From blog titles to URL slugs, you may not realize how often you use SEO stop words. But to be fair, if Google isn’t paying them a lot of attention, why should you?
Research shows that 25% of blog posts are made up of stop words. However, these words have little to no relevance to the topic of the post. These are words that you can use to compose sentences and connect ideas together. They don’t have much of an impact on Google’s search results.
However, excessive use of stopwords can have a long-term impact on your brand. They make content more difficult for search engines to process, which can have a negative impact on the indexing of your pages.
In this post, you will learn exactly what SEO stop words are, how they can affect or help your online presence, and which words are considered stop words by Google and other search engines.
What are stop words in SEO?
We use stop words all the time, whether we are online or in our daily life. These are the articles, prepositions, and phrases that connect keywords together and help us form complete, coherent sentences.
Common words like its, an, the, for, and that are all considered stop words. While they are important for verbal communication, stop words usually have little meaning in SEO and are often ignored by search engines.
Let’s review some of the most common stop words in the section below.
Common SEO stop words
The most common SEO stop words are pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. This includes words like a, an, the and it for or, but in my, your, our and its.
When people search for something online, search engines like Google leave those words out of their results because they don’t relate to the keywords in the search. Instead of looking for content related to these words, Google removes them completely and prioritizes the keywords.
So the next time you’re trying to hit a word count while writing a blog post, fill that open area with keywords rather than a filler copy that won’t improve your SEO.
While it would be great to load your content with only meaningful keywords, the reality is that any type of copy requires stop words. Even if you rank high on Google, it doesn’t mean much if your content is incomprehensible or doesn’t resonate with your audience.
Are Stop Words Beneficial for SEO?
There’s a time and a place for SEO stop words. First and foremost, stop words help the reader understand the content. It can be confusing to read titles and subheadings without stop words.
You may also find cases where stopwords help you differentiate between two topics. For example, you can search for “flamingos” and see information about beautiful, bright pink birds. If you add “the” to the front, you will be taken to YouTube to listen to the band “The Flamingos”. That tiny three-letter stop word makes a huge difference in this case.
In the next section, let’s look at some other times when you should be careful about stopping words to help optimize your content’s search ranking.
Remove stop words
Should you remove stop words from all of your content?
Like everything else, it depends on how you use them. If your titles, headings, url slugs, and keywords make sense without them, removing them can help.
SEO stop words in titles
If your titles don’t make sense as you pull out these articles or prepositions, it’s best to leave them where they are. After all, you want your audience to actually click and read your content. If the key parts – including the title – don’t make sense, the website may be classified as unprofessional or even spam.
It usually makes the most sense to leave stop words in titles and headings as these are landmark elements for users to navigate your content. Remember that the optimal number of characters for titles is between 50 and 60 characters, as search engines will truncate longer titles, which may leave out important information for the visitor. If your title has long stop words, rewrite them to balance brevity and clarity.
Stops words in url slugs
When it comes to URL slugs, stop words usually don’t mean much in SEO. However, they are relevant if they make your URL extra long. Google ranks URLs by length, and longer URLs are usually lower than shorter ones – as shown in the following table.
Stop words as keywords
As we discussed in the last section, there are a few times when stopwords are critical to indexing because they distinguish one proper name from something else. For example, if you did a search for “Jets New York”, you might get a list of flights to and from New York City. However, if you search for “The New York Jets” you will get content about the professional soccer team instead.
Now that we know what stopwords are and when to use them, let’s take a look at a broader list of stopwords to keep in mind when creating and optimizing content.
75 stop words in SEO
There are many, many more stop words out there, but here is a list of the most common stop words to keep in mind when creating content online.
Using SEO Stopwords
SEO stop words are important when developing a strong SEO strategy and wanting to rank high on search engines like Google. Overuse can hurt your ranking, but avoiding it altogether will leave your content confusing and unclear. Understanding what stop words are and what words are considered stop words can help you create content that works to benefit your brand.
For more ways to rank higher on search engines, check out these SEO tips.