Most writers will be familiar with the concept of ‘Stop Words’. Even if you’re not experienced in SEO copywriting you will probably have an intuitive awareness of Stop Words, even using them (or more to the point, not using them) when you use search engines to make queries.

Stop Words are those common or garden words, the little ones, that bind the juicy keywords, the substantive content of a sentence together in the English language.

Here’s an example. Say you are based in London and you wanted to find a digital copywriter based in or around London, maybe to write some SEO articles or to do some blog copywriting. You would naturally Google (or Bing) something like ‘digital copywriter London’ or ‘London digital copywriter’. Intuitively, it’s unlikely that you would would complete a fuller query including the word ‘in’ – as in ‘Digital copywriter in London’.

It makes sense to cut to the chase – that’s exactly what Google does. Instead of trawling through billions of  stop words that offer virtually no value to the pursuit of relevance Google simply ignores them. Bing does too, offering this advice on its Advanced Search Options page: “You must capitalize the NOT and OR operators. Otherwise, Bing will ignore them as stop words (Words that are frequently used, but that do not offer descriptive value to search engines. For example, a, of, and the are considered stop words.).“ Here’s an extensive list –

How might stop words impact on SEO copywriting? Could they be integrated into copy and used to assist SEO?

Well, some people certainly seem to think so. for example, blog the advantages that carefully deployed stop words can have by breaking up keyword phrases to read more naturally.

Compare these two pieces:

High impact website design is a mix of flash, content and design. The problem with high impact website design is that it has a tendency to load slowly”….. and…

High impact website design is a mix of flash, content and design. The problem with a high impact website is that the design has a tendency to load slowly…”

See how the second use of the phrase high impact web design has been broken up in the second piece, using the stop words ‘is that the’ to make the sentence read better?

Should you do the same thing in your SEO copywriting?

If you have infinite time, patience and ability then maybe. But really any decent web copywriter will more than be able to naturally flag relevance within a piece of writing. That a Google search for Take That or The Who is topped with returns for the bands goes to show that there are many sophisticated factors at play in addition to simple word based information retrieval.

Stop words – worth knowing about – best ignored.

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