What are SEO stop words and should you worry about them?

In your efforts to optimize your website for search engines, you may have come across the concept of SEO stop words. 

But what are SEO stop words? How do they impact your SEO? And should you worry about them in your SEO strategy?

What are SEO stop words?

Stop words are actually common words that search engines may ignore both in search queries and search results. Think articles, prepositions, conjunctions and pronouns. For example, words like “the,” “any,” “in” or “a.” 

See this comprehensive list of SEO stop words.

Stop words typically don’t change the meaning of a query but are definitely needed in your content to properly structure sentences.

Words that Google ignores in search

On the flip side, if you Google “churches in Tulsa” versus “churches Tulsa,” there’s no contextual difference in the meaning of the query. The stop word in this example is “in,” but it is not necessary to perform the intended search.

Of course, as search engines continue to evolve, they likely will use some stop words to better understand the intention of searches. However, Google has not officially confirmed either way their stance on stop words.

Find out how to check your Google search ranking for free.

Where to use (or not use) stop words

As far as your page URLs, a simple structure is best. Often, your CMS or webmaster will automatically pull your page title into your page URL. This can make your URL rather long.

Avoid using stop words in your page titles

Ideally, in this case, it’s a best practice to remove stop words from your page URL to shorten and simplify. Just make sure that what you’re removing doesn’t change the context of the keywords left behind. And Google favors simple and short URL structures.

Don’t optimize page headers

When it comes to page headings and the title tags on search engine results pages, it’s a best practice to not remove these words.

This is because they do show in search results. Removing them makes for an awkward reading experience for users who could potentially click through to your website. So, you definitely want to prioritize the user experience here.

In a similar sense, you should never remove these words from your body content. Yes, you want to improve your SEO every chance you get, but your body content is the meat that users are looking for. Stop words are needed for the best possible user experience.

All in all, you shouldn’t worry too much about these words in your SEO strategy. The primary focus should be user experience first followed by SEO best practices after.

Find out if you’re making any of these 13 common mistakes with your SEO, and check out our 13 tips to get your website indexed by Google faster.

While you’re evaluating your SEO, consider upgrading your digital marketing process. DailyStory features automation and audience segmentation capabilities, among others. Schedule your free demo with us today.

7 tips to optimize for voice search and get ahead of the curve

While voice search may have begun as a novel concept, it definitely has a place in your SEO strategy now.

Of course, voice search began with smartphone use but has grown to include both smart speakers and voice assistants. It involves what is commonly understood as asking questions of Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and more.

About 56 percent of all voice searches are made on a smartphone, while 39.4 percent of all internet users use a voice assistant at least once per month.

Because of its ease and speed, voice search will only continue to grow in popularity, so it’s imperative that you consider optimizing your website for such a tool.

The following are seven tips to help you optimize your website and content for voice search so that you can get ahead of the curve.

Understand the difference between traditional and voice search

It is important to understand the difference between traditional search and voice search. 

For example, an internet user might want to search for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. In a traditional search, this person likely would type in “chocolate chip cookie recipe,” while in a voice search, the user might say, “Hey Alexa, how do I bake chocolate chip cookies?”

We simply don’t speak the same way that we type, particularly with search queries. Another example is typing in “weather New York” when you would most likely say, “What is the weather like in New York?”

The difference results in a difference of keywords and a more conversational search input.

Essentially, we’re talking about two different users: those who type a search query and those who ask questions in a voice search.

The user who types might be more okay with doing research, while the user who speaks his or her search likely wants quick, instant answers.

Think of conversational keywords

This boils down to considering the natural phrases that would be used in voice searches.

Long-tail keywords are longer than the typical search query. They’re typically what are on the ends of questions being asked in voice search.

They’re conversational in nature. By targeting and using these, you’ll rank potentially higher for in any given voice search.

Answer questions with your content

When optimizing for voice search, consider brevity, context and relevance.

Think about how you can answer your potential customers’ most common questions and solve their pain points. It’s about user intent.

Then, it comes down to structure:

  • Use headlines that ask a common question
  • After your headline, offer the answer or definition for the question
  • The rest of your content can then provide additional detail and context on the topic

This overall structure will appeal to search engines’ algorithms, while the concise information at the top of the webpage is optimized for voice search.

For example, visuals can have a lot of power on your website for visitors, but don’t hide any of your key information in a visual. It makes it more difficult for search engines to understand the relevance of your content.

Use schema markup

This structured data HTML add-on helps search engines understand the context of your content, which will not only help you rank higher in traditional searches but in specific voice search queries as well.

Schemas are a set of “types,” each associated with a set of properties. The types are arranged in a hierarchy.

Learn more about schemas.

Create or update your FAQs page

Voice search is typically conducted by asking a question. The “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how” of your business, products and/or services become that much more important.

Use these adverbs to include your most common questions on your FAQs page. Then, answer those questions in a conversational tone.

Remember that mobile equals local

More than ever before, mobile devices enable on-the-go local (and hyper-local) voice search queries. 

Here are some key considerations: 

  • Make sure any directions to your location(s) are available to both your website visitors and search engines. 
  • Include phrases people use to describe the neighborhood around your location(s).
  • Refer to any key landmarks near your location(s).

Check out these 11 tips to optimize your local SEO specifically.

In addition, it’s important that you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure your website is as mobile-friendly as possible.

Update your Google My Business listing (and all other listings)

Just like when you’re optimizing your local SEO, it’s critical to make sure that your company’s information is up-to-date across all listings, such as Yelp, Google My Business and so on.

Even differences like “Ave.” and “Avenue” can confuse search engines.

However, considering that voice search typically is seeking concise answers to questions (particularly local questions), that consistency and updated information is more important than ever.

In conclusion

Voice search will only continue to become more popular. The more you can do to optimize for voice search, the stronger your SEO will be, especially when compared to your competitors who haven’t even begun to think about voice search.

If you’re still seeking to cement your brand voice, see our eight tips. Plus, our Digital Marketing 101 Guide for Beginners can help you see the big picture and be a stronger marketer for your brand.

Need assistance with your digital marketing process? Consider DailyStory. Schedule your free demo today.