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…
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…
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!