Ask Yoast: stop words in your focus keyword?

If you want people to easily find your website, you should start by picking the right focus keywords (the keyword or keyphrase you’d like to rank for). Sometimes it can be hard to decide which keywords to optimize for. Do you have to focus on a head or a long tail keyword? Do you have to optimize your post or page for a focus keyword with or without a stop word? In this Ask Yoast we’ll explain in which case it would be better to use a stop word in a focus keyword.

Paul Lewis, a teacher at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia, emailed us asking:

“If I don’t use a stopword in my focus keyword I get a red bullet. “For instance, I use [Hotel Cimaja] instead of [Hotel in Cimaja]. Why is that so? Does it make a difference to Google?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Stop words in focus keyword

Read this transcript to learn more about using stop words in your focus keywords:

Yes, it makes a difference. It really depends on the keyword, though. But for travel related queries, where the competition is usually very high, you’ll see that there’s a different result in Google for the Hotel in Cimaja versus the Hotel Cimaja results, simply because pages are optimized differently.

So it really depends on how high the competition is, but you probably should optimize for the hotel plus location name, phrased just like that, because otherwise you won’t have a chance to rank whatsoever. Because in any hotel space you’re competing against huge sites anyway. You’re competing against the Expedias and the booking.coms of this world, so you have to optimize to your fullest extent to ever have a chance of ranking there.

What you could do though, if you’re writing about travel/hotels and you’re not ranking that well, is write about stuff related to that. Ask yourself: “What do I need to know when I’m traveling there? Or, what sort of keywords could I be searching for when I’m traveling there?” Look at all that stuff, create really unique and original content on those topics, instead of trying to rank for the same keyword that some of the most aggressively optimized sites in the world are trying to rank for.

Good luck!

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