Keyword research is a vital part of search engine optimization (SEO) because it helps us find the best combinations of keywords to help websites grow their organic search traffic. As we know, when someone Googles something, they use keywords related to what they want to find, like a specific style of shoe, and Google’s algorithm scours the web to find the best matches. Keyword stemming is another piece of the SEO puzzle that can help you extend your reach even further and give you a little more freedom when it comes to writing your content.

Here, you can learn more about how keyword stemming is an important piece of your Bellevue SEO.

What is Keyword Stemming?

Keyword stemming is part of Google’s ability to understand that different forms of words — like run, runs, ran, and running — are basically the same thing when you type in a search query. It realizes that pluralization, prefixes, and suffixes may alter the way the word is used grammatically, but the word itself still means the same things. Google incorporated keyword stemming into its algorithm in English over 10 years ago, and it added other languages later on.

The great thing about keyword stemming is that it means exact keyword matching is not always necessary; Google understands that “things to do in California” and “things to do in CA” are essentially the same thing, so you should show up in the search rankings under both terms. As long as you have a good keyword density, you do not need to worry about the exact matches as much, Google’s algorithm has a good understanding of search intent now, so it is better at finding the right matches based on your searches than it was a few years ago.

It is important to note that Google does not use keyword stemming for every search inquiry. It depends on the exact search query and the user intent the Google search algorithm detects as to whether or not it will use keyword stemming.

Stemming vs. Stuffing

At one point in time, you could find five different variations on “hiking in California” in a single 500-word article because of how search engines handled queries. Thankfully, search engines no longer handle queries like this, so we can have more interesting content available online that is not blatantly stuffed with keywords. You no longer need to have exact matches to your keywords, because thankfully, Google now understands the similarities when processing a query.

Keyword stemming takes the root word and figures out the different variations of it. This means you do not need to spend time keyword stuffing, trying to squeeze every single variation of keywords into every page. In fact, Google no longer ranks pages that are stuffed with keywords. Generally, readers are not fond of pages like that either, so your content needs to use related keywords and synonyms to make your content rank better and be more enjoyable for your readers.

Since Google penalizes you for keyword stuffing, the algorithm offering keyword stemming is a great way to help you avoid that while still getting to utilize the variations of those keywords. With keyword stemming, you can focus more on creating quality content without having to force “run,” for example, into a sentence when “running” is what really fits.

Variation in Keywords

Since we want to avoid keyword stuffing, using keyword stemming alone is not necessarily enough to fully optimize your content and hold your audience’s attention. Instead of writing the same keyword over and over in every other sentence, try using some synonyms. For example, if you are writing about candy, you can use variations like “sweets” to switch things up. You can also use related keywords like “caramel” and “chocolate,” to give yourself even more variety. This keeps your content interesting and helps you optimize for a broader audience, and it helps you avoid overstuffing your keywords.

How do I Find Keyword Stems?

There are a lot of tools available to help you identify the variations in your keywords, though they are not always as straight forward as keyword research.

Another option is to hire a professional, such as Bellevue PR, who can help improve your SEO overall and identify keywords that can be adjusted for stemming and to help you avoid stuffing.

One popular option is to go to Google and see what auto-population suggestions it gives you when you type in your keywords. This is not the best way to find your keyword variations, but it can come in handy if you need some quick ideas for your keywords.

When You Should Not Use Keyword Stemming

As is the case with keywords in general, overusing or misusing keyword stemming in an attempt to trick Google can lead to lower-quality content. For example, if you are writing about hiking trails, you might be using “hiking in California,” and Google might recognize “hiker in California” as a stem. The problem here is you are not writing about hikers themselves, you are writing about hiking, so that variation does not fit the context and it might be viewed as an attempt to trick Google.

Do not use keyword stemming if it does not fit with the context of the content or the variation is not really related to the stem word in some way. For example, both “population” and “popular” have the same root, but their definitions are wildly different. Keeping the context and search intent in mind when stemming keywords into groups is important.


Keyword stemming is an important part of SEO because it accounts for different variations of the keywords you are already using to help increase your organic traffic. It gives you more freedom to focus on creating quality content without worrying about having to cram in as many versions of your keywords as possible. Stemming, like all of SEO, can be complex, but Bellevue Public Relations is here to help with all of your Bellevue SEO needs. Contact us today to get started.