Ask Yoast:

Bad slug for Arabic URLs

Today’s Ask Yoast will discuss a problem that may be familiar to you if your site is in a non-ASCII language, like Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and many other languages. You work hard to write good, SEO-friendly URLs, so people will click to your website. However, when your site is linked to or shared, for instance on social media, the slug doesn’t show the right characters. Instead, it changes into a long string of percent signs, capitals and numbers.

To give you an example: check out this link to an Arabic Wikipedia article on SEO. In the address bar, it looks good:

arabic URL in address bar

However, when I try to copy it into this post, it turns into this:

arabic URL copy-pasted

Of course, a slug like that looks weird and a bit unsettling: it doesn’t tempt people to click, and doesn’t reveal much about the content of a page either. So, if you come across this problem with your non-ASCII slugs, what are your options for dealing with this?

Ahmed Saad emailed us on this subject:

My site’s content is in Arabic and that means that the slug looks very bad when it’s shared on social media. Should I change the URL language to English so it looks better or does that hurt my SEO?

Watch the video or read the transcript for the answer!

Dealing with bad slugs for Arabic URLs

“I honestly don’t have a good answer to that because this slug is not good for your SEO either. This slug doesn’t really entice people to click. I guess that the best solution would be to get the shortest slug as possible in Arabic, because you can have i18n URLs. But support for that is not always as good across CMSes.

If that doesn’t work then you can certainly fall back to English, or to an English ‘way’ of writing your Arabic strings, which is something that a lot of Indian languages do. Good luck!”

Read more: How to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language »

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11 Responses to Bad slug for Arabic URLs

  1. Hasan AlAmine
    Hasan AlAmine  • 6 years ago

    Hello. actually this is not a solution ( using english charachters to write other languages ) and leads to decresing seo because that problem(bad slugs) does still remain in the xml sitemaps( tags; pages; posts urls) generated by yoast seo and misleads google and seo plans to get to the websites; that’s why there should be another solution!. Thank you

  2. jivansutra
    jivansutra  • 6 years ago

    Earlier when I had started blogging I faced the same problems so I opt to write urls in English. at that time search engines and social media platforms didn’t support languages with special characters. but today Google and other popular search engines, as well as social media sites, are capable of sharing non-english slug smartly. However I’m not sure whether Google and others are doing the pretty job for urls with special characters everywhere, but In India, for the Indian languages, there is no such url problem. Non-english URLs appear in search results and on social media headlines in our native language.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 6 years ago

      Hi jivansutra. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, support for special character languages is improving. Just keep in mind what you want to do with those URLs and who you are targeting.

  3. Sina
    Sina  • 6 years ago

    I have the same problem. My solution other than the ones that you mentioned is using post IDs instead of slugs with Perso-Arabic characters.
    But I would only suggest that if you write most of your posts in non-Latin alphabet languages. Otherwise, short links and latin transliterated slugs may work better.

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 6 years ago

      Hi Sina. Yeah, that’s one way to circumvent that. But by using the post ID your audience won’t know what’s behind that link. If you can, please use a readable slug.

  4. longman
    longman  • 6 years ago

    My language is in Persian and I always translate the slugs to English. It is much better for SEO.

  5. Brandon
    Brandon  • 6 years ago

    Finally got this post because i was having the same issues and finally found the solution here.
    Keep up the good work guys.


  6. Sajad
    Sajad  • 6 years ago

    The solution to this problem is very easy!
    First copy All URL except HTTP (or HTTPS) then type HTTP (or HTTPS) before that.
    Now, you have a clean URL

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 6 years ago

      Great tip, Sajad. Thanks!

  7. Laudine
    Laudine  • 6 years ago

    My slugs are all in Dutch so I think I have the same problem as the Arabic one…

    Did not know about that, thanks for the info!

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 6 years ago

      Hi Laudine. Well, if you have readable Dutch slugs and you’re aiming for the Dutch market that would be fine.

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