No doubt slug had its usage in driving SEO traffic. But in the Internet world dominated by Twitters & Facebooks, is slug still a necessary feature?
I'm pondering this question as I develop 123-check, which, I hope, will have all the checklists at one place.
Let me tell you why I think slug is not necessary.
To start with, implementing a slug has an overhead.
First the overhead of programming it. In a framework like Django or Wordpress (yes, Wordpress is no more just a blog engine), enabling this feature may be just a matter of few lines of code or few clicks to install a plug-in. But if you program in web2py, it is not an out-of-the-box option. You need to spend time developing it.
Secondly, there is an ongoing overhead of translating the title (or whatever else you convert) to a slug and then later, searching through a db with a slug (a text field search, so it's slower than an id match). This wouldn't matter much in most environments but in Google AppEngine (where I host 123-check), it matters.
I would pick up the overhead if it helps. But I am more than convinced that there is no reason to implement it any more.
Let's look at how you land at a web page. For convenience let's limit to content pages (which is what 123-check is) and leave out corporate informational pages.
The fastest way to reach a web page is via bookmarking. May be you bookmark 123-check because you know, you can find all the checklists in a single portal (and if you have not bookmarked it, go ahead and do it now. I will wait).
But there are times you search. I have not used Bing much, but Google sorts by +s & general popularity. Recently it also shows if someone from your circle shared or +ed a result. So you go ahead & click a result thrown to you by Google.
Wait, did you look at the URL of the web page? I bet you didn't. Most of us don't.
There is still another way you land on a web page, which is through activity stream of Twitter, Facebook. Ironically, you don't even know the domain of the link you click because mostly its bit.ly or something similar.
Ok so the slug is not used by humans. May be its for machines! But let's look at some of the players in the ‘content' field.
Twitter gives a pretty URL to my profile page. So do LinkedIn & Facebook. But on GPlus, I'm just a number. Now that might surprise a lot of people.
What? The grand-daddy of SEO doesn't have a pretty url in its social media site?
So if Google doesn't go with slug why should you?