As a savvy WordPress user, you’ve probably heard of WordPress slugs. They’re simple bits of the core WordPress software that have a huge impact on your site’s search engine optimization. And since they’re so seemingly simple, it’s easy to miss out on the benefits they have to offer.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about WordPress slugs – from what they are to why they’re important. We’ll also go over some of the best practices you should keep in mind when implementing WordPress slugs to get the most out of them.
Let’s get cracking!
What Are WordPress Slugs?
WordPress slugs are a string of words separated by hyphens that are used to describe a post, page, categories, tags, or custom post types. By default, WordPress generates URL-friendly versions of your post (or page) title as the slug. For instance, the slug for this post is the-ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-slugs.
You can modify the post’s slug to anything you’d like by simply editing it. For instance, we could edit this post’s slug to ultimate-guide-wordpress-slugs.
As you can tell from the images above, the WordPress slug appears as part of the URL that links to the article. This means that your visitors view the slug (as part of the URL) when they access a post or page on your website. And since it’s part of the URL, search engines can view it, too.
Though WordPress slugs are incredibly easy to implement, they can have a huge impact on your site.Click to tweet
- Posts. WordPress automatically generates a slug for each post you create. The slug itself is based on the post’s title and is in all lowercase letters (and numbers), with the words separated by hyphens instead of spaces.
- Pages. For each page you create, WordPress will generate a slug based on the page’s title. Similar to the post’s slug, you are able to edit it before publishing the page.
- Categories. A WordPress slug is associated with every new category that you add to your site. You can edit the way the category slug is presented in Posts >> Categories.
- Tags. Similar to categories, tags also need to have a slug associated with them. Once you create a new tag, you will be prompted to enter a slug for it, too. The slug should be in all lowercase letters (and numbers) with hyphens replacing spaces.
How Can I Optimize My WordPress Slugs?
When it comes to WordPress slugs, there are several ways you can go about implementing them in your website. Because they’re seemingly simple to work with, it’s easy to miss out on the many benefits they have to offer. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the best practices for implementing WordPress slugs so that you can leverage them to their full potential.
Don’t Use Stop Words
Having stop words in your post’s and page’s titles are inevitable. Since WordPress essentially generates an automated slug for based on the title, they almost always have stop words incorporated into them by default. Stop words, such as a, an, the, are words that search engines have been programmed to ignore.
As a best practice, it’s a good idea to edit your post’s (and page’s) titles to remove these stop words from the get-go since the search engine will ignore them in both search queries and indexing entries. All you have to do is eliminate any stop words that show up in your post’s title. For instance, the slug for this post was the-ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-slugs and after editing it would become ultimate-guide-wordpress-slugs.
Keep Them Short, Simple, and Relevant
One of the best things you can do to your WordPress slugs is to keep them short, simple, and most importantly, relevant. This makes it easier for your visitors to get a better idea of what your content by simply looking at the URL. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to keep your slug up to five words. That said, it’s important that you make sure your slug is still descriptive enough to get the point across. You don’t want to change your post’s slug from the-ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-slugs to just ultimate-guide!
Additionally, editing WordPress slugs is especially useful for page titles. For instance, if you have a page titled, “Why You Should Hire Me to Write for Your Blog,” you might consider changing its slug from why-you-should-hire-me-to-write-for-your-blog to simply hire-me.
Incorporate Target Keywords
Since you’re already limited to using a few words in your WordPress slugs for the sake of following best practices, why not put in a little more effort to make sure those words are truly the best. Google Keyword Planner is one of the best (and free!) tools you can use to identify target keywords that are most likely to resonate with your audience.
Once you’ve found the keywords that are most relevant to your readers, you can try to center your post’s titles around them and edit their corresponding slugs accordingly. For instance, after a little research, you might find that the words guide and WordPress work well for your particular target audience but ultimate does not. You might want to edit your post’s title to guide-wordpress-slugs.
Don’t Edit Them After Publishing
When it comes to WordPress slugs, one of the absolute worst things you could do is edit a post (or page’s) slug after it’s already been published. This is because once you’ve already published a post, search engines will begin indexing your site based on the initially published URL. In addition to this, if you (or your site’s readers) share your post through social media, they will be using the original article’s URL to do so.
So if you edit that post’s slug after it’s already been published, you’re essentially changing the entire URL and risking a broken link. This could lead to a decrease in traffic and could have a negative impact on your site’s search engine ranking – especially if the broken links accumulate over time.
The thing about WordPress slugs is that they will be implemented in every post and page you publish on your website. This means that they will have an impact on everything from search engine optimization to your site’s user experience.
Two Plugins to Help You Manage WordPress Slugs
If you already have an existing WordPress website with posts and pages published on it, you may still want to edit their slugs. However, updating URLs after publishing can be tricky since you also need to manage redirects. Thankfully, you can install a WordPress plugin to take the heavy lifting out of it!
Redirection is one of the most popular WordPress plugins out there that allows you to manage 301 redirects, 404 errors, and broken links. If you have a bunch of WordPress slugs on your website that you want to edit, then you’ll need to install this plugin to make sure everything is in place once you’re done editing them.
- Adds a 301 redirection automatically when a URL is modified.
- Allows users to add 301, 302, and 307 redirections manually.
- Keeps a record of redirection statistics.
The Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin allows users to set up 301 redirects both manually and automatically for existing posts and pages. The plugin is optimized to work best with all of WordPress’ default permalink structures. Regardless of whether you want to safely update a couple of WordPress slugs or all of them, this lightweight plugin helps you get the job done.
- Works well with both WordPress navigation menus and custom post types.
- Allows users to completely re-write the URL for each redirect.
- Accepts all destination URL values – other WordPress posts and pages or any other, external URL.
WordPress slugs are simple bits of blogging functionality that really pack a punch. They not only allow website owners to deliver better user experience but also make it easier for the website to get a higher search engine ranking. If you’re setting up a new WordPress site, then it’s a good idea to follow the best practices we highlighted from the get-go. However, if your existing site is in need of a WordPress slug makeover, then you might consider installing one of the plugins we listed to update them safely.
Do you have any questions about WordPress slugs? Are you thinking about editing your existing post’s and page’s slugs? Let us know by commenting below!