In this fourth part of my Google Speed-Search series, we’ll take a look at stop wordsÂ – words that Google ignores.
What words does GoogleÂ ignore?Â
There doesn’t seem to be a public list of Google stop words available (although I did find this), but words like the, is, are, that, on, in andÂ with are very likely to be ignored. Numbers and question words, too, seem to be considered as stop words.
Examples of searches with and without stop words
All theseÂ searches return (nearly) the same results:
Japanese Prime Minister
- The Japanese Prime Minister
- How is the Japanese Prime Minister?
- Who is the Japanese Prime Minister?
- Where is the Japanese Prime Minister?
- Was the Japanese Prime Minister in on it?
- Where is the Japanese Prime Minister from?
- What was the Japanese Prime Minister on about?
- Will this be from theÂ Japanese Prime Minister?
- Why and when to be the Japanese Prime Minister
- Is this by the Japanese Prime Minister or is that?
If you’re the kind of person who types questions into Google, hopefully you can now see that using stop words is pointless (at least in these examples) and you’d be able to speed up your searches without them. For example, if you really want to know where the Japanese prime minister is from, you’d be better off searching with:
birthplace Japanese Prime Minister
How to include stop words in a Google search
What if you really need to include stop words in your search? Well, in the last lesson, I showed you how to exclude words from your search results using negation. We did that by adding a minus sign (-) to the front of the word we wanted to exclude. The opposite is called Explicit Inclusion, and we use a plus sign (+)Â to forcibly include words in our searches. For example:
If you didn’t include the stop word, you’d get results about automobiles. Using Explicit Inclusion however, you get results for the American rock band from the 70’s, The Cars.
Is a phrase search better?
Usually, yes. In our example above, we are telling Google to return pages that contain the words the and cars, but not neccessarily together or in that order. To improve our results, we want to see those words back-to-back, so we’d be better off using a phrase search, i.e.:
A phrase search gives results contaiing the exact phrase searched for, including any stop words.
There are times when explicit inclusion is helpful though. A search for
king will return pages for magazines, games and radio stations called King. A search for
+the king will give you results for Elvis Presley, books, movies and burgers, instead.