You must have been hearing SEO experts mentioning “stop words,” You keep wondering what they are, how they impact SEO, and whether you should use or ignore them.
Today, I will walk you through the impact of stop words in SEO, and how they can improve your rankings.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
What are Stop Words In SEO?
Stop words popularly known as “Google stop Words” are words that do not alter the meaning of a keyword or keyphrase. Your keyword is complete with or without them.
For example – If you search for “show me Dubai hotels,” search engines understand you want to see hotels in Dubai. Therefore, they will treat “show me” as stop words.
Stop words are many, these a few of them:
- Articles (a, an, the)
- Pronoun (you, her, him, me, I, ours, etc.)
- Conjunctions (Since, are, or, less, because, although, unless)
- And So On
Since stop words make up 25% of English Language, it has become a problem for search engines to understand how to treat them correctly.
Search engines like google normally filter stop words, but things have changed as they keep rolling in new algorithms (more about this later).
Stop Words are part of those Blogging Terms sparking arguments in the SEO World.
Are Stop Words Bad For SEO?
Gone are the days when “stop words” are awful for SEO; search engines now treat them more carefully because a single word can change the entire meaning of a search query.
For example, the search query “Queen” and “the queen” are perceived differently by search engines and will result in different results.
The first query will return a result of a rock band headed by Freddie Mercury, while the latter will lead to Queen Elizabeth II.
You saw how a single word “the” changed the whole thing? This is why stop words are not something you can ignore.
Sometimes, they form part of a keyword and must be treated as such.
So, You don’t need to pay more attention to eliminating stop words, just make sure they are a crucial part of the phrase.
Of course, if your keyword or sentence is complete without them, then remove them.
This is why Search engines like google step up their game; they now rely more on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand search queries; hence, stop words are super important.
Are Stop Words Always Ignored?
Search engines no longer ignore stop words; it all sums up to your search query. Adding a word to your search can affect the search intent.
So, Google understands stop word(s) by using the words around the main keywords.
Example – two users, one is searching for “matrix” while the other searching for “the matrix”.
Search engines are smart enough to understand that one person needs the math concept while the other one wants to read about the film.
On the other hand, Search Engines will treat “Guide to Wealthy Affiliate” and “Wealthy Affiliate Guide” as the same. That is because the word “to” adds no difference to the keyword.
Are Stop Words Bad In URLs?
You might have read that removing stop words from your URL is good, well, this might not be entirely true.
Even though it’s ideal to avoid unnecessary words that add no meaning to your URL, You must do it carefully.
Keep in mind that search engines’ only aim is to provide users with quality answers with excellent user experience. Hence, focus more on writing for human beings, not for SEO.
If you blog on WordPress, it’s easy to set your posts permalinks as “post name”, which is enough for search engines to understand what keywords you are targeting.
Since nobody knows how search engines are treating stop words in URLs, You should include them when necessary and vice versa.
Example: If your target keyword is “The best selling laptop”, You can tweak your URL to be yourdomain.com/best-selling-laptop/ – it’s unique that way.
It’s safe to remove the word “the” because it can’t alter the keyword’s intent.
But, If your target keyword is “Shoes in Canada”, you should leave your URL as ‘yourdomain.com/shoes-in-canada/” so it can be easy for readers to understand what your content is all about.
Stop Words And The Hummingbird Algorithm
Humminbird is an algorithm Google introduced in 2013. The algorithm is aimed at helping Google understand conversational queries; it’s all about natural language.
Since stop words make 25% of the English language, It’s impossible to form a complete sentence without using them.
So with Hummingbird, Google now takes severe words seriously. They know they can change search intent easily.
Google never stops to employ new means to improve user experience; they also roll out another algorithm called BERT, which is also aimed at enhancing user experience and proving the power of stop words.
Stop Words And The BERT Update
Google BERT update that was introduced in October 2019 is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing. It’s more like advanced natural language processing.
The algorithm (BERT) has been useful for understanding the effect of stop words. Here is an example of how BERT leverages stop words to understand search intent better.
If you search for “2019 Brazil traveler to USA needs Visa” before the BERT update, Google will understand it as US citizens traveling to brazil.
But with BERT, Google was able to understand that it’s a Brazilian traveling to the US. The stop word “to” played a vital role in that keyword. Imagine removing it from your URL; Google might assume your content is not the best answer to the search query.
Stop Voice And Voice Search
It isn’t brilliant to omit “stop words” when using voice search. How are you supposed to search “Hire Writer” instead of “Hire a Content Writer” ?.
Voice search is aimed at conversational queries, which means stop words are super important.
Nobody is so sure how google pulls off results for voice search, But it will be pretty safe to have your complete keyword in your URL because it might be among the ranking factors for voice search results.
I believed I had answered the question, what are stop words in SEO?
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2 thoughts on “What Are Stop Words In SEO? Are They Useful?”
You shared a piece of important information with us. The information is really very important and of a different type. Very useful information for me as a new blogger. Thank you very much for sharing this article.
Great guide Folajomi. Very useful stuff as newbies often get confused over this. I guess it’s because the’re human and don’t understand how machines “think” 🙂