Why You Should NOT Always Remove Stop Words From URLs (Hint: When You Let Yoast Remove These, It Makes Your URLs Read Funny)

If you’re considering removing stop words from your URLs to make them look cleaner, please DO NOT enable this as the default option in your permalink settings.

Stop Words are words like the, a, is, with… and other short words which some people omit because they think it makes their URLs shorter and cleaner. But that’s not always the case…

Removing stop words can actually hurt your SEO because it can make your URLs read differently. For example, /growing-up-with-hearing-loss/ is NOT the same thing as /growing-hearing-loss/ (the version where stop words are removed). You can remove these manually if it actually sounds better, but you should assess this on a page-by-page basis.

Stop words might not always cause URLs to read differently, but they definitely can. I just finished going through 300 URLs on a website which had stop words removed via Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin (they changed their permalink structure so they hired me to add redirects). 100 of them didn’t read well so I changed their new permalinks to include them.

Here are just a few examples of how stop words can butcher URLs…

Stop-words

Obviously the URLs read much nicer with  stop words. Especially if the URL is going to be short anyway (/what-is-hearing-loss/) it simply doesn’t make sense to remove these.

 

How To Prevent Stop Words From Being Removed

Most SEO tools like Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin have an option to “remove stop words from slugs” in the permalink settings. In Yoast you can find this under SEO –> Advanced –> Permalinks. Then look under “clean up permalinks.” Here’s what it looks like in Yoast…

Stop words seo

That’s all you need to know! You can find other permalink structure tips here otherwise leave me a comment if you have any questions. Hope this was helpful!

Cheers,

Tom signature

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

59 thoughts on “Why You Should NOT Always Remove Stop Words From URLs (Hint: When You Let Yoast Remove These, It Makes Your URLs Read Funny)

  1. I was searching for stop words in long tail keywords and other blogs then found this one. I removed stop words from slug and focus keywords as suggested by Yoast free which actually will not clarify the post from the slug. Thanks for this post. What should I do? Should I rewrite old urls also? My blog started in Sep.2017 only. Self-learning, writing, developing. Will be grateful if you can have a look and give suggestions to improve.

    1. It is really situational on the keyword. First thing you want to do is research your keyword (eg. in Google Autocomplete). Try to include whatever words you find in your Autocomplete keywords. You can remove stop words only if it doesn’t.

      If you’re targeting “being a perfectionist” (though this keyword is too competitive and you should choose a longer-tail version (eg. being a perfectionist and anxiety)… or whatever topic you’re writing. Then you can leave the permalink as being-a-perfectionist-and-anxiety. The permalink is a good length, has your keywords, and describes the content. These are the general rules :)

  2. Hello Sir, Your article is really informative but could you help me solve the issue i have. Let’s suppose, my actual slug is /couple-meaning-in-urdu (this keyword “meaning in urdu” has a great traffic). So what should i do? should this URL be replaced by couple-meaning-urdu or couple-urdu-meaning?
    Please help decide to choose right one. Looking forward to your reply.

    1. If a URL already has a decent amount of traffic, there’s no need to change it especially if it’s to take out a stop word. Changing permalinks should only be done if the URL does not have a lot of traffic and doesn’t describe the post at all. But in your case, it still does.

      Hope that helps.

  3. Hi, Thnx for sharing this article. I was also thinking not to use stop word but I was confuse and now I have read this article now I think it’s important to use that. Many thnx for guidance.

  4. Indeed, I found that it perfectly answers my question. As I was curious about the Yoast plugin always telling me that I have stop words in my URL. However, to remove them would mean that in most cases the URL wouldn’t read right!
    So, I guess I will leave them, thanks.

    Simon

  5. Great post and info! I was wondering what you recommend to correct the 404 errors on websites where the post url changed because slug is now including stop words (after Yoast stopped implementing this feature in latest update)?

  6. Great point! I never really thought about this, as I’ve been using Yoast for years, since well before he introduced this feature, and I guess legacy users don’t have this feature automatically enabled.

    But one of my new new sites with Yoast has stop words removed by default, and after reading this, I’m going to have to go back and disable that feature. Thanks for the heads up!

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