WordPress Post Slug: Use It Efficiently

Daniel Scocco

I never paid much attention to the post slug feature inside WordPress, until recently when I submitted a guest post to Brian over Copyblogger. The post was titled “Six Common Punctuation Errors that Bedevil Bloggers.” The URL, however, was http://www.copyblogger.com/punctuation-mistakes/.

When I saw that I realized the potential of this little feature. So simple, yet so useful.

If you publish a post on WordPress without specifying the post slug, it will create a URL that is equal to the post title (provided you are already using an optimal URL structure). Most of the times, however, that URL will not be search engine optimized.

You probably want to write your headlines and post titles with humans in mind. After all, you need to make them catchy and motivate the reader to check the rest of the content. The same is not true for URLs. While a clean URL structure that contains a description of the page might benefit even human users, usually they are more relevant to search engines.

wordpresspostslug.png

That is where the WordPress post slug feature comes into play. On the little box that appears on the right of your text editor you can manually set the URL structure for that post. As you can see from the example I mentioned, Brian knew that many of the words used in the title of the post would not be used by users searching for similar information. He decided, therefore, to use just the keywords “punctuation” and “mistakes” in the URL.

When crafting your post slug try to focus on the keywords that are used on popular search queries, and remember that the fewer keywords you use, the higher their relative value.

Some people were already aware of this trick, but I think it was worth sharing.



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66 Responses to “WordPress Post Slug: Use It Efficiently”

  • Daniel Errante

    I was just providing a suggestion, but you seem to be trying to argue. Therefore I will ask you a few questions about your arguments because I am interested and also I want to see proof in your statements. Maybe you could make a new blog post out of it.

    1. Do more keywords in your URL really dilute the value of the keywords, or do they provide more description for search engines.

    2. I agree that the headline of my post on payment services is very long and probably not very user-friendly. But how often do users type in the URL directly? Am I really going to get more hits if I use less words in the headline?

    3. When you use the word “optimize,” I think of search engine optimizing a website, or more specifically, going after a certain keyword phrase. The wordpress slug option wouldn’t really help with this in my opinion. For example, if you do a bunch of keyword research on WordTracker and find a long tail keyword that you want to pursue, i.e. “wedding planning checklist,” you will want to include that specific phrase in your URL, page title, article headlines, and dispursed throughout the body copy. If you use this strategy, you will find that you won’t need to use the slug plugin in the first place!

    However, it is always nice to know what WordPress slug means and it’s good that you pointed it out for everyone. Thanks.

  • Fred @ Newest on the Net

    Great post. I have been using the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin. This is all of the SEO that you need to do on your blog. The post slug functionality is part of this plugin too.

  • Daniel

    OK let me use an example from your own blog which might be easier for you to understand.

    One of your posts is titled: Paypal, Google Checkout, Amazon…Which Payment Service Should You Use?

    The URL for that post is: /paypal-google-checkout-amazonwhich-payment-service-should-i-use/

    The keywords paypal, googlecheckout and amazon are popular. The others are not.

    Your URL contains 10 keywords, out of which only 3 are popular. You are diluting the value of the keywords “paypal”, “google checkout” and “amazon” by adding “which payment service you should use”.

    If you used the post slug featured to make this URL like: /paypal-google-checkout-amazon/ (provided you also have backlinks and other SEO factors in place) you would receive more organic traffic for these keywords on that post.

    So basically your URL is not optimized for the most popular keywords on that post.

    Clear?

  • Daniel Errante

    @Daniel:

    Hopefully you aren’t going after the keyword phrase “43 Fantastic WordPress Themes.”

    Keyword optimizing requires research to find out popular search keywords with low competition. I never said 43 is a popular search term.

  • Chip

    This post slug is efficiently especially when you want to trim down the unused words in a title for search engines, such as “of”, “in”, “with”, “a”, and others. You can even have a title for the article and another one in the slug, such as the article “Top 10 List of bla bla”, and the slug “The best ideas for bla bla”. Because you care for the search results, and once the reader lands on your blog, he will see the post and decide if he/she has to read it or not.

    This is because the first impression matters the most. When you see a result in Google, let’s say, you see the title, the description and the URL address. Based on these factors you make a decision: should I or shouldn’t I visit this blog? So, help your readers decide.

    I have been optimizing my post slugs since my first article.

  • Daniel

    @Daniel Errante

    Suppose the title of your post is “43 Fantastic WordPress Themes”

    What would be a better URL for that?

    1. http://www.domain.com/43-fantastic-wordpress-themes/

    or

    2. http://www.domain.com/wordpress-themes/

    According to your first comment the first comment, you would say that URL 1 is the optimal one.

    In my opinion this is not true though, URL 2 should be a better one since the keywords “wordpress” and “themes” will have a higher value, and the url will also be a perfect match for someone searching for “wordpress themes.”

    That is where the post slug feature comes into play, and that is why I did not agree with your first comment.

    Here is your comment:

    “However, I have to disagree with using this feature if you are trying to keyword optimize your website. Although shorter URLs are better for humans, more descriptive and keyword optimized URLs, page titles, headlines, and body copy will lead to better search engine results.”

    URL 2 is using the post slug feature and is keyword optimized. Making it more descriptive by including the “43 fantastic” would just add irrelevant keywords to the URL diluting the relative value of the important keywords “wordpress” and “themes”.

    Also, one could argue that we should make the title “WordPress Themes.” But that is not always the case since, as I explained in the post, post titles are done with humans in mind, and sometimes you need to include extra words there to make it catchy.

  • Daniel Errante

    @Daniel:

    When you are keyword optimizing a post or your website, you want your URLs, page titles, headlines, and body copy to feature a specific keyword phrase. If you notice in Google when you type in my company for example, “bizwidgets” you will notice Google bolds the keyword in the URL, page title, and body copy.

    I was just trying to suggest a tip that if you are keyword optimizing something, your URL, page title, headline, and body copy should all include one keyword phrase, for example “blog tips”

    I do like short URLs whenever possible! (when you aren’t keyword optimizing)

  • Ivy

    This is a great tip! While I have been using it blindly, I finally understand its purpose. Thanks!

  • ChunJae

    haha so that’s what it was for i didn’t even know…why called it a slug…

  • Olivier

    Great tip ! I do use the Post slug each time I post.
    I think I never used the default URL provided by WordPress.
    So a really good tip for SEO.

  • Daniel

    bmunch, yeah it would be better to make the post different for each post.

    It also depends on the URL structure you use, for instance having dates there would solve this problem.

  • Nick Grimshawe

    Well they say you learn something new everyday and your post certainly woke me up. The post slug has stared me in the face for almost two years with out ever suggesting a use. Now I stumble on your blog and the light goes on.

    Sorry got to go try this out on my blog.

    Nick

  • Jermayn Parker

    Defiantly worth mentioning. I do use it but more as an after thought…

  • CaribWebDev

    I use a SEO plugin to manage my headers and titles, but it’s good to know about this feature

  • Leo

    That’s right. Slug in English is totally necessary for some hosts hosting non English blogs.

  • roamlog

    post slug is useful for the Non-English speaking countries,how about me, i’m write post in chinese, if i do not use the post slug, the urls will include chinese character

  • Shankar Ganesh

    Once in a while, I use this option to edit the URL.
    If I remember correctly, there’s also a WordPress plugin that can fill the slug with good keywords related to your post.

  • bmunch

    I am just wonderiing if having a post slug identical to a previous post will cause a clash…or will it just add a running number to the end.

    e.g. a series of related post you are writing or a recurring theme post.

  • Daniel

    Daniel Errante, this feature affects the URL only, so I am not sure why you mentioned page titles, headlines and body copy.

    As far as the URL goes, the fewer and more focused keywords you have there, the better.

    Suppose your post is titled “37 Fantastic Tips for Web Marketing.”

    Including the words “37, fantastic and for on the URL would be useless since very few people would search for them. Secondly, it might also be counter productive since these words will dilute the value of the keywords.

  • Daniel Errante

    This is a great benefit of WordPress for human readers. I like platforms that are flexible.

    However, I have to disagree with using this feature if you are trying to keyword optimize your website. Although shorter URLs are better for humans, more descriptive and keyword optimized URLs, page titles, headlines, and body copy will lead to better search engine results.

    Source: Ed Dale – http://thirtydaychallenge.com

  • Vancouver Seo

    You’ve brought up excellent point. I’ve been blogging almost a year now, and always wondered what’s that function for. Great Post.

  • zparacha

    Neat. I didn’t know what that was for. Now thanks to you I know how useful this feature is. Thanks for the nice tip.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I generally use a short slug if it’s a post I know I’ll be linking to in the future a lot.

    Also, I’m told that WordPress now automatically includes a function to redirect a post if you change the slug, even after it’s published. If that’s not true, you can try the Redirection plugin by Urban Giraffe (under Manage — Redirection — Options, you can check a box to have it automatically issue a 301 redirect when you change a post slug; it can also take care of URL canonicalization and other redirect issues without playing with .htaccess).

  • Steven Bradley

    Most of the time I let the URL be the default slug, but I have used the slug to shorten a very long URL or to experiment a little with different keywords.

    I generally like to leave it matching the post title in case someone remembers the title, but is having a hard time finding the post. If they’ve been to my blog enough they can probably figure out the URL. I doubt it happens that often, but it’s been my rationale for letting the post slug match the post title.

    It’s still nice to be able to change the post slug when you want.

  • Matt Wolfe

    I didn’t know about this little trick. I definitely am going to start using this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lori

    You know, I use this on pages but never have on posts. Now I know!

  • Vikram

    Well, I have seen it every-time before posting, but actually haven’t really noticed what this feature is about!

    Wow, Now The longer urls can be well managed! And if used wisely we can just create a good amount of curiousness and get people to visit the post! Good one! 🙂

  • Tejvan Pettinger

    There are many advantages of choosing a short url. Urls can often get broken in emails and message forums. Being able to stipulate url, means you can choose a really long title without worrying

  • Ashfame

    Yes, thats indeed a great feature. But be careful for changing post slug for older posts or else links to them will return a 404 error. I will be using it for future posts from now on.

  • Paula

    This is so cool, Daniel.

    I didn’t even know what that was for. I love WordPress.

    Now I can stop writing goofy headlines and use that post slug thingee.

    Thanks for the great tips,
    Paula

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