What is a URL Slug? (and How to Use Them Effectively)

Links are an effective way to bring new traffic to your website. However, longer or un-optimized links may prevent people from clicking through, as they can appear untrustworthy. These URLs also tend to lack descriptive information about the contents of the link, which can negatively affect your search engine rankings.

You can avoid these problems by customizing your URL slugs, which are the descriptive sections found at the very end of your links. Optimized slugs look neater, and are often better at attracting attention from your audience. They’re also more likely to be clicked on, as they contain more useful information.

In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of URL slugs and show you how to customize them using Pretty Links. Finally, we’ll share two tips for using your optimized links effectively, both on and off your website. Let’s get started!

What is a URL Slug?

An example of an optimized URL slug

Above, you can see a Pretty Links URL and slug. A slug is the part that comes at the very end of a URL and refers to a specific page or post. For example, the slug for the URL above (https://prettylinks.com/2017/08/link-redirect-types/) is link-redirect-types.

Keeping your slugs concise and descriptive is beneficial in many ways. For example, an optimized slug can:

  • Improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Make it easy for internet users to predict the content of the page being linked to.
  • Attract your target audience because your links look more appealing.

The slug is one of the most important parts of your pretty link. That's why it's so important that you know how to use them effectively.

Often, you'll find that the default slugs added to your links aren't very effective. For that reason, you may want to optimize your links by changing their slugs to something shorter and more descriptive. With Pretty Links, you can do just that.

Once you’ve installed and activated Pretty Links on your website, go to the Pretty Links tab in your WordPress dashboard, and click Add Pretty Link at the top of the page.

Before you add a customized slug, there are a few other choices to make. For example, you'll want to choose a redirection type and enter your Target URL (the original URL, which you’d like to replace with your new pretty link):

The Pretty Links Add New Link page.

Finally, enter your custom slug in the Pretty Link field. What you enter here will depend on the purpose of the link. When you save your changes, your new link will be good to go!

Before we wrap up, let's look at a few tips for creating slugs that fit your purposes.

How to Create Effective URL Slugs (2 Key Tips)

When you choose a slug for your URL, there are a few strategies you’ll want to keep in mind. By following these two tips, you can ensure that your slugs are as effective as possible.

1. Keep Your URL Slugs Short

An example of a URL slug from Neil Patel's blog

Short slugs, such as those seen on Neil Patel's blog, make it easy for users to know what the links (and their pages) are about.

You can create slugs of almost any length. However, it’s best to keep your slugs as short as possible, while still providing the information people need. By keeping your slugs brief, you make them easier to remember. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, this technique can benefit your search engine optimization (SEO).

Of course, what counts as short can be subjective, which is why we’ve created a few guidelines to help you out. For example, you'll want to:

  • Keep the length between three and five words. This is recommended by Matt Cutts of Google, as it’s the best length for full incorporation onto SERPs.
  • Avoid the use of “stop words”. These are filtered out by Google, so they make your slug longer without serving any purpose.

If you bear these tips in mind, you'll be able to create slugs that are better for both your users and search engines.

2. Incorporate Target Keywords

An example of a URL slug on Pretty Links blog
By using keywords as your slugs, you can increase SERP rankings.

Simply put, target keywords are phrases that attract visitors to your content. Incorporating keywords into your slugs will help place your site higher on SERPs. This can drive organic traffic to your site, which brings in qualified leads and provides you with a larger audience.

Keywords aren’t difficult to find, but it’s important to choose the right ones (i.e. those your audience is actually searching for). To get started, we recommend that you:

  • Perform careful keyword research. Using tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner, you can find out which keywords are ranking most highly for your audience. You can then make selections based on those results.
  • Use long-tail keywords. These help you to rank higher on SERPs, and they also more clearly describe what your content is all about.

If you’re unsure which keyword would be best for any particular post, you can use split testing. This is a technique that enables you to see how users respond to different links. The more effort you put into your keyword research and testing, the more effective your links will be.


Optimizing the links you use both on and off your website is important. This is especially true when it comes to URL slugs. By making a link's destination clear, you can make it more trustworthy, which increases the odds that your links will be clicked on. You're also likely to see an improvement in your site's SEO rankings.

In this post, we’ve shown you how to add custom URL slugs using Pretty Links. We’ve also shared two tips for creating the most effective slugs, including:

  1. Keep your URL slugs short.
  2. Incorporate target keywords.

Do you have any questions about optimizing your URL slugs or how Pretty Links can help? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Categories: Pretty Links
About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and staff writer.



    Bill Conrad

    March 2, 2018

    Excellent post. It helped me better understand "long slugs 3 to 5 words" and it is a good reference for your clients.

      John Hughes

      March 12, 2018

      Hi Bill. You're welcome. Glad you found it helpful.


    March 20, 2018

    me estoy registrando por que quiero aprender

    Marshall Pratt

    January 29, 2019

    Thank's John.....Nicely explained article....I'm just a bit Confused between URL's and Slug . This Article just blow my confusion away.

    John Hughes

    February 4, 2019

    Glad we could be of service, Marshall!

    Saksham Designs

    December 16, 2021

    Thank's John, I like your post about URL slugs