Simple guide to WordPress Slugs and SEO


Posted on: August 10, 2020

Slug? Sounds gross. You might run into this term when working in the WordPress admin panel (and especially when optimizing your site’s SEO), but what does it actually mean? What are the best ways to utilize these slimy tags?

What is a slug on WordPress?

A WordPress slug is part of the URL for your website. This is the text that appears after your sites primary domain, and after a sub folder. So, for example, if the url is:

The slug for this would be “/cats”. In WordPress, these are automatically generated anytime you create a new post or page. 

If you are creating or customizing the name of a slug, make sure to avoid spaces. Slugs need to be one long string of characters, so instead of:

black and white cats

Do this:


This will keep your URL structure nice and clean and also help make the URL more readable.

How to set the slug in WordPress

First make sure that your permalink settings are set to optimize slugs. You can edit this in Settings > Permalinks. Scroll down to the section called “Common Settings”. Here you can choose how your URL is formatted.

The best thing you can do is to select an option that will include the title of the post or page you’re on.

Setting WordPress permalinks for slugs

Once your URLs are set, here’s how you can specify how your slugs are set up: 

On a Post or Page

Post and Page slugs in WordPress are set up while you create a new post. These are automatically made when you make a new post, but if you want to customize it, you can go to your post and find the Permalink field in sidebar, or simply click/hover on the title. 


A slug for a category is important because it will appear often in the URL. The slug for a category can be set by going to Posts > Categories (or Products > Categories if you’re editing products). When you visit the page for any post or product inside a category, the slug for the category will appear in the middle of the URL, like this:


By default, WordPress does not let you edit the slug for authors, since they can just use their username. If this is something you want to change, you’ll need a plugin, like this one for changing author slugs in WordPress

How to Optimize your Slugs for SEO

1. Simple

Making your slugs simple keeps your URL shorter. Shorter URLs are typically easier to remember, they look better, and are easier for search engines to understand what content is being presented on the page.

2. Relevant

Relevancy is extremely important with slugs in WordPress because it tells your readers what kind of content they can expect so they can find what they’re looking for quicker. The slug “black-cats” is better than “more-cats” because its more descriptive. Be sure to be specific with what kind of content is in each slug.

3. Target Keywords

Make sure to do your basic SEO research, then utilize the keywords you are targeting by putting them in the slug. This is great not only for category slugs, but post slugs especially. 

4. No Duplicates

Although the content on your site will probably lead to very similar slugs throughout, try not to duplicate any. This will help you organize your site better and keep things tidy. 

5. No Unnecessary Words

To help keep your slugs shorter, make sure to avoid unnecessary filler words. This includes: a, the, and, etc. You don’t need to include these in order for the slug to be descriptive, or for Google to understand the slug.

Final Tip: Avoid Redirects (If Possible)

Try to avoid changing the name of a slug after it’s published and established. After changing the name of a slug, WordPress will automatically create a redirect from the old URL to the new URL with the new slug name. This can quickly create a chain of redirects, which not only makes things really messy, but also confuses search engines and leads to lower rankings.

If you have to change the name of a slug, make sure to do a 301 redirect to direct users to the new content if they try to get to the old.

Have too many redirects? Here’s a great article from Moz on how to manage that.