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What is a URL Slug?

A URL slug is a string of text, numbers, and symbols that come after the slash following a domain name and subdirectory.

An example of a URL slug

Per esempio, introduction-to-yoga is the slug in the URL below:

https://yourdomain.com/introduction-to-yoga/

Similarly, vanilla-cake-recipe is the slug in the URL below:

https://yourdomain.com/baked-foods/cakes/vanilla-cake-recipe

What is Not Considered a URL Slug

Some characters are not considered part of the URL slug even though they come after the forward slash following the domain name and subdirectory. These sets of characters could be:

  • URL parameters
  • Hash parameters

Parametri URL

URL parameters are characters used to pass additional information about a URL. They begin with a question mark ? and are not considered part of the URL slug.

An example of a URL slug with URL parameters

For example: https://yourdomain.com/products?category=yoga

  • prodotti is the URL slug
  • ?categoria=yoga is not part of the URL slug

Hash Parameters

Hash parameters are characters used to navigate to a specific location on a page. They begin with the pound # and are not considered part of the URL slug.

An example of a URL slug with hash parameters

For example: https://yourdomain.com/introduction-to-yoga/#best-yoga-poses

  • introduction-to-yoga is the URL slug
  • #best-yoga-poses is not part of the URL slug 

SEO Importance of a URL Slug

Bloggers love including keywords in their URLs since they believe it helps their search rankings. Google has confirmed this to be true. However, Google says URLs are a minor ranking factor.

Google’s Jon Mueller has even described URLs as overrated.

Jon has also clarified that Google uses the words in the URL as a “very, very lightweight factor” in SEO. The URL is most important when Google has yet to access its content. In this case, Google will use the URL to help them understand the content.

However, the URL becomes less important once Google crawls the page and understands its content. 

Google Best Practices for Creating URL

Google ha recommended some best practices bloggers should follow when creating URL slugs. We will now address them below. 

Use Simple Descriptive URL Slugs

Include simple, descriptive words that are easy to read in your URL slugs. Your reader should be able to understand the webpage’s intent from the slug.

An example of a descriptive URL slug

For example, this URL slug contains complex words that are not simple, descriptive, or easy to read:

https://yourdomain.com/yoga-for-beginners-benefits-disadvantages-step-by-step

Meanwhile, this URL has a simple, descriptive, and easy-to-read slug:

 https://yourdomain.com/yoga-poses-for-beginners

Use Intelligible URL Slugs

Your URLs must be intelligible to your audience. Your human visitors should be able to read and make sense of it.

An example on an intelligible URL slug

So, stay away from URL slugs like: 

https://yourdomain.com/85389-2

Instead, use intelligible URLs like:

https://yourdomain.com/best-yoga-poses

Include Localized Words in Your URLs

Include localized words in your URLs where applicable.

Localized words are words used by your visitors. This could be words from their language or words unique to their region or culture.

An example of a URL slug containing localized words

For example, an article written in French and targeted at a French audience should not have an English URL slug like the one below:

https://yourdomain.com/best-yoga-poses

Instead, the article should have a French URL like the one below. (“Best yoga poses” translates to “meilleures pose yoga” in French.) 

https://yourdomain.com/meilleures-pose-yoga

Separate Words in Your URL With Hyphens

Separate the words in your URL and URL slug with a hyphen -. Hyphens are the most commonly used URL separators and are easily understood by humans and search engines. 

An example of a URL slug containing hyphens

So, do not join words together in your URLs. For example:

https://yourdomain.com/bestyogaposes

Do not use underscores in your URL slugs, either:

https://yourdomain.com/best_yoga_poses

Instead, use hyphens to separate the words in your URL.

https://yourdomain.com/best-yoga-poses

Use the Same Letter Case

URLs can be case-sensitive. So, https://yourdomain.com/Contact e https://yourdomain.com/contact can point to different pages on the same site.

However, this is not always the case. If your URLs are not case-sensitive, Google recommends that you use either upper or lowercase letters so that it knows your URLs point to the same page.

Considering that lowercase URLs are more common, you should stick to lowercase letters for your URLs. So, avoid URL slugs that contain uppercase letters unless the URL is case-sensitive. 

An example of a URL slug with the same letter case

For example, do not use URLs like:

https://yourdomain.com/YOGA-FOR-BEGINNERS

Do not use URLs like:

https://yourdomain.com/Yoga-For-Beginners

Instead, use URLs like:

https://yourdomain.com/yoga-for-beginners

Use UTF-8 Encoding Where Applicable

Always use UTF-8 encoding for non-ASCII characters. This typically applies to URLs that contain:

  • Emojis
  • Umulauts
  • Non-ASCII characters

An UTF-8 encoded slug for a non-ASCII URL

So, do not use a URL that contains non-ASCII characters. For example, https://yourdomain.com/杂货

Instead, convert the non-ASCII character 杂货 (the Chinese word for “groceries”) using UTF-8 encoding. Then, use the UTF-8 encoded characters in the URL:

https://yourdomain.com/%E6%9D%82%E8%B4%A7

Similarly, do not use URLs containing umlauts. For example, https://yourdomain.com/épicerie

Umlauts are vowels with symbols above them. The opening character in épicerie (the French word for “grocery store”) is an umlaut. So, you will convert it using UTF-8 encoding before inserting it into the URL slug:

https://www.yourdomain.com/%C3%A9picerie

Similarly, do not use emojis in your URLs. For example, https://yourdomain.com/🛒

Instead, convert the emojis using the UTF-8 encoding before inserting it into your URL.

https://yourdomain.com/%F0%9F%9B%92

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