The debate on whether to use -or not- SEO stop words (Google stop words) seems never to end.
Some people claim that they may hurt your SEO strategy, while others say they are unavoidable.
Today you will learn what are stop words in SEO and how you can use them to your advantage.
Let’s get started!
1. What are stop words in SEO?
Google stop words, also called SEO stop words, are those words which tend to be partially or entirely ignored by search engines. Some examples are: the, an, a, of, or, many, etc. (Tip: full list at the end of the post!)
Statistics show that they are more or less the 25% of blog posts around the internet, but they don’t necessarily have anything to do with the content.
Search engines often ignore SEO stop words, in both search queries and results.
In fact, there is an actual list of stop words that are filtered out during a search, this to optimize some other aspects of the search.
From Google’s perspective, stop words are basically fluff that does not influence the search results being displayed.
2. Are SEO stop words harmful?
There are many SEO stop words in a search, or in thousands of them at a time, may cause lags in load times, and also a level of ambiguity in the search results, all of it resulting in wrong information being showed up.
By eliminating stop words from their databases, Google is able to provide even faster and accurate search results for their users.
For example, if a person runs a search for “a carpenter in New Jersey,” the words “a” and “in” do not change the meaning of the rest of the words typed, so Google would leave them out and provide “carpenter New Jersey” results instead.
Some users type complete sentences like “What is the best bakery in London?”. After the algorithms filter the unnecessary words, Google shows “best bakery London” search results instead.
Google still provides the expected results, but without putting in as much work to generate them for the user.
3. Result pages and Google stop words
Yes, it seems like we are talking about a person, but this is something that may cause many problems to search engines at the moment of ranking a page, or also ambiguity in the search, server load problems, among others.
When users avoid stop words the filtering time is minimal delivering instant results.
One good example of this could be a blog ranking for the keyword, “what is meant by organic search” then it would also rank for “what is organic search” as the blogger might expect. Here, the stop word is “is meant by.”
The SERP comes up faster, saving a lot of time when ignoring these beautifying stop words.
4. When SEO stop words DO count?
Sometimes stop words are making phrases or sentences different.
In such cases, Google’s algorithm is smart enough to consider them, interpreting the meaning of the search query by looking at the words along the main keyword.
As complicated as it may sound is as simple as this: take a look at this two elements that may be searched by a user: “Matrix” and “The Matrix.”
One is a math concept, and the other is an epic movie.
In this example, the word “the” is the stop word. In the search results, the algorithm would consider the stop word because without it the meaning would be completely different.
Now comes the serious part….
5. Stop words according to the experts
When you write for SEO, most experts suggest that it is better to remove SEO stop words from the URL.
Even the widely popular Yoast plugin (the best WordPress SEO plugin) follow this affirmation. They often suggest that including Google stop words might have an undesired effect in rankings, as well as making the URL much longer, and hence more difficult to remember.
Would Google stop words hurt SEO? That is not entirely true. Any good search engine has the purpose of enhancing the users’ experience, and filtering out stop words could, in a huge percentage, spoil the users’ experience.
Stop words are necessary to be grammatically correct and add further meaning to sentences.
Search engines today are becoming smarter discouraging the idea that SEO stop words are completely bad when actually avoiding them completely would be unnatural and bad for the pages and users.
Stop words do not hurt SEO, their excessive usage does.
Make a good use of general words and keywords for any site, using stop words limitedly and only when necessary, that may count as the best practice in SEO, as far as Google is concerned.
Bonus: SEO stop words list (July 2020)
Here’s the full list of Google stop words:
a about above after again against all am an and any are as at be because been before being below between both but by could did do does doing down during each few for from further had has have having he he'd he'll he's her here here's hers herself him himself his how how's i i'd i'll i'm i've if in into is it it's its itself let's me more most my myself nor of on once only or other ought our ours ourselves out over own same she she'd she'll she's should so some such than that that's the their theirs them themselves then there there's these they they'd they'll they're they've this those through to too under until up very was we we'd we'll we're we've were what what's when when's where where's which while who who's whom why why's with would you you'd you'll you're you've your yours yourself yourselves