Can You Optimize for Stop Words in Search Results?

Dec 30, 2009 • 8:39 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A HighRankings Forum thread asks an interesting SEO question. The question is, can you optimize for stop words in Google or other search engines?

His particular example seems flawed, in that he is calling IT a stop word and it is stopping him for optimizing for the query [it companies]. However, when I search for [it companies] in Google, it does seem to figure out, IT here stands for information technology.

But in general, is there a need to optimize for stop words? Do we have more examples of cases? If so, can it be done?

Here is a poll:

Forum discussion at HighRankings Forum.

Update: See Jill's comment below for the issue this SEO has in the thread.

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12/30/2009 01:53 pm

In this context I just don't consider "IT" to be a stop word. Optimizing for stop words seems a bit redundant?? Just seems that you are taking away valuable optimize real estate.. :-) I posted my thoughts on the subject a few weeks back as well..

Jill Whalen

12/30/2009 01:54 pm

In the thread, he said "IT company" shows IT company results, but when he adds a geolocation to the phrase that's when there's a problem.

Menachem Mayberg

12/30/2009 08:25 pm

In some cases where IT is different then It or it I think that SEO can be done.


12/31/2009 03:42 pm

I can't recreate any problems for searching on IT companies with a geolocation attached. Though it does only brings up a local 7 pack when you change the term to IT consulting + "city" for me. Originally though the question was "can you optimize for stop words". The answer is clearly... it depends. Multi-word terms like "what is it" and "what the hell" (some funny image results) can be optimized including the stop words. Take the stop words out like "the" and "is" and the term takes on a whole new meaning. Now if you do something as subtle as compare results for the terms "construction in san jose" and "construction san jose" you get nearly identical results (I see 2 results trade places). Putting effort into optimizing for the word "in" here is obviously a waste. Like so many things in SEO, it all depends on what you are trying to do.

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