Most of the time, search engines ignore stop words.
Not a single sentence, that a human will love to read, can be written without using the stop words like a, the, of, are, can, etc. But if you understand how search engines deal with the stop words, you can sure use them to your advantage while doing SEO.
In this short article, I will quickly explain how you can use stop words for better.
Understanding the stop words
Stop words can be pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles, etc. that we regularly use in our daily lives.
There can be some stop phrases too, for example, “tell me” in the “tell me the current time in London” search query would be a stop phrase.
In short, here’s the thing:
Generally, stop words from the search queries are omitted by the search engines and to optimize your webpage, you need to eliminate those words. Wait… without stop words, the page will be unreadable for the users, there can’t be an article.
But… the goal is to optimize (or rather reduce) the use of stop words from the page title, URL, headings, etc. as long as it feels natural to the users because users should be the main focus of all kinds of SEO practices.
Here’s an old article by Bill Slawski to understand Google’s stop words.
Best stop words practices for SEO
Here are some practices that you may benefit from:
- Remove the stop words from the page title as long as it is readable and feels natural to the users
- Optimize the usage of stop words in the headings and sub-headings (h2, h3, etc.)
- Always remove the stop words from the page URL slug, the shorter the better
The first 2 suggestions might not be suitable in different cases, but the 3rd one is suitable in almost all the cases. You must have heard the SEO advice of keeping the URLs short, removing the stop words from them definitely helps.
To give you an example, you’re writing an article on “What are the goals of SEO?” so instead of keeping your URL slug as
site.com/what-are-the-goals-of-seo/, you can make it as
And, you need to pay special attention when you’re dealing with lots of pages on the site, for example, when you’re creating pages in bulk using Programmatic SEO.
Stop words list
You must understand 2 things: one, the shorter URLs are better, and two, Google shows 50-60 characters long titles in the search results. Now, you can’t let these stop words take all the limelight and hide the main keywords.
Lastly, my advice would be: to aim to reduce the stop words only from the title and URL. Apart from that, it’s not a big deal.
If you have a related query, feel free to let me know in the comments below.