What are Stop Words?
While writing content, writers do not consider if a specific word will be considered or ignored by search engines. But major search engines like Google ignore particular words either fully or partially while indexing the content. The term “stop words” refers to the words that are ignored by search engines. Hence, stop words in SEO do not influence the search engine ranking or visibility of the content despite improving content readability.
According to Wikipedia,
‘In computing, stop words are words which are filtered out before or after processing of natural language data (text). Though “stop words” usually refers to the most common words in a language, there is no single universal list of stop words used by all natural language processing tools, and indeed not all tools even use such a list. Some tools specifically avoid removing these stop words to support phrase search.’
What are the Commonly Used Stop Words in SEO?
According to CSEO.com,
“Statistics show that stop words make up for more or less 25% of a blog post, although they don’t necessarily have anything to do with the content. Search engines often ignore SEO stop words, in both search queries and results.”
The stop words ignored by search engines can be commonly used articles, pronouns, prepositions, or conjunctions. We have prepared a commonly used SEO stop words list by gathering information from diverse online sources.
- a, about, actually, almost, also, although, always, am, an, and, any, are, as, at
- be, became, become, but, by
- can, could
- did, do, does
- each, either, else
- for, from, had, has, have, hence, how
- I, if, in, is, it, its
- may, maybe, me, might, mine, must, my, mine, must, my
- neither, nor, not, of
- oh, ok
- when, where, whereas, wherever, whenever, whether, which, while, who, whom, whoever, whose, why, will, with, within, without, would
- yes, yet, you, and your
How Do Search Engines Filter Stop Words?
The search engines maintain a list of phrases. Also, they update the list regularly. The list includes the phrases from which stop words must not be removed. The search engines refer to the database while delivering search results to decide whether to include or ignore stop words. They normally ignore the stop word when it does not alter the meaning of the search query or intent of the searcher. The advanced search algorithms used by Google these days deliver search results by understanding stop words in context.
Do Stop Words Impact Search Engine Ranking?
Many SEO professionals advise writers to avoid including too many stop words in the content. They avoid using stop words in the web page’s keywords, titles, and URL slugs with the intention to boost search engine visibility. Also, a widely used WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO automatically removes stop words from permalinks and post slugs. But the SEO professionals must implement some best practices instead of removing stop words.
Page Title and Headings:
When the writer removes stop words from page title and heading, the web page will look both unprofessional and spammy. Also, human readers will find it difficult to understand the nature of content as titles are one of the key components of a web page. The SEO professionals should not remove stop words from the page title. But they must replace the longer stop words with shorter stop words as the search engines often truncate longer titles on search result pages.
The keywords or key phrases become ambiguous without stop words. Sometimes the absence of stop words makes it difficult for the searchers to find more relevant information and content. For instance, a searcher cannot find information about flights when the keyword does not include to or from before London. That is why; the writers should not remove stop words from keywords.
According to Backlinko.com,
“We found a very slight correlation between URL length and rankings. Specifically, short URLs tend to have a slight ranking advantage over longer URLs.”
Also, the search engines do not consider stop words while assessing URL slugs. The SEO professionals can easily reduce the length of URLs by removing stop words.
Should Writers Remove Stop Words from Content?
While writing content, writers these days target both search engines and human readers. They can optimize the content for search engines by removing the stop words. But the human readers cannot understand the content clearly and precisely once the stop words are removed. Hence, the writers cannot keep the content readable and understandable without using stop words.
Also, stop words often help searchers to find more relevant and useful information. For instance, when a searcher searches “London”, the search engines will display information about the capital city of England. But the search engines will display information about London flights and airfare when the searcher searches “to London”. Hence, the writers should not affect the readability of content with the intention to boost the content’s search engine visibility.
Do Updated Search Algorithms Understand Contextual Stop Words?
As mentioned earlier, search engines ignore certain stop words fully and ignore certain stop words partially. But Google has updated its search algorithms to understand stop words in context. Google currently uses Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) model to process words based on their relation to other words in the same sentence.
According to Google,
“BERT models can therefore consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.”
That is why; the human readers and search engine bots cannot understand the content clearly when the writer does not use stop words. The BERT models make it easier for writers to convey information clearly and keep the content readable without focusing on removing the stop words in SEO.
The writers cannot present information and express ideas clearly without using commonly used stop words in SEO. The absence of stop words will make the content unclear and confusing. But the search engines ignore stop words either fully or partially while indexing and assessing the content. The BERT model used by Google enables the search engine bots to understand stop keywords in context. Hence, the writers can now focus on improving the value and readability of count without removing stop words.