What Is a URL Slug? Why It Matters & How to Optimize


Search engine optimization (SEO) can be complicated given the countless factors you need to master. And with everything there is to strategize, it’s easy to overlook the finer details. But just like anything else in SEO, these small details can have a significant impact on your rankings. That’s why it’s important to know what a URL slug is and understand how to create one properly.

Slugs play a role in an effective SEO strategy. Let’s learn why they are important and how to optimize them…

What Is a URL Slug?

A URL slug is the last part of the URL structure that signals the content of a specific page. A slug can contain various characters—words, letters, or numbers—and is only applicable to specific pages on your website. Your website’s home page won’t contain a slug because you will be using only your website domain to reach that page. 

In some cases, slugs are automatically generated. But you do have the option to customize them. And the latter is the preferred choice, especially if you want to boost your website’s SEO and search engine results page (SERP) performance. 

Why Do URL Slugs Matter?

There was a time when people barely cared about how a slug was structured. But in the world of competitive SEO, even the slightest details can affect how you rank on Google.

You can never underestimate the power of a good slug in Google’s eyes. For starters, it’s a must for on-page SEO. However, there are several other reasons URL slugs matter. 

Here are just a few…

They Tell Users about Page Content

The best URL slugs are the ones that provide website users with a hint as to what the page content is about. 

Take this for example… 

There are automated slugs for your website made with numbers and characters. Many web users might think twice about clicking on those links because they do not know what the page is about or if it is even trustworthy.

Meanwhile, adding an optimized URL slug containing your target keyword will give users a hint about the page’s content. They are more likely to click on that URL because it matches their search term. So, they assume the page will provide them with the information or solution they’re looking for. 

They Help Google with Site Indexing

You already know URL slugs are helpful to the people who read your website. But what you may not know is they’re also crucial for the search engine spiders to crawl through and index your website. 

When these spiders collect information about your website, the slug is one of the first areas they look at. They will compare the slug to the content of the page. If both the slug and the content support the targeted keywords, they are more likely to rank that page higher. 

They Improve Your Chances of Ranking for Target Keywords

As mentioned earlier, a big part of optimizing your website involves choosing the right keywords. You want to make sure you’re selecting keywords that…

If you can target both your readers and the search engine spiders with your usage of keywords in your URL slugs, it can significantly boost your rankings. Of course, the biggest factor is whether Google determines the content matches search intent. But you should also know where to place those keywords for maximum results. A slug is one of those places. 

How to Optimize Your URL Slugs

Man sitting at laptop with SEO concept overlay.

In a Forbes article by Shane Barker about how to maintain strong rankings, the use of keywords in a slug is mentioned as one of the best SEO practices to use in 2022. As a digital marketing consultant, Barker knows what he is talking about to optimize your pages for Google. 

But how exactly do you do this? What are the best practices to follow if you want to outrank your competition on Google? 

Here are some tips to follow…

1) Keep It Short

Ideally, you want to keep your URL slug as short as possible while ensuring it makes sense. Doing so allows users to understand what the content is about with ease. Plus, they’re more likely to remember the URL when it’s not just a long string of words, numbers, and letters.

According to experts, the ideal length of a slug for SEO is anywhere from 3 to 5 words. It also makes it easily visible when your page is shown as one of the results for a relevant search term. 

2) Include Your Target Keyword

It’s nonnegotiable—you need to add your target keyword to your URL slug. But it does not have to match the exact title of the page. The best practice is to use only the exact keyword as your slug, plus a couple of extra words if necessary. 

3) Use a Hyphen Between Words

Use a hyphen between words in the URL slugs on your website. This makes each URL visually clean and easy to read. 

Since you cannot have spaces between the words in your URL (they render as “%20”), adding hyphens is a great way to break up the words in your slug. 

4) Keep It Evergreen

Another recommendation is to keep URL slugs evergreen. This makes them relevant for your website users regardless of the time and date they will be accessing a given web page. So, avoid adding dates to your slug even if you use dates in your page title.

5) Use All Lowercase Letters

When optimizing your URL slugs, make sure only to use lowercase letters. Some consider this a stylistic choice. However, it’s also strongly recommended to avoid confusion or duplication issues on your web pages. Uppercase letters in your URL, along with the use of spaces or percentage characters, can trigger 404-page issues. To avoid this, stick to lowercase letters. 

6) Remove Stop Words That Don’t Provide Meaning

To keep URL slugs short and neat, you should also consider removing stop words. These words offer no SEO value. So, it is often best to leave them out when structuring a page’s URL slug. 

Some examples of stop words include the following: 

Google ignores most of these words when crawling through websites because they are common words. Moreover, they do not necessarily indicate what the content is about. So, it makes sense to leave them out of your URL slug unless they serve a purpose or make a slug more readable. Ultimately, you should assess on a case-by-case basis. If leaving out a stop word would cause confusion, keep it in. 

7) Update Old Slugs, but Be Careful

Many website owners update their content regularly to boost traffic and ensure the information on their site is up to date. This is no doubt a good SEO practice. But what about your URL slug? Should you update it as well?

The answer is that it depends. If the current slug is particularly long, doesn’t fit the updated content, or simply wasn’t optimized in the first place, then it may make sense to change it. But you need to be careful that you update the URL slug the right way and set up a redirect so that it doesn’t harm your SEO efforts. 

That said, if a page is ranking well, you’re better off leaving it as is. 

Tip: Changing URLs in WordPress is easy if you have Yoast SEO Premium. You can just use the Yoast SEO Redirect Manager to create and manage redirects. 

Final Thoughts

Every URL slug deserves your attention. It is a way to communicate the content of a page to your audience. It also sends key data to the search engines about your page for ranking on relevant searches. 

When your URL slugs are optimized and your overall SEO strategy is intact, you are more likely to see your SEO results improve.

If you need help with your SEO efforts, trust the professionals. At Viral Solutions, we have a team of digital marketing and SEO experts to guide you in building a data-backed strategy for optimal results. Learn more about our professional SEO services and start with a FREE marketing audit today!


At Viral Solutions we are committed to seeing YOU succeed. It is our goal to grow your business with proven digital marketing strategies that will help your business for the long haul.

Stay Up To Speed in the Ever Changing World of Marketing!

Sign-up today for FREE, monthly marketing tips, loopholes, and news to EXPLODE your Return on Investment!


Share your knowledge and gain exposure by becoming a guest author on our blog! Learn how to write for us.

Filed Under: Business Tips

About Caitie

Caitie's background as an editorial assistant, blog writer, and proofreader has served her well in her current position within our content department. She applies the skills she has acquired through training and hands-on experience daily, ensuring the quality of the content provided to clients.

In her role, Caitie is responsible for conducting research and producing various types of educational content and sales copy. She is committed to ensuring each piece is optimized for search and speaks to the client's target audience.

Caitie is passionate about learning and seeks every opportunity to further expand on her knowledge of marketing best practices. In addition to undergoing StoryBrand agency training, she has met the necessary requirements to become a DigitalMarketer Certified Content Marketing Specialist and Direct-Response Copywriting Specialist, as well as Yoast SEO Copywriting and Keyword Research certified.

During her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with loved ones.