What are ‘stop’ words?

“Stop” words are words that can negatively affect a firm’s SEO efforts. Words that don’t add any value to a page, such as “of”, “or” and “the” interfere with SEO because they use up valuable character space. The majority of search engines don’t consider these extremely common words in order to speed up search results or save disk space.

For example, when searching for “the accounting firm” a search engine has to make three ‘runs’ to find matches. It looks for matches of “the”, “accounting” and “firm”. Simply looking for the last two words is enough to find relevant pages. Therefore, to save time and disk space, the search engine excludes searching for “the”.

Not including stop words in web page titles is especially important. Page titles should be kept short and concise since search engines like Google do not read any more than 65-70 characters (including spaces). When creating content for a blog or website, firms must also be careful to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’.

Examples of keyword stuffing include:

  1. Lists of phone numbers with no substantial value
  2. Blocks of text listing cities and states
  3. Repeating words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural

Less is often more when it comes to using keywords, so strategically using them every so often in your firm’s content is an appropriate approach to take.

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