Stop words are word that search engines may ignore when you search. For example words like the, in, or a. These stop words, and common prepositions, conjunctions, or pronouns are often ignored by search engines like Google.
Here’s the problem:
Google doesn’t always ignore stop words. And if you don’t understand how to use SEO stop words in your content, it can significantly impact your SEO.
In this blog, I will teach you everything you need to know about Google stop words and how to use them correctly for SEO.
What Will I Learn?
Google stop words (also called “SEO stop words”) are the small joining words that make keywords sound more natural.
They are usually articles, prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns.
Examples of Google stop words include:
The idea behind SEO stop words is that they are basically just fluff. They don’t add anything to the content or affect the keyword being searched.
Stop words are just there to make the phrase grammatically correct and sound better.
Google will ignore stop words most of the time.
But sometimes, they will take the stop word into consideration. You need to understand when it’s important to exclude stop words for your own SEO.
Most of the time Google won’t bother with stop words.
If you pay attention when you use Google, you will see that many SEO titles include stop words even though you didn’t use the stop word in your search.
Why does Google ignore stop words?
Two words – User experience.
If you know anything about Google, you will know that they value user experience above almost everything else.
Even though a keyword search might not include a stop word, it won’t sound natural if you don’t have the stop word in your content.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you want to create a piece of content about the best pizza restaurants in London.
You start doing keyword research and realise that the keyword with the highest search volume is simply “best pizza london”.
Here’s the problem:
Using that exact match keyword in your content would sound unnatural. You are far more likely to use “best pizza in london”.
But the keyword people type into Google doesn’t include “in”.
In this case, the Google stop word = “in”.
Google is likely to ignore this word because they understand that your content is about the best pizza in London, even though most people do include the word “in” when they search.
They would rather you sound natural than trying to add the exact match keyword.
Google ignores stop words to bridge the gap between what a user searches for and the content that sounds natural when you read it.
In other words – Google ignoring stop words benefits both:
But does Google always ignore stop words?
There are some searches where the stop word helps understand the context of the search. Meaning?
The searcher’s intent of the search queries is different if you add or remove the stop word.
Think about the movie – The Matrix
Because the movie’s title contains a stop word (the), it is essential to the context of the search. People who search for the keyword “matrix” may not be looking for the movie – The Matrix.
In the example, the stop word adds lots of context to the search, so Google will take it into consideration for rankings.
Now for the most important part of understanding Google stop words. If you don’t remember anything else, pay attention to this next section.
When should you include or exclude stop words?
Here are the best practices for stop words in SEO.
Stop words in URLs have been a hot topic amongst SEO experts for years.
Google and humans love URLs that are-
However, it’s normal for a CMS like WordPress to use the page title as the URL by default which ends up creating long URLs that are bad for SEO.
So, make sure to check your URL before publishing your content. URLs should only be 3-5 words maximum. The shorter, the better.
Including stop words in your URLs also makes them longer and harder to remember.
Plus, the stop words in a URL won’t add any SEO value because they are usually ignored by search engines.
Exclude stop words from URLs and keep them as short as possible.
If you do a quick Google search…
You’ll see lots of websites in the search results excluding stop words from their page title tags and headings. They do this to get an exact match of the target keyword.
Here’s the problem:
Removing the stop word from your title tag makes it awkward to read. It also negatively affects the user experience.
I recently did this with one of my recent blog posts – Submit URL To Google.
The keyword for the blog post is “Submit URL To Google”, but in the blog’s title, I added “Submit Your URL To Google” because it sounds more natural.
“Your” in this example is the Google stop word.
I still rank comfortably on the first page for this keyword and get a good amount of traffic.
This one is as easy as it gets.
This makes the sentence sound more natural and will help you avoid the trap of looking like you are keyword stuffing.
Even if you manage to rank higher in Google without the stop words…
This alone is why you should add SEO stop words in your content.
Always ensure that your content uses natural language and flows well.
No list has every single stop word on it.
But to give you an idea of common Google stop words, I have compiled a list below over 150+ SEO stop words.
Use this as a reference if you are not sure about a Google stop word in the future.
Now you understand:
Ignore the old advice to remove Google stop words from your page titles and headings.
But ensure that you do remove them from your URLs so that you can keep them short and have the exact match URL.