This is a guest post by Sean Si.
When I say slugs, I do not mean the distant, unshelled cousins of snails.
In the internet, slugs are the URL-friendly version of your permalink.
See the URL of this webpage? That’s easily called a slug.
(Note from Ana: the URL of this post is “http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/url-slugs-important-seo-factor/”, where “url-slugs-important-seo-factor/” part is the slug)
Slugs Affect your Rank
Slugs are the first thing read by search engines. That should already give you an idea of how important they are.
Notice how Ana does it. She’s mindful of her slugs in a way that is always consistent with the topic and the post title.
URLs hold a specific weight in your search engine rankings and are also a key to your article’s keyword presence. Just as the title tag is important in on-site optimization, so are slugs – especially because people also look at the slugs in the search result snippet.
Slugs Affect People’s Attention
Notice how Google highlights the queried keywords in a website slug as it displays the search result snippet?
So when we talk about slugs, it’s not all about your site SEO.
It’s also about how well you entice the searchers to click on your link.
Do you think people will click your site when, for example, they’re looking for an article about ‘Different Kinds of Keywords’ and your URL slug says ‘how-to-babysit-a-20-year-old’ ?
Optimizing your slugs
In trying to optimize your slugs to achieve a better search engine friendly URL, you only have to remember two things:
- Make sure your keywords are present
- Take away the stop words – these are the words: I, a, about, an, are, as, at, be, by, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, this, to, was, what, when, where, who, will, with, the
The reason behind taking away the stop words is that the search engines do away with them anyway. In cleaning your slugs from stop words, you’re doing the search engines a favor. My advice (if you’re a WordPress user) is to download and install the SEO Slugs plugin to automatically clean your slugs from stop words for you.
Slugs ain’t rocket science
Changing your slugs to a better, keyword-packed, eye-catching version is not exactly a piece of cake, but it ain’t rocket science either. In WordPress (I’m assuming most of the readers of Ana’s blog are WordPress users) you simply click on the ‘edit’ button right below the text area where you put your title.
If you are not using WordPress and perhaps have your own static website, it’s easy as changing the filename of your webpage and making sure it’s in-line with what the content of that page.
One last thing: never ever forget that it’s called ‘slugs’, not ‘snails’ okay? 🙂
Tips for Keeps: Always, always be mindful of your slugs. It could be the only difference why your competitor is ranking one place higher than you.
Sean Si is an obsessive compulsive slugger and an SEO Marketing enthusiast. He talks more about slugs in his up-coming free, 28-lesson basic SEO course, which starts this December 1, 2010. Enroll before slots run out!