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IT is in common usage as an abbreviation for "Information Technology" and people may search on it as that, such as "IT Support". However, it is also a "stop word".

Any suggestions for optimal SEO usage?

Edit: In line with the answers, on reviewing the search engine results, it seems that they are mostly interpreting "IT" correctly. The overall context I'm sure helps, so thus far, I'm going to stay with "IT".

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Actually, the concept of stop words no longer exists with semantic search. These words are now found as important factors in determining search intent. Yes, for the most part, a, as, it, they, and so forth are words with less importance overall, however, they are no longer ignored. As well, their proximity to keywords becomes very important in determining semantic search intent.

This was a lesson learned in 2008 with all the research work found in Scholar. You will notice that Scholar has disappeared. This is because Scholar has been rolled into the Google search algorithms over the years and is no longer needed. During this process, it was discovered that stop words have value and began to be indexed to support citations and semantic intent.

Now to answer your question: Since stop words are no longer a factor, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! can fairly easily determine the intent of it as you wrote it. There are still some growing pains in other languages, but for English content, this whole process works extremely well.

If you listen to Google carefully over the past couple of years with Panda, Penguin, and so forth, there is a subtle message to stop thinking in terms of keywords per se' and focus on conversational title tags, header tags, links, and using keywords less as keywords to manage but rather as natural elements of the content where each HTML element supports the content overall.

Recently, Google has been discounting lists of keywords favoring natural uses. I found that even with semi-conversational uses of lists, performance can drop. I had to adjust sentences like Research domain example.com whois, dns, IP address. and drop the listed words whois, dns, IP address leaving only Research domain example.com.. Google is rewarding not using keywords in this manner and successfully finds the search intent by finding these keywords in the content thus increasing keyword importance within content. I did not lose the value of whois, dns, and IP address as a result. It actually increased because these terms are found in the content rather than in HTML elements such as title, headers, etc. In content, use of keywords has increased importance.

Why did I tell you this? Simple. Google is seriously focusing on conversational uses within tags and content more these days and is able to more accurately determine content topic and value. Google is trying to erase traditional SEO keyword manipulations thinking that discounting keyword focus is a major step toward stopping spamdexing. Google has been stressing using conversational HTML elements and not to focus on older SEO ideologies. Google is rewarding the use of conversational title tags and header tags. They no longer want you to think in terms of keywords and focus on natural content.

Final Thought: Do not worry about keywords as we have been trained to do. (Old habits die hard.) Yes, pay attention to the keywords you use, but make them a natural part of developing content and not as something to manage. Do not worry about how you use keywords as clues to search engines but rather if you are reflecting your topic accurately with the words (not keywords) you chose.

  • All of the answers were quite good, but this answer was quite in depth, thus the check mark. – Jahmic Aug 23 '14 at 9:13
  • I found your 5th paragraph very difficult to comprehend. One reason is the sentence: "I found that even with semi-conversational uses of lists can drop in performance." (Of the 3 words I italicized, either one needs to be removed, or some other missing words need to be added, to make this a readable sentence.) Aside from that, I found it hard to tell exactly what you're saying about the particular search query described in this paragraph, what you changed, and how Google's results changed based on which version of the query you used. Can you expand it just a bit further? – Dan Henderson Oct 19 '16 at 15:42
  • @DanHenderson Sometimes my fingers get ahead of my brain. ;-) Sorry. I edited the paragraph. Essentially, I was saying that conversational (sentences) titles and headers are best and to leave comma separated lists out of these HTML elements. Lists are important semantic clues, however, I found that much of the time, based upon my experience and knowledge, lists within title and headers are ineffective compared to finding the terms within content - ie. paragraphs, tables, list elements, etc. Google understands sentences and trends better than we know. Cheers!! – closetnoc Oct 19 '16 at 16:31
  • @closetnoc I see now, your examples were content within your page code, not terms entered into the search engine as I had previously surmised. Also, that one sentence looks much better now! – Dan Henderson Oct 19 '16 at 18:27
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    @DanHenderson Some days I am not my best... getting old and senile. ;-) Thanks for the comment! I want all answers to be the best they can be. Even if I have to edit or delete my own, what is important is that people find good answers. Cheers!! – closetnoc Oct 19 '16 at 18:33
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Don't worry about this, search engines know how to make a difference between 'IT' and 'it'. They can work out the meaning of the word according to the context.

Just use the word in a natural way in natural sentences. This is the optimal SEO usage.

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Google knows it and information technology are synonyms and manages it as a non stop word in some cases (for example when it's combined with support).

That's why in this case, you should choose the word you want without thinking about SEO.

To decide:

  1. if you can ask which word to use to a person with a marketing view, do it
  2. if you need to decide yourself, you can think about the most popular word (I think that in your case, it's it)
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For "optimal" SEO, it has to do with the full keyword. Naturally you don't promote your site under "information technology", it must have something with it.

Try google for example "IT spend", you'll find that in the SERP it appears that same way, and not under "information technology spend". This reflects how this term is used in the industry. If you google "information technology spend", then you'll get results with "IT Spend" (so, Google abbreviates it). This gets tricky however when you compare google's SERP for "information technology trends" and "IT trends". You get different results for each, since both seem to be used quite often.

I'm not sure if "IT Support" is your exact word or just an example. If that's the word, you should definitely keep it "IT support" since no one uses "information technology support". Otherwise, see how your keyword is used in the industry in question, plus check in Adwords' keyword research which one is more popular (the slightly more popular might be a mistake, though), and then put it in the title accordingly.

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