75 Stop Words That Are Common in SEO & When You Should Use Them

75 Stop Words That Are Common in SEO & When You Should Use Them

From blog titles to URL slugs, you might not realize how frequently you use SEO stop words. But, to be fair, if Google doesn’t pay much attention to them, why should you?

Research shows that 25% of blog posts are made up of stop words. However, these words have little to no relevance to the topic of the post. These are words that help you compose sentences and connect ideas together, and they don’t have much impact on Google’s search results.

But, excessive use of stop words can impact your brand in the long run. They make content harder for search engines to process which can end up negatively affecting how they index your pages.

In this post, we’ll walk you through exactly what SEO stop words are, how they can hurt — or help — your online presence, and which words are considered stop words by Google and other search engines.Access Now: 20 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2020

What Are Stop Words in SEO?

We use stop words all the time, whether we’re online or in our everyday lives. These are the articles, prepositions, and phrases that connect keywords together and help us form complete, coherent sentences.

Common words like its, an, the, for, and that, are all considered stop words. While they’re important for communicating verbally, stop words typically carry little importance to SEO and are often ignored by search engines.

Let’s review some of the most common stop words in the section below.

Common SEO Stop Words

The most common SEO stop words are pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. This includes words like a, an, the, and, it, for, or, but, in, my, your, our, and their.

When people search for something online, search engines like Google omit these words in their results because they don’t relate to the keywords in the search. So, rather than looking up content that’s related to these words, Google removes them altogether and prioritizes the keywords.

So, the next time you’re trying to hit a word count when writing a blog post, try filling that open space with keywords rather than filler copy that doesn’t improve your SEO.

While it would be great to load up your content with only meaningful keywords, the reality is that stop words are needed for every type of copy. After all, even if you rank highly on Google, it won’t mean much if your content is incomprehensible or doesn’t resonate with your audience.

Are Stop Words Beneficial for SEO?

There’s a time and place for SEO stop words. First and foremost, stop words help the reader understand the content. It can be confusing to read titles and subheaders without stop words.

You also might find instances where stop words help you differentiate between two topics. For example, you can search ‘flamingos’ and you’ll see information about beautiful, bright pink birds. Add ‘the’ to the front, and you’ll be directed to YouTube to listen to the band, The Flamingos. This tiny, three-letter stop word makes a world of a difference in this case.

In the next section, let’s look at some other times when you should be paying attention to stop words to optimize your content’s search ranking.

Removing Stop Words

Should you be removing stop words from all of your content?

Like anything else, it depends on how you’re using them. If your titles, headings, URL slugs, and keywords make sense without them, then it can be beneficial to remove them.

SEO Stop Words in Titles

If your titles don’t make sense when you take out those articles or prepositions, then it’s best to leave them be. After all, you want your audience to actually click and read your content. If the most prominent parts — including the title — don’t make sense, the website could come off as unprofessional or even spammy.

It usually makes the most sense to leave stop words in titles and headings, as these are wayfinding elements for users navigating your content. Just keep in mind that the optimal character count for titles is 50-60 characters, as search engines cut off longer titles, which could omit important information for the visitor. If you have lengthy stop words in your title, consider rewriting them to balance brevity and clarity.

Stop Words in URL Slugs

When it comes to URL slugs, stop words typically don’t have much significance in SEO. They’re relevant, however, if they make your URL slug particularly long. Google ranks URLs based on their length, and longer URLs typically rank lower than shorter ones — as outlined by the chart below.

SEO-stop-words

Image Source

Stop Words as Keywords

As we touched on in the last section, there are some times when stop words are crucial to keywording because they differentiate a proper noun from something else. For example, if you searched “Jets New York” you’d probably get a list of flights coming in and out of New York City. But, if you searched, “The New York Jets,” you would get content about the professional football team instead.

Now that we’re familiar with what stop words are and when we should use them, let’s look at a broader list of stopwords that you should be aware of when creating and optimizing content.

75 Stop Words in SEO

There are many, many more stop words out there, but here’s a list of some of the most common stop words to be mindful of when creating content online.

A

About

Actually

Almost

Also

Although

Always

Am

An

And

Any

Are

As

At

Be

Became

Become

But

By

Can

Could

Did

Do

Does

Each

Either

Else

For

From

Had

Has

Have

Hence

How

I

If

In

IS

IT

ITS

JUST

MAY

MAYBE

Me

Might

Mine

Must

My

Mine

Must

My

Neither

Nor

Not

Of

Oh

Ok

When

Where

Whereas

Wherever

Whenever

Whether

Which

While

Who

Whom

Whoever

Whose

Why

Will

With

Within

Without

Would

Yes

Yet

You

Your

 

Using SEO Stop Words

SEO stop words are important if you want to create a strong SEO strategy and rank highly on search engines like Google. Overusing them can hinder your ranking, but avoiding them altogether will make your content confusing and unclear. By understanding what stop words are and which words qualify as stop words, you can craft content that works to your brand’s advantage.

For more ways to rank higher on search engines, read these SEO tips.

seo myths

SEO Myths to Leave Behind

What Changes Do You Need To Make To Your Email Marketing Campaign During A Crisis?

What Changes Do You Need To Make To Your Email Marketing Campaign During A Crisis?

As businesses slowly shift in order to comply with the “new normal”, marketers are making changes to their campaign strategies in order to address the needs of their audience. For most brands, emails are the best way to relay important information such as branch closures, alternate ways to transact with their brand, changes in operating hours as well as shipping schedules, and cancellations of events.

But how exactly do you get an important message across during a time when your audience is bound to be bombarded with similar messages? How exactly do you ensure that your emails don’t just make it to the inboxes of your audience, but that they are also opened and read in earnest?

These are some tips to help you conduct a successful email marketing campaign during a crisis.

Don’t Stop Promotional Campaigns Abruptly

A recent survey among email marketers showed that about 71% of marketers suspended their promotional emails. While this might seem like a good idea in light of the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing so — even for a few weeks — shouldn’t be the case because you’d be killing a much-needed potential for leads. Even if this suspension is done in good faith, the fact remains that you need to keep trying to sell, whether it’s a product or an idea.

If we all stop buying and selling things, then the economy is going to suffer more than it already is. There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell something during a pandemic, but we have to do so tactfully. Acknowledge the situation that we’re all in, especially when what you’re trying to sell isn’t something essential. The more genuine a message is, the better. An particular email from Levi’s said “here’s an update on what’s going on at Levi’s” and it later said “not that this is the time to be thinking about buying a pair of jeans.”.

That kind of awareness sends an audience an impression that yes, Levi’s is still around, but that they’re also aware of the situation, and that is exactly the kind of honesty and tact we need. Continue promotional campaigns, pull back on frequency as needed, but never completely stop.

Update Email Templates and Automated Messages

While this should go without saying, its importance warrants a gentle reminder. If your brand has been forced to make changes that directly affect your consumer base, it’s necessary to reflect these changes in your emails. An efficient way to do this is to create temporary templates for your upcoming campaigns. This way, you can simply revert to your original templates once things return to normal. This should also reflect across all your departments to avoid sending mixed messages to your customers.

Specify And Reward Loyal Customers And Subscribers

Nothing tugs the heartstrings as much as a personalized message. A long message from your CEO might appeal to your management and legal team, but it won’t have the same effect on your entire email list, and it may even cause them to unsubscribe from your newsletter. Again, it’s important to send a personalized email to your loyal customers. Even a simple thank you (insert subscriber name here) will do your brand well in nurturing a lasting relationship with your audience.

The need for an online presence cannot be stressed enough, especially during a pandemic. It’s also important to ensure that the content on your website matches the messages you send. It’s for this reason that you might also want to consider working with web design companies like Excite Media to help you.

Wait! Don’t forget to check out these related articles:

How to Analyze Competing Affiliate Programs | The Blueprint

How to Analyze Competing Affiliate Programs | The Blueprint

If you’re launching or already running an affiliate program, one of your priorities should be to perform a competitive analysis, covering also competing affiliate programs and the activity of the merchants behind them. And I don’t mean just having a general idea of their name, products or services, and position on the market. I mean knowing their every step, their every campaign, their every policy, and their every strategy. Yes, it will take some time, effort, and resources to gather all the data and process it but it will be worth it. In what follows, we’re excited to bring you the complete blueprint for affiliate competitive analysis.

Benefits of Analyzing Competing Affiliate Programs

affiliate marketing focusFollowing your competitors’ activity can help you in numerous ways that go far beyond the affiliate program.

As you engage in gathering competitive data, always remember that the real purpose of this exercise is not to just gather the required data, but to learn (from it) and act (upon your learnings).

Since our focus is on affiliate marketing, you can count on the following benefits:

  • Confirmation that affiliate marketing works for your business model. We know that, done right, affiliate marketing works for almost any business model. This is especially true for these 15 niches. Merchants can benefit from it in at least these 10 ways. You can confirm that by simply searching online for phrases like: [competitor brand] + affiliate program, [competitor brand] + partnerships, etc. In times when more than 81% of merchants and 84% of publishers leverage the power of affiliate marketing, you really shouldn’t have doubts.
  • Informed choice of the affiliate program tracking solution. The decision of whether to run your affiliate program in-house or on an affiliate network should take into account your competitors. If most of them, especially the most successful ones, run their programs on the same affiliate network, it means that the publishers they work with are there too. It doesn’t make sense to start your affiliate program in-house or on another network and require publishers to take additional registration efforts. By joining that network yourself, you’ll have more opportunities to reach out to them and higher chances to convince them to accept.
  • Inspiration for your affiliate program terms and presentation. Just as you compete with other brands for buyers, you compete with other merchants for affiliates. It is important to come up with a unique, attractive offer. You also need to clearly regulate affiliates’ use and promotion of your brand. You can learn a lot about that from your competitors.
  • Inspiration for your future strategies and new opportunities. Some of your competitors do better than others. By monitoring and comparing competing affiliate programs (affiliate commission rates, creatives, deals, and promos, etc.) and their evolution (e.g. network ranking evolution, brand reputation, conversion, EPC, etc.), you can figure out what works and what doesn’t. You can apply or at least test the most promising solutions in your own program.
  • Identify and recruit competitors’ affiliates and other similar publishers. Just as you target the same buyers, you can also target the same affiliates. You just have to find out who those are and reach out to them with a similar or better offer. There are numerous ways to do that, some easier than others. We’ll review the most effective of them in the following lines.

How to Gather the Competitive Intelligence

Gathering competitive dataWe’ve already established how studying competing affiliate programs can benefit you. Now let’s look at ways to do it. You surely have a lot going on and would like to gather as much data as possible with as little effort as possible.

Our very own Geno Prussakov anticipated this need almost a decade ago when he provided solutions in his article for SearchEnginePeople:

  • Joining competitors’ affiliate programs – You will need an affiliate account for that, but the effort of creating it will be worth it. Besides being able to join and analyze various affiliate programs, receive their newsletters, and have access to their statistics and deals, you will also get to see your program through affiliates’ eyes.
  • Befriending and following competitors on social media – It goes without saying that you should use a private, individual account and not your corporate one. Follow their activity to see how they promote themselves and what strategies they use to grow their brand and their affiliate program. Subscribe to their newsletters, RSS feeds, and follow their forums activity.
  • Playing the customer – You want to sell more, and knowing how your competitors’ do it can help. Pretend to be a potential buyer and see what they do to convince you. It could be anything from last-minute deals and discounts to remarketing, abandoned cart recovery campaigns, and more, sometimes through in-house efforts, other times through affiliates.
  • Setting up automatic monitoring – Tools like Google Alerts can help you find out what is being published and by whom about both you and your competitors’ brands and affiliate programs. With SEMRush, you can track everything from keywords usage to competing websites and backlinks.
  • Employing traffic measuring tools – Similar Web’s browser extension is a free and easy to use solution to measure traffic, visitor dynamics, and social media engagement with a single click. For more in-depth analyses, the Alexa tools stack is impressive.

These five solutions alone can provide you with an incredible amount of information. What should you be looking at and how should you use it? We’ll cover that in the following lines.

Data to Monitor in Competing Affiliate Programs

1. Tracking Solution

On which network do most of your competitors run their programs? Do they use in-house tracking software, and, if they do, which provider did they choose? It may be a good idea to follow their lead or at least consider the options they chose when making your decision.

2. Program Name

Obviously, your affiliate program’s name should be based on your brand name but that may not be representative enough for your line of business. You need a name that will tell publishers what you sell and what they’d be promoting. Looking at how your competitors do it can help you come up with it.

3. Program Description

We’ve covered the basics of writing a good affiliate program description here, but turning theory into practice is not always easy. Reading your competitors’ descriptions can help you come up with one even better than theirs.

4. Commission Structure

As explained in our previous post on how to calculate affiliate commission rates, it is very important that you look at the commission structure of competitor affiliate programs. You need to stay competitive without breaking the bank. To do that, take into account performance bonuses and tiered commission increases as well, not just the standards.

5. Average Commission

Sometimes, the commission percentages that your competitors list on their affiliate program page are not accurate. They could be their minimum rate or their maximum one. What you want to know is how much they are actually paying, and looking at their average commission rate will help.

6. Program Rules and Policies

We’ve already covered the importance of having a sound affiliate program agreement in place, what rules and policies the agreement should include, and that merchants need to police affiliates to avoid parasitism and other activities that do not add value.

You can learn a lot about these by looking at what your competitors are doing. What does their PPC policy say about direct linking and bidding on TM and TM+? Do they work with coupon affiliates, prohibit deceitful advertising or promoting codes unavailable through the affiliate program? Maybe you should too. Whatever you decide, make sure to have clear rules in place and enforce them.

7. Competing Affiliate Program Creatives

Your affiliates will need creatives like text links, banners, coupons, discount codes, maybe even videos, apps, and widgets to promote you. Personalized creatives and co-branded landing pages can be very important for affiliates as well. You can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t from analyzing your competitors’ creative arsenal. It can also serve you as a source of inspiration. Your designer may have an easier time delivering what you need and improving banner conversion if you provide some examples.

8. Affiliate Offerings

Depending on your line of business, you may want to offer your affiliates free samples to review in photos or videos, in-depth presentations of your products or services, lists of keywords to use or avoid, audience details, and more. Looking at what competitor affiliate programs are offering can represent a great starting point for structuring your own offer. Geno’s recommendations on equipping affiliates may come in handy as well.

9. Product Prices

Yes, this information does not necessarily pertain to competing affiliate programs but it could be useful. If your competitors’ products are higher priced than yours, you could leverage the price difference to your advantage. If yours are higher-priced, perhaps you should be looking at offering buyers 0 APR payment options, or find additional ways to justify the price difference.

10. Average Order Value

Besides product prices, another detail you want to be looking at is the average order value. When you notice average order values higher than the average product price, study that competitors’ activity carefully. It means that they or their affiliates are doing a great job at convincing buyers to buy several products at the same time. That’s something you want to learn and apply as well.

11. Conversion Rate

How successful are you at converting website visitors into buyers? Consider looking at your more successful competitors and learning from them. When having to choose which merchants to promote, affiliates will settle for the ones with the highest conversion rates, as they know that, with those, the traffic they can send has better chances of turning into sales.

When you notice high conversion rates, don’t hesitate to dig deeper. Go to your competitor’s website, add products to your shopping cart to receive their abandoned cart email, and see what they do to bring customers back. Look at their popups and overlays, at how they advertise any ongoing promotions. If you don’t have such solutions implemented on your website, you should test them. If you don’t have the resources to do it yourself, you can find a conversion optimization affiliate to do it for you!

12. EPC

Tightly connected to commissions and conversion rate, EPC (earnings per click – measured usually per 100 clicks) is the metric most publishers look at when choosing which affiliate programs to promote. The higher your EPC rate is, the more attractive your program will be to affiliates. Checking the EPC rates of competing affiliate programs will help you identify the ones that perform best and learn from them.

13. Cookie Life

As you already know, cookie life, also known as tracking period, measures the time period you give affiliates to convert clicks into purchases. Statistics show that most purchases occur immediately after the first clicks. The journey from click to purchase can be longer for higher-priced products but that’s not the point of our discussion.

Generally, you want to set a tracking period similar to or longer than your competitors. You won’t be able to do that if you don’t know what they’re offering. Also, most of the time, a cookie life extension will make your affiliate program more attractive to affiliates without actually costing you anything.

14. Offers to Buyers

What products or services do your competitors offer that you don’t? Perhaps you could expand your own inventory and, thus, reach out to a wider audience or increase each customer’s lifetime value. Moreover, knowing that 60% of shoppers look for coupons and discounts online before making a purchase, most merchants started offering them.

If you want to stay competitive, you should at least keep up, and knowing what your competitors are offering is a great way to do that. Besides checking the deals and promos in competing affiliate programs, also check competitor websites and read their newsletters. Look at the discount amount vs. price, promo duration, ways to benefit from the promo (coupon code, automatically at checkout, code by email, etc.), dedicated creatives, etc.

15. Affiliates

Believe it or not, nowadays technology allows you to identify affiliates in competing programs. For example, SEMRush helps you identify the websites linking to your competitors’. Sure, not all of them will be affiliate websites but you can export the list, identify the ones that are, and reach out to them and invite them to promote you as well. Other tools, like Publisher Discovery, help you identify affiliates in competing affiliate programs. The information will not always be accurate or complete but it could be worth gold in the right hands.

Tips on Using Competitive Intelligence Data

Now you know what to look at in competing affiliate programs. Here are a few more tips to help you use that information to your advantage:

  • Track several competitors, the more the merrier. Even if only one seems to represent a threat to your business, others surely target the same audience. Monitoring their affiliate programs as well will provide you a wider perspective and help you steer your own program in the right direction. 
  • Monitor your competitors’ activity at all times, not just when launching your affiliate program. They will adjust their strategies regularly, and it is important that you adjust yours as well. Review changes at least once a month if you cannot do it weekly. 
  • Learn from your competitors’ mistakes. Not everything they do is right, and exploiting their mistakes could be a great way to take the lead. For example, some may announce promotions too late or only send newsletters every couple of months. You can and should do better than that.
  • Don’t take everything you see or read for granted. Some facts or numbers reflect a partial reality that you want to put in a bigger context. Geno did a great job explaining how affiliate program statistics could be misleading you here.
  • Don’t sleep on your success! Just because you’ve managed to learn from your competitors on a couple of occasions and turn things in your favor it doesn’t mean they’ll give up and wait to see all their customers turn to you. You should constantly look for ways to improve your offer to both buyers and affiliates, to gather even more information, and use it more efficiently.

Finally, and more importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Monitoring competing affiliate programs, processing the information, and using it could take a lot of time and resources, especially if you have limited or no experience in affiliate program management and a business to manage. You don’t have to do it alone. At AM Navigator, we’ve helped hundreds of merchants overcome their competitors. Let us help you too by getting in touch and scheduling a free exploratory call!