Stop words are words that search engines, like Google, traditionally ignore in searches. For that reason, they’ve been shunned by SEO specialists in regards to how they name domain names, page titles and other keyword-centric onsite SEO elements. However, that strategy has been changing lately, because search algorithms are starting to include stop words in their SERPs more often than not.
Black Hat Domainer recently brought the stop word discussion up as it pertained to domainers. The writer pointed to a patent Google submitted on January 15, 2008 that stated:
Typically, given a query, the performance bottleneck is the time it takes to decode the occurrences (which are typically delta encoded to save space, and thus have to be followed from the beginning) of the most frequently occurring term, especially if this term is a so-called stop-word such as “the”.
This change can be easily seen by doing a search for “the car” and “car”. The domain thecar.com comes up as the third result on the first page, but can’t be found on the non stop word search.
I even checked with Aaron, a domainer at The Mad Hat, and he confirmed that he tested this technique a while back and that using stop words in domains does work.
Assuming that this trend continues, we might see a new rush on domain names — ones that contain a variety of stop words. My guess is that “the” will lead the pack and will be followed by words like “about,” “for” and possibly “what.”
Of course, many of these words have already been used in domains that target the vernacular of their intended audience. So, for those who are already using them, they should theoretically experience a boost in the SERPs, assuming they haven’t already.