out some changes. For the time being, you can opt to keep using the classic editor.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I like changing them. Just because I don’t like what it automatically generates. When I change it I’m being creative too. So I’m glad that I’m able to do it. If you know how take advantage of it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have now changed ALL my slugs, and you know what? It was really cool! Instead of having those mile-long adresses that now are much more to the point. I have said thanks once, but want to say it again since it was super helpfull, and I would never have figured out this on my own.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries Wendy, I didn`t know about this earlier either:) Open up a post that you have allready posted so it is easy to see the url link to your post. But open the post in the editor in your blog. Look below the name of your post. The permalink is the url for your post. There is a button that gives you the option of editing the url, it simply says “edit” Do you see it? Klick on “edit” and you will be able write a new name of the url link. Hope I explained it properly (I am norwegian so english isn`t my original language) but let me know if I made no sence, and I`ll try and explain better:)

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      2. That is really cool! My blog is so new that I don`t have many visitors yet, I think I`m not that easily spottet amongst the thousands of blogs here in Norway, (or the milions around the world, lol) but hopefully this perhaps can help me a bit on the way:D

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