The term “slug” is not an intuitive one, for me at least, and I can’t tell you how the name originated. But I can tell you what a WordPress slug is, and why it is important to the success of your blog.
The slug is simply the last part of the URL that is specific to a post or page in WordPress. For example, the full URL for this post is “http://quirkbrain.com/8532-what-is-a-wordpress-slug/” and the slug is “8532-what-is-a-wordpress-slug”.
You can easily adjust the settings for your slugs under permalink settings, which is located in the admin section of WordPress. The default settings for WordPress assigns the WordPress post number as the slug, but generally it is recommended that this be changed, for a few different reasons that I will explain.
Use keywords in your slug
It is generally accepted that it is best to use slugs that contain the keywords for the post, rather than an arbitrary number such as the post number. This is because both humans and search engines use the slug in order to get information about the content of the post.
It is more important for search engines, in my opinion, because it is believed that the slug plays a small part in the search algorithms of many search engines, including Google. People will sometimes scan the slug in the search results, as well, and this could affect whether or not they click on your link.
It is hotly debated by SEO experts exactly how much of an influence the slug has on search engine rankings, but in my experience and opinion the effect is minimal. I’ve used all different kinds of formats for my slugs, and haven’t noticed much difference.
Most blogs today simply use the title of the post as their slug, with dashes separating the words instead of spaces, of course. Many people prefer to remove the “stop words”, which are the prepositions and shorter words that do not contain keywords, from the slug.
In my opinion, it doesn’t make much difference whether you remove stop words are not. Many very reputable sites do and others don’t. If you would like to, there are several free plugins available which will automatically remove the stop words from your slug. Some people prefer the cleaner look up a short slug.
Should a WordPress slug have numbers ?
You will notice that the slugs for my blog, in addition to containing the blog title, also have an individual number at the beginning of the slug. I do this because, in my opinion, it helps reduce load on the server when a blog contains many thousands of posts. A specific digit at the beginning of the slug makes it easier for the server to locate the targeted page in the database. That is my belief anyway.
So, that is what WordPress slug is. It is not the most critical aspect of SEO for your blog, but it is definitely something you should put consideration into when you are initially setting up WordPress. It may make a small difference in search engine rankings and click through rates for your blog posts.