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Google Stop Words Effects on SEO



3:19 am on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As, we all know Google ignore some words to speed up the search results and these words are known as "Stop Words". Now, the problem i have been noticing could be very bad for people who don't have much budget to compete with big sites.

Having said that, If we don't have budget and we need good traffic in short time the best strategy to target the long tail keywords.

For example

"Make widgets" is my main keyword since it is very hard to get higher rankings on the serps for this keyword that's why we dig deeper and find some long tail keywords.

Like "how to make widgets" and " how to make widgets fast" now you know these are good long tail keywords


Since, Google ignore "how to" as being the stop words. You will see that the search engine results for all the above keywords are almost same.


So, i want to know if we choose the keyword "how to make widgets fast" and build links using the anchor text "how to make widgets fast" will Google count "how to" in the anchor text?

So, if Google count "how to" in the anchor text but ignore it on the serps then i don't think it will help anyone to rank for terms like that. But, if Google counts and also reward you with the rankings then it will be a good news.

Its very confusing situation, if anyone have faced this kind of situation before pls let me know and the community their experience and don't forget to answer the question.


[edited by: tedster at 5:40 am (utc) on Apr 21, 2010]
[edit reason] make keywords more generic [/edit]


6:23 am on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's been my experience when searching for tutorial info that Google does not ignore how to when these two words are together like this.


8:17 am on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

for certain queries the "how to" will return wildly different results from searches done without the "how to"

how to widget

will not show you the same as just


this applies to all of googles stopwords in my experience -- whenever the query is relevant.

this does not even take into account phrase and match searches.


2:20 pm on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@iridiax @gn_wendy Thanks for your replies :)

anyone else would like to share their experience.


2:49 pm on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The concept of "stop words" originates in the individual term indexing method to information retrieval, and Google's technology has been moving away from this approach. You might notice the effects of this when you see unexpected results for various searches.

Google's evolution away from individual term indexing to phrase-based indexing [webmasterworld.com] is at least four years old. They were recently granted a new patent in this methodology - I believe this is now #12. So, no, it's not FUD.

I am still studying the latest patent [patft.uspto.gov] and I hope to do a more in-depth post once I process the ideas a bit more.

For now, this Summary of the Invention" language from the patent itself should indicate that we're not in Kansas anymore! "An information retrieval system and methodology uses phrases to index and search documents in the document collection. Phrases are also used to decompose inputs (e.g., queries) into phrase trees..."


3:03 pm on Apr 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

A year or two back, Google offered a public release of their "1 TB ngram corpus". This is a collection of all the "ngrams", or 1 to 5 word phrases, that Google had identified from their web crawling.

I'm pretty sure that "how to" is included in that terrabyte of phrase data. Also, you may have noticed that sometimes adding an extra word (or using a minus sign) has unintuitive results. you think you've added an extra limitation and the total number of results should be lower but instead it jumps higher. My sense of this is that it is related to phrase-based indexing when our expectations were formed around individual term indexing.


2:24 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi tedster,

Thanks for replying, but you explained it in very technical language. I request you to please me all this things in a simple language using some examples.

Please do spare some of your precious time in order to explain it in a simpler way.



4:27 am on Apr 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sorry if I confused the issue for you. I was trying to give some technical background for those readers who are interested. Here's the short answer - today's Google DOES index phrases like "how to ..." So you don't need to worry about stop words.

In fact, they have identified a huge number of common phrases of up to 5 words in length. They do not just index word-by-word any more. They even released a file to the public that contained an early version of all the phrases, going up to 5 words long. The file size for that list alone was a full terrabyte, so you can be pretty sure that "how to" phrases are indexed! In fact, just start typing the search and you'll see those phrases coming up in the search suggestions.

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