Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stop Words

Some words are in such common usage (a, and, the) that they appear on almost every web page. It makes little sense for a search engine to index every occurrence of the word “and” on the internet – there are just too many, and they don’t mean very much. There are, in fact, a couple of hundred such “stop words.” Different search engines, naturally, use different lists.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use stop words in your writing. A search engine might read your page where it says “finding the truth” and ignore “the” as a stop word… but when someone searches for “finding the truth,” the search engine will take into account that the search term has a word in between “finding” and “truth.”4

So, it really doesn’t help to try to eliminate stop words from your search term list. In fact, since search engines consider word order and proximity when ranking pages, you’ve actually got a better chance of showing up for “finding the truth” if you use the words naturally, and write the phrase out.

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