Search engine optimization (SEO) is super important when it comes to generating organic traction and elevating the online presence of your business.
In order to stand out from your competition, it’s essential to optimize your website for search engines, as it helps you climb the search engine results pages (SERPs) comparatively easily.
And to do that, there are various things that marketers generally consider. However, one thing that often goes unnoticed is URL slug optimization.
It’s a process in which you optimize your URLs and make them search-engine-friendly, which in turn helps fuel your content marketing and SEO.
So, if you’ve been striving to improve your SEO, it’s highly recommended that you don’t forget to optimize your URL slugs.
This article will tell you how to do that.
If you’ve been affiliated with the world of digital marketing, you already know what a URL slug is. However, those just getting started may not be familiar with its importance.
So, let’s take it from the top and explore the concept first before diving into the details.
A URL slug is the end part of a website’s URL that generally follows a domain suffix. It serves as a unique identifier for your website’s different pages or published content.
Since URL slugs represent different pages of your website, they should be different from one another. Otherwise, you may run into duplicate content issues.
Well-thought-out slugs not only facilitate the user experience but also help you boost your presence on search engines.
Your URL slugs help your visitors find the information they’re looking for. Plus, they make it easier for search engines to explore your content and assign rankings to your pages accordingly.
Therefore, it’s important that you know how to generate an effective URL slug to ensure better SEO performance.
The way you generate your URL slugs has a tremendous impact on your SEO and the results you drive from your strategies.
When striving to improve the online presence and search engine visibility of brands, marketers often have one goal in mind: impress Google.
Why? Because in the search engine industry, Google stands at the top with more than 93% of the market share.
So, it’s a no-brainer that a business with an online presence would want to be in the good books of the search engine giant.
Google uses its web crawlers to interact with your pages and evaluate the content published to determine the rankings of your respective pages. Now imagine providing its crawlers with cluttered and unorganized information in the form of your URL slugs.
Not only will it make it difficult for the search engine to process the information provided, but it will also leave a bad impression.
Assuming that you’ve already been producing content as per the search engine guidelines, smartly generated URL slugs come in handy here.
Concise and optimized URL slugs allow web crawlers to effortlessly extrapolate your pages’ data and fuel the search engine ranking factors.
By doing something as simple as adding your focus keywords to your slugs, you notify search engines about the audience that you wish to attract and ask for your rankings to be assessed accordingly.
Providing access to information as simplistic as this qualifies you as a contender and enables you to compete with other players in your respective niche on the intended queries.
Now that you know about URL slugs and their importance in SEO, let’s explore how you can generate an effective URL slug for your different pages.
1. Keep URLs Short
The first and foremost thing to keep in mind when creating your URLs is that they should always be concise.
Short URLs facilitate the user experience by giving your website visitors a glimpse of your page’s content, enabling them to find the answers they seek easily.
Plus, they help search engine crawlers access the content published on your website and use the information to determine your rankings.
So, it’s highly recommended that the URL slugs for your pages be no more than five words. Simply put, the shorter your URLs, the better.
2. Add Focus Keywords
One of the best and easiest ways to optimize your URLs for search engines is to add focus keywords representing your different pages in their respective URLs.
Whether it’s a blog post or a landing page showcasing the features and capabilities of the solutions you offer, it’s highly recommended that you add the target keywords in your URL slugs.
This helps search engines recommend the respective pages in response to relevant search queries and makes it easier for you to attract your target audience.
3. Use Hyphens
The use of spaces is not permitted in a URL slug. That’s why you use hyphens or dashes to separate different words comprising your URL.
However, that’s not the only reason for using hyphens. Using hyphens in a URL makes them easy to read, which, in a way, improves your user experience.
One more thing worth mentioning here is that you should refrain from using any other symbols or characters in your URLs.
Even when promoting a special deal or discount, it will be unwise to add a percentage symbol in the URL slug of that page.
For example, if you are running a 50% discount campaign, “/sale” or “/summer-sale” will serve as much better URL slugs compared to “/sale-50%” or “/summer-sale-50%”.
4. Avoid Adding Numbers
You should always avoid adding numbers to your URL slugs. They may not pose an immediate threat but can cause problems for you in the long run, as adding numbers to your URL slugs makes it difficult to update your content.
Let’s say a few months ago, you published an article called “The 10 best SEO strategies that help improve your rankings”, and the URL you came up with was “/10-best-seo-strategies”. The article was updated last week, and it now covers 15 SEO strategies.
The current content update will not only require you to change the article’s heading but also its URL slug.
Not only that, but you will also have to set a redirect to your previous URL if you don’t want to lose your returning visitors.
Even by doing all this, there’s a chance that you may see a momentary decline in search engine rankings and your organic traffic.
So, a much better approach would be to skip the number and just go with a generic URL slug like “/best-SEO-strategies.” Doing this means you wouldn’t need to update your URL slug each time you update your content.
5. Avoid Adding Dates
In the past, adding dates or years to the URL slug was common practice. Some did it because it was a standard WordPress permalink structure, whereas others considered it an efficient way to categorize their content.
The approach may have been relevant then, but now it’s become obsolete. As a matter of fact, adding dates to your URL slugs may cause the same problems for you as adding numbers does.
Plus, adding dates increases the length of your URL slugs, which may leave no room for your focus keywords.
So, it’s highly recommended that you refrain from adding dates to your URL slugs, as it may do more harm than good.
6. Use Lowercase Letters
The use of uppercase letters in your URL slug is permissible. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
You can’t be too careful when it comes to generating URL slugs for your pages. So, it’s best that you refrain from using uppercase letters when creating your URLs.
Some platforms like WordPress automatically convert all your URL slug characters to lowercase, even when you’ve added a few in uppercase.
And since the platform holds more than 64% of the CMS market share, many don’t give much thought to character sensitivity when creating URL slugs for their pages.
However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, as you may not want to run into duplicate content issues or 404 errors down the road. So, it’s best to be careful from the start.
7. Align URLs With Your Content
When creating a URL slug for your page, it’s essential for your URL to resonate with the page’s headline or the published content. This serves two purposes.
First, when potential visitors stumble upon your URLs, they get a clear idea of the information they’ll find when they visit your page.
Second, aligning the URL slugs with your content helps increase your pages’ relevance and gives you an opportunity to claim higher rankings.
Remember, your URL slug doesn’t need to be exactly the same as your page’s headline. It just needs to capture the essence of the content.
Many fail to consider the importance of URL slugs and often use ones automatically generated by the content management system (CMS) platform. This is a common mistake that often leaves them grappling with poor search engine visibility.
Smartly generated URL slugs go a long way and contribute to improving your website’s SEO. So, for those who have been striving to make their websites search-engine-friendly, the recommendations in this article may come in handy.