In the past, searches involving for “stop words” — prepositions, pronouns, articles, and other small words like “be” or “to” — would return a warning saying that these words were “a very common word and were not included in your search.” Now, searches involving stop words no longer do this.
Here is a before and after picture showing this. The before picture was taken from here:
Does this mean that Google no longer ignores stop words such as “a, and, is, on, of, or, the, was, with”? Or does it mean that Google simply no longer tells the searcher that Google is ignoring those stop words?
Google still has a page on Why won’t Google let me search for numbers or words like “how” and “the”? On that page, it says “Google ignores stop words when they’re placed in searches alongside less common words.”
Bill at SEO By The Sea links to a patent named Document compression scheme that supports searching and partial decompression that explains that Google now, in a sense, may use a searcher’s stop words when returning results. Bill explains, “The system would look for the less popular terms that appear in the query, and then look to see if the stop words in the query are nearby.”
So, does Google use stop words or not? I will try to get an official comment from Google on this and then postscript this article.