What Are Stop Words In SEO?

Jake Sheridan
Jun 15
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Keyword research is an essential component of any SEO strategy, and focusing on the exact words your target audience use in search engines will boost your organic traffic.

However, there are also several commonly used words that search engines will ignore – both in search queries and search results. These are known as ‘stop words’.

In this article, you’ll learn what stop words are, how they impact search engines, and what you should do with stop words in your content.

What Are Stop Words In SEO

Stop words are commonly used terms, typically articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns, that SEO experts theorize search engines may ignore.

First suggested by Hans Peter Lugn, stop words are words such as ‘the’, ‘in’, or ‘a’. It is believed that search engines might ignore these words in an attempt to save storage space and to speed up the process of analyzing and indexing websites and web pages.

Having an internal list of stop words can help search engines speed up information retrieval and figure out what a website is about. Focus keywords play a significant factor in this, as search engine algorithms are designed to identify the subject and nature of the content on a web page using focus keywords.

Why are Stop Words Important?

Stop words are important in SEO in that they can help search engines reduce storage space and increase indexing speed.

Some SEO experts have speculated that writing content with a reduced number of common stop words can help a search engine index a site faster and more favourably, but in our opinion, this is not the case.

It’s important to remember how these SEO stop words can change the contextual meaning of our speech and writing, as Dawn Anderson points out:

So while it’s important to have an understanding of what stop words are as an SEO expert, the best practice is to let the search engines sift through your content and decide the stop words – do not compromise your content, context, or reader flow for the sake of eliminating stop words.

With this in mind, we must remember that the primary goal of creating high-quality content is to create engaging material that is second to none in readability. This provides a valuable user experience that keeps your site traffic onsite for an extended period of time, signifying value in your content.

For more detail in SEO writing tips, look at our comprehensive guide here.

Stop Words FAQ

What are examples of stop words?

We we have mentioned, stop words are common words used in most sentences and include articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns. While there is no exhaustive, comprehensive list of Google stop words, here is a list of well-known stop words (from SEMrush):

  • A
  • About
  • Above
  • Actually
  • After
  • Again
  • Against
  • All
  • Almost
  • Also
  • Although
  • Always
  • Am
  • An
  • And
  • Any 
  • Are
  • As
  • At

B

  • Be
  • Became
  • Become
  • Because
  • Been
  • Before
  • Being
  • Below
  • Between
  • Both
  • But
  • By

C

  • Can
  • Could

D

  • Did
  • Do
  • Does
  • Doing
  • Down
  • During

E

  • Each
  • Either
  • Else

F

  • Few
  • For
  • From
  • Further

H

  • Had
  • Has
  • Have
  • Having
  • He
  • He’d
  • He’ll
  • Hence
  • He;s
  • Her
  • Here
  • Here’s
  • Hers
  • Herself
  • Him
  • Himself
  • His
  • How
  • How’s

I

  • I’d
  • I’ll
  • I’m
  • I’ve
  • If
  • In
  • Into
  • Is
  • It
  • It’s
  • Its
  • Itself

J

  • Just

L

  • Let’s

M

  • May
  • Maybe
  • Me
  • Might
  • Mine
  • More
  • Most
  • Must
  • My
  • Myself

N

  • Neither
  • Nor
  • Not

O

  • Of
  • Oh
  • On
  • Once
  • Only
  • Ok
  • Or
  • Other
  • Ought
  • Our
  • Ours
  • Ourselves
  • Out
  • Over own

S

  • Same
  • She
  • She’d she’ll
  • She’s
  • Should
  • So
  • Some
  • Such

T

  • Than 
  • That 
  • That’s 
  • The
  • Their
  • Theirs
  • Them
  • Themselves
  • Then
  • There
  • There’s
  • These
  • They
  • They’d
  • They’ll
  • They’re
  • They’ve
  • This
  • Those
  • Through
  • To
  • Too

U

  • Under
  • Until
  • Up

V

  • Very

W

  • Was
  • We
  • We’d
  • We’ll
  • We’re
  • We’ve
  • Were
  • What
  • What’s
  • When
  • Whenever
  • When’s
  • Where
  • Whereas
  • Wherever
  • Where’s
  • Whether
  • Which
  • While
  • Who
  • Whoever
  • Who’s
  • Whose
  • Whom
  • Why
  • Why’s
  • Will
  • With
  • Within
  • Would

Y

  • Yes
  • Yet
  • You
  • You’d
  • You’ll
  • You’re
  • You’ve
  • Your
  • Yours
  • Yourself
  • yourselves

Why do we remove stop words?

Search engines remove stop words from their search as a way to speed up site indexing. Furthermore, when creating URL titles and slugs, it can be beneficial to remove stop words to help search engines and readers immediately get the gist of what the web page is about:

However, only do this if the context of your page doesn’t get lost. Particularly if your writing SEO content for local SEO, include stop words such as:

  •  “Plumbing services in Ontario”

Do stop words affect SEO?

Stop words will only affect your SEO if you attempt to write material that omits these stop words. Ensure you write as clearly as possible so that readers have a good on-page user experience, and you’ll see a boost in your SEO efforts in no time.

Summary

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of stop words and how to write SEO material.

What we stress is that while understanding stop words and how search engines treat them, do not compromise the quality of your content by trying to omit stop words yourself.

If you’re unsure about writing SEO content, reach out to us at Loganix and we can offer advice on how to create the best content for your business that will attract thousands more websites visitors and customers.

Written by Jake Sheridan on June 15, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.