What are Stop words and How Google Treats Them?
Stop words are some words, which are partially or completely ignored by search engines.Words like, the, an, a, of, or, many, etc. Constitutes about 25% of the blog posts around the web. They have nothing to do with the content. Search engines, in both search queries and in results, often ignore them.
Search engines do maintain a list of Google stop words - (Credits: Ranks.nl: Stopwords) that are ignored or filtered out.
Why search engines including Google ignore stop words?
They often cause many problems to search engines like ambiguity, server load problems, etc. It also helps search engines deliver instant results. If these words have nothing to do with the retrieval of the results, then it does make sense to filter out stop words from search queries and results.
If a blog post @ example.com/stop-words is ranking for the keyword, “what is meant by stop word” then it would also rank for “what is stop word” as you might expect. The stop word here is “is meant by”. Search engines, save a lot of time by ignoring these beautifying stop words.
When will search engines consider stop words as meaningful?
When there is a difference in meaning when stop words are filtered out, then stop words are considered.
The search engine interprets the meaning of the search query by looking at the words along the main keyword.
Consider the example search query,
Matrix: Math concept.
The Matrix: Movie.
In here, “the” is the stop word. Google DOES consider the stop word in this case. Because, in this case, without the stop word ("the"), the meaning would be completely different.
A question may arise, how search engines distinguish between the meanings of the above two search terms. Search engines do maintain the list of phrases, in which stop words should not be filtered out.
If the search results of the two queries (with and without stop words) are different, search engines like Google include those two queries to their exception list. This happens simultaneously as the user searches.
Sometimes you may have noticed Google returning irrelevant results for some search queries. In that case, search engines ignore stop words when it was actually necessary.
What's their role in SEO?
Many of the SEO experts and even Yoast plugin suggests you to remove stop words from a Blog post URL, Blog post title, and focus keyword. They say that including stop words, lowers the ranking of blog posts in SERPs. Stop words hurt SEO: It’s not completely true.
I myself have come across many blogs, who even not bother about stop words and rank higher in Google.
Google’s main aim is to enhance user experience. Filtering out stop words, many of the times spoils the user experience.
Stop words are necessary for beautifying the sentences. They fill meaning to the sentences. Google is becoming smarter day by day; it’s also realizing that discouraging usage of stop words spoils the user experience.