A couple of weeks ago, the SEO industry couldn’t stop talking about stop words. SEMrush posted a list of “SEO stop words” and the community began buzzing. John Mueller of Google even responding saying on Twitter “I wouldn’t worry about stop words at all; write naturally.”
In computing, stop words are words which are filtered out before or after processing of natural language data. But Google and other search engines are way smarter these days around stop words. In fact, I doubt they even filter them out, they probably use them to better understand the sentence meaning. We heard Google talk about this with RankBrain, BERT and other natural language processing techniques over the years. Google themselves in 2008 stopped displaying stop word notifications in the search results, where Google would tell the searcher it ignored certain stop words because hey, maybe Google didn’t ignore them as part of your query anymore. Here is a screen shot I posted on Search Engine Land of how Google displayed these stop words in the search results:
As John Mueller of Google said “I wouldn’t worry about stop words at all; write naturally. Search engines look at much, much more than individual words. “To be or not to be” just is a collection of stop words, but stop words alone don’t do it any justice.”
I wouldn’t worry about stop words at all; write naturally. Search engines look at much, much more than individual words. “To be or not to be” just is a collection of stop words, but stop words alone don’t do it any justice.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 6, 2021
I agree with this. I mean, it is 2021.
I agree with Bill and Dawn, I am sure Google uses the words and no longer simply ignores them anymore. So they are likely not “stop” words anymore.
Suspect a lot of that has changed even more with the advent of contextual natural language ML. A lot of those ‘stop words’ are glue that hold context together. Plus also, ‘The Who’ is not the same as ‘who’ so undoubtedly the whole stop word unused thing is likely way out of date
— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) February 6, 2021
Forum discussion at Twitter.