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Take care of stop words and filter words

Google and other big search engines ignore common words such as 'the', 'of', 'where', as well as certain single digits and single letters. These words are called "filter words". They are ignored because they tend to slow down a search without improving the results.

Of course, every search engine has its own list of filter words. We've found out that the following words seem to be ignored by most search engines:

a, about, an, and, are, as, at, be, by, from, how, i, in, is, it, of, on, or, that, the, this, to, was, we, what, when, where, which, with

* What does this mean to your site?

Search engines consider keywords in the title, in the body text and in link texts of a Web page as an important ranking criteria.

Be careful when you choose your keywords for the title and the rest of your Web page. If your Web page title contains a list of filter words you won't get any results. You might also dilute the effectiveness of your other keywords if you include too many filter words in the title.

Many search engines recommend limiting the number of letters in the title and in the meta tags. If your Web page title or the meta tags contain too many filter words, you might reach the character limit before your important keywords begin.

* Some words can get you banned on search engines

While filter words might dilute the effectiveness of your other keywords, some words might get your Web page banned on search engines. These words are called stop words.

Adult words and phrases that contain sexual content are the most common stop words. However, some search engines build custom stop word lists to penalize Web sites that use "keyword stuffing". Some sites use the same keyword over and over on their pages to get a high rank for that keyword on search engines, even if it is not related to their content.

Of course, search engines try to find those sites and they penalize Web pages that use keyword stuffing. Unfortunately, some sites are penalized although their webmasters didn't try to spam the search engines just because they use a keyword too many times.

That's why keyword analysis and the right keyword density is very important for a successful Web site. If the keyword density is too low, you won't get a good ranking, if it's too high, your site might get accused of keyword stuffing.

* Summary

  1. Use your most important keywords at the beginning of the title, meta tags, link texts and body text.

  2. Avoid using filter words to increase the effectiveness of your keywords.

  3. Make sure that your Web pages have the right keyword density and don't contain stop words.

The right keyword mix on your Web pages will help you to improve your ranking on all important search engines.

To find out the keyword density of your Web site, you might want to try the freeware edition of Internet Business Promoter.

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January 2003 search engine articles