Search Engine Visibility - book companion site Home Site map Contact
Photo - file Photo - search Photo - eye chart
About Search Engine Visibility
Author Shari Thurow
Need a speaker?
Search engine optimization services
Frequently asked questions
Bonus materials
Ask the SEO expert
Search engine marketing glossary

Stop words vs. filter words and SEO

Is there a difference between a stop word and a filter word?

I have to admit that this is one of the most frequent questions I get from readers of the book. I hope this answer will clear everything up.

I do not understand the difference between stop words and filter words. Can you explain the difference more clearly?

99.99% of the time, the phrases "stop words" and "filter words" are synonyms.

Filter words are common words (a, an, of, or, and, the) that the search engines ignore during a search. Search engines filter out these words because using these words in a search query can slow down the retrieval of search results without improving accuracy.

It's really easy to figure out some of the major filter words. For example, if you type in the phrase "the taming of the shrew" (without the quotation marks) in Google, you'll notice that the words "the" and "of" are ignored. Those are filter words. They are also called stop words.

Now to the tricky part. As I stated previously, most of the time, stop words and filter words have the same meaning. The one exception is the adult industry. Because I don't want this page showing up in SERPs (search engine results pages) for the following stop words, let's just say these words rhyme with cluck, bit, punt, class, etc.

I hope you get the idea.

The search engines will automatically stop recording the words on a web page when they see stop words. Now suppose these stop words are used on web pages about Barney the Dinosaur or on a page about Disney cartoon characters or a Minion, pages clearly written for children. Wouldn't that be a good reason to stop?

So if your site is not in the adult industry, just remember that "stop words" and "filter words" have the same meaning.


Shari Thurow - photoThis article originally appeared in WebProNews and has been updated by author Shari Thurow since its original publication. If you would like permission to publish this article for your online newsletter, blog, or web site, please fill out our contact form or call us at 847-426-4256.

Shari Thurow is the Founder and SEO Director at Omni Marketing Interactive, a full-service search engine optimization (SEO), web site usability, information architecture (IA), and web design firm. She is also the co-author of the book, When Search Meets Web Usability.

For more information about our search engine optimization, search usability training, and site design services, please fill out our contact form or call us at 847-426-4256.

Back to bonus materials

Buy Search Engine Visibility Contact form

About the book | Book reviews | Updates | About the author | SEO services | Speaking events
FAQs | Bonus materials | Links & resources | Site map | Contact | Back to home

Copyright © 2002- Shari Thurow and Peachpit Press. All rights reserved.