URL Slug: Definition, SEO Basics & Best Practices




Updated 2/3/2024

Understand the basics of URL slugs and how to create them using SEO best practices. Find formatting tips and tricks for mastering slugs.

url slug featured image - techno slug illustration

Slugs are a simple yet often troubling part of online content. They are a key portion of URL structures, have a tiny amount of SEO value, and include a few considerations. This quick guide covers everything you need to know about slugs.

What are URL Slugs?

URL slugs are strings of text representing a webpage, usually lowercase and separated by hyphens. They are part of the URL, or the address of a specific webpage. They should be readable and follow an SEO-friendly structure.




In this instance, the slug is “best-coffee-shops”, a clear and keyword-targeted option.

Slugs and SEO

URL slugs are a confirmed ranking factor for Google search results, but they have very little weight. While optimizing slugs will help you check every box for on-page SEO, they won’t make or break your search strategy or help you climb in the SERPs.

In fact, Google’s John Mueller says they’re “overrated” for SEO:

Google’s John Mueller dishing out SEO slug advice in 2017.

Still, strategic slugs can help convey your content and enhance user experience. Keep them readable and use keywords to illustrate their expected content.

URL Slug Best Practices

You’d be surprised how difficult slugs are for some people just getting into SEO. For some reason, they can be intimidating even with their simplicity.

Fear not; they are really quite simple to master with these simple tips:

  • Use lowercase letters: Always use lowercase letters, as URLs are case-sensitive. Even changing one letter to a capital will create a different address. ?
  • Use hyphens for spaces: This is the preferred method. Regular spaces create odd URLs with “%20” where the spaces should be. Gross.
  • Avoid special characters: Don’t use special characters such as “&” in slugs, as they can cause browsing issues and aren’t SEO-friendly.
  • Avoid stop words: Words like “and”, “or”, “but”, and “the” are considered stop words. They don’t add value and can be omitted.
  • Brevity: Keep slugs short and to the point. Aim for a few short words, usually five at most. You can add more without harming SEO, but simpler is better.
  • Keyword Inclusion: Use your primary keyphrase in the slug. While this isn’t essential for high SERP rankings, it’s also good practice for UX and keeps the page focused.
  • Relevance: Ensure the slug is relevant to the page content. Don’t add other keywords in them in hopes of boosting rankings. (Won’t happen.)
  • Avoid temporary information: URLs are addresses for webpages, so they should stay flexible. Don’t include information that can easily get outdated or changed, such as “12-tips-for” or “presidential-candidate-wins-4-states”. Otherwise, you’ll have to redirect the page to fix the slug, and that can weaken SEO value.

Slug Examples

Real quick, let’s walk through a few examples of good and bad slugs:

Good SlugsBad Slugs

Good URL slugs are descriptive, concise, and readable, conveying the topic and expected content of the page. They include relevant keywords and follow best practices for SEO and user experience.

Bad URL slugs are often generic, contain random characters, or lack relevance. They can make the URL difficult to understand and remember, impacting SEO and user engagement. You so got this by now, right?

URL Slug Tool

While there are plenty of online tools that can help with slugs, they really aren’t that difficult to manage. As such, we just recommend this tool for working with Slugs:

  • Slugify: A tool for turning text strings into optimized slugs. While you can type out slugs in most cases, this tool makes it easier when working with (intentionally) longer slugs.

“But wait. Shouldn’t slugs be short enough that I don’t have to use this?” Eh. It’s up to you. As covered earlier, slugs have little impact on SEO rankings. Feel free to make them longer when needed, such as targeting a longer keyphrase. This tool can make that less tedious and save you a few precious seconds of boredom.

Bottom Line

Understanding and optimizing URL slugs is a simple yet effective step toward improving the SEO and user-friendliness of your website. Use best practices, creating slugs that are simple, well-formatted, and evergreen. ?


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