Organic search is the most reliable and long-term way to get people to visit your website, as long as you do well on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Even though many SEO factors, like who you’re competing with and what they do, are out of your hands, you can still benefit from on-page optimization, which you have full control over.
One of the best things you can do on a page is to optimize the URL slug for each page and post you make. It’s one of the SEO best practices that has actually stood the test of time, with little penguins and fuzzy but aggressive pandas not doing too much damage to it.
Let’s compare this to a physical address. If your website were a building with many offices, your domain would be the address where people can find the “building.” The slug would then be a box number or suite number that corresponds to a specific place in that complex.
Just like a box or suite number sends people to the right office in a building, a URL slug sends your browser to the right page on your site and makes it stand out from the rest on your domain.
URL Slug Example
Let’s take our URL for this post:
Here are the elements of this URL:
- Protocol: https
- Domain: newsdegree.com
- URL Slug: url-optimization
A URL is made up of at least two parts: the protocol and the domain. Depending on the page and where it is in your site’s structure, you may add other things to it.
In this case, it’s clear from the subdomain and subdirectory that you’re in the Marketing section of HubSpot’s blog. From there, you can tell what the Marketing section of HubSpot’s blog will be about: how to make URLs better for search engines. Search engines get it. Readers get it. It doesn’t look like spam. All good.
URL Slug Best Practices
1. Make It as Simple as Possible.
When it comes to SEO, where there is a lot of room for experimentation and theory, the search engine telling you exactly what it likes is the best thing that can happen. “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible,” says Google.
A shorter URL is also easier to remember, so if a visitor wants to come back to the content without saving it, they won’t have to look it up.
2. Take Out the Extra Words From the URL Slug’s Page Part.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, words like “and” and “that” that don’t add much or any meaning to the URL can be taken out to make it shorter and/or easier to read. Here’s what this post’s URL looked like before and after:
I took out “your” because it was too long and didn’t help readers or search engines in any way. I took out “quick tip” for the same reason, since most website visitors can tell from the title or description that it’s a quick tip.
I could have left out “for,” but I decided to leave it in because it makes the URL easier for people to read. If someone else finds this URL, I’d like it to be easy to read so they can understand what the page is about and feel like they can trust it.
I could have also used “url-slug” as the slug, but I didn’t. This would have been easier, but I wanted the URL to show readers how valuable the post is by telling them what they’ll learn from it.
3. Include Relevant Keywords.
The keywords in the URL can help people and search engines figure out what your page is about. Use keywords in your URL slug, but make sure they match what the page is about. Since this URL is a long-tail search term on its own, it’s already pretty well optimized.
4. Don’t Keyword Stuff.
Even though this article might be useful for a lot of different keywords, that doesn’t mean I should put them all in the URL. If you don’t, you end up with a mess like this:
Wow, that’s not pretty.
Stuffing your content, titles, and URLs with keywords is an old strategy that hurts your SEO and the user experience. Instead of cramming keywords into the slug, choose one keyword for the URL and let the rest of the conversation be driven by the content on the page.
5. Make It Reader-friendly.
We’ve talked about this before, but it’s important to say it again. Both readers and search engines should be able to look at your URL and know what they might find if they click on it. That means that if you add a lot of keywords and get rid of the little words that aren’t important, you should still have a URL that makes sense.
6. Use Hyphens to Break Up the Words.
Don’t try to squeeze a lot of words together or separate them with underscores. The hyphens are there to help make the sentence easier to read. Try them.
7. Don’t Use Slugs That Are Already Used by Other Pages.
Your office/home has only one address, and at that address, there is only one office/home. This also applies to your site.
Using the same or similar slugs can cause errors or make Google think that pages have the same content. Both of these things will hurt your SEO.
You could also change the settings in your CMS to make sure this doesn’t happen by accident.
8. Avoid Using Dynamically Generated URLs.
A dynamic URL has parameters that are created automatically when the page loads. This is different from a static URL, which always takes you to the same place.
Crawling problems can be caused by dynamic URLs, which will make the site perform badly.
9. Standardize the Way You Name Your URLs.
Set up a standard way to name URLs that you can use for all of the pages and posts you make. This will help you make your site’s experience more consistent and make it easier for people to find their way around.
Your URLs are an important part of on-page SEO, and you should think about them as you build the foundation of your site. By using the above best practices for URL slugs and optimizing pages according to more SEO rules, you’re one step closer to making your site more visible on Google and other search engines.