Stop Words Are Ignored by Search Engines. Not!

It’s gone largely unnoticed. But back in January of this year, Google made some subtle changes to a long-standing “given” that copywriters depended on: stop words are ignored by search engines. As writers, we all felt secure knowing that if we tucked an “an” or an “if” here or there, it would slip right by the spiders and bots without a second thought. No more!

As reported in detail by Dan Thies and Bill Slawski, formerly labeled stop words aren’t causing enormous stirs in the SEO world. But for copywriters, there is reason to take note.

Because Google now indexes stop words, you need to be aware of if and how you include them in and around keyphrases. The same goes for punctuation.

Many people don’t understand the difference between punctuation and typography. While you may think it’s all semantics, it can change the effect of the keyphrases you use in your copy. Just because it is a symbol and not a letter, doesn’t mean it is ignored by the engines.

These two elements – along with a new title – are included in the 4th edition of one of my ebooks. Previously titled How to Increase Keyword Saturation, this ebook is now called Writing With Keywords ( and includes information about the new rules of writing with stop words and also details about which punctuation/typography causes shifts in keyphrases and which don’t.

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About Karon Thackston

For over 25 years, web & SEO copywriter Karon Thackston has created optimized copy and content that has increased conversions & search rankings. Find out more about Karon on Google+.

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