Monthly Archives: December 2008

What are Stop words?

Stop Words

When a user searches they very often use a phrase.  And some engines actually encourage this as this is human behaviour.  Stop words are prepositions, joining words or just fluff (wiki definition: Stop words).  These words are very common but don’t add any value to the users search.  

To-date search engines that focus upon retrieving search results on the users keywords found in queries have often ignored stop words.

“Stop words” can be ‘a’, ‘on’, ‘the’, ‘in’.  And sometimes stop words can be joined and that is called a “stop phrase”

A practical example in the travel space is “hotels in new york”, the ‘in’ is discounted.  The exception is when a preposition is part of the exact phrase match e.g. “alice in wonderland”, the ‘in’ is needed here.  The major players are reported to actively working on ways to understand if they add value! Good luck to them. 

Why are stop words important?  Well everything you do regarding keywords is about linguistics. If you today search for a phrase with and without stop terms depending on the query you may see different results.  If you are working in PPC and you are extensively using exact match, you need to set up differently.  

Until the search engines fully understand human language (they are patent heavy in this area so I guess they are on it) then how you optimise on and off page using stop words still makes another small difference.

Additional links:
You can also see Google’s answer page.
An old article on SEOMOz

Link baiting with inspiring content

Holiday Rentals

I am pleased to see an initiative that was kicking around when I was there at, (part of the HomeAway group of companies) has finally gone live.  And I have to admit, to a higher standard than I was expecting.  So, I am pleased for the team there and I wish them all the luck they deserve.

The How?
They have asked their user base of holiday home owners to supply unique and inspiring content from their respective geographies.  The owners of the properties are the local experts.  And food is an emotional topic.

The why?
First of all, good for their users.  It is another point of differentiation in a competitive travel industry.  And from an SEO perspective (which is the purpose of my site) for linking benefit.  I have seen a few links going to the site already, here is one TheFoodieList.  And Food is definately relevant for travel!

Take look for yourself on Holiday Rentals’ Travel Cookbook >> 

CTR from the SERPs

A common question is what is the click through rate from the search engine results pages.  This is obviously very important when you are trying to justify the investment in moving individual words or phrases.

Over time I have seen quite a few studies.  And I have taken 4 I like and blended them into this chart.  Here is the chart in data in case you want to use it yourself.

CTR from SERPs

CTR from SERPs

CTR data

This is important as if you know the opportunity from your keyword research.  Then then you can multiple this by the average CTR to get your estimated traffic you could receive.  Or at least produce a ‘if I could get to 3 I could get….” as a best case scenario is helpful.

The other way that this can be helpful is if through your own analytics you know you average on a position.  Then if, you moved up X number of places you would work out the new possible amount of traffic.

I have both these techniques for building business cases.

I hope you find it useful yourself.

London SEO Conferences 2009

If you are a SEO, what conferences will you attend in 2009?

Here are a few.  I will add more if I intend to attend.

Link baiting with unique data



This is my first time round with my current employer on using this (as far as I can tell) unique set of data in a easily digestible form.  If you take a look at the Hotel Price Index  there are stacks of stats about the industry.  The travel industry seems to love stats and quotes them daily.  This data has been picked up by big national/international players such as the BBC and on tv wtih CNBC to-date.

By breaking this up into managable pieces this is going to be distributed to special interest groups and targeted sites.

This is a work in progress project. Lets see how much PR and SEO pick up this time round gets.