SEO specialists and digital brands leading the SERPs already have an idea that search keywords are crucial in ranking on a digital niche — especially competitive ones. However, if you’re targeting plural and singular keywords for a while, you would notice that Google indexes them differently, implying that their differences could impact your SEO.
Moreover, in a Google Webmaster Office-hours Hangout session on June 26th, John Mueller pointed out why Google crawlers and its search engine index and rank closely-related words uniquely.
For instance, let’s say you’re an eCommerce site that provides a 24-hour electrician service in Sydney. You’ll want to rank on Google SERPs for 24-hour Sydney Electrician and 24-hour Sydney Electricians. But for whatever reason, you’ll notice a drastic difference in search rankings between the two keywords, where your site performs entirely different for each term.
To fully understand their difference, we need to discuss the root of the situation. First, it all boils down to simulating and satisfying a user’s search intent. With that, we dissect Google’s interpretation of plural and singular keywords as well as their impact on search engine optimisation.
Google’s Definition of Plural and Singular Keywords
During the Google Webmaster Hangouts session, John Mueller answered an interview question surrounding the difference in ranking singular and plural keywords.
Mueller highlighted that Google might interpret singular and plural keywords as different search intents, explaining why you would get a unique SERP for each term. Hence, just because a keyword is singular or plural doesn’t mean they fall under the same query.
It’s also possible that SEO specialists and webmasters see both keywords as different elements, depending on their frames of reference. Besides, Google simulates user intent on its SERPs, so the keywords likely have other search intent from the user-end.
That said, you should not essentially assume that search crawlers and Google will always consider plural and singular keywords as close synonyms and display similar search results for both versions.
Keywords & SEO
As stated, search intent can differ between synonyms, including the plural and singular keywords, regardless of your target topic and brand niche. Hence, you cannot assume that singular and plural keywords point to the same search results nor generalise that both keywords mean the same.
Instead, we can say that singular and plural keywords have differences in their variations. However, these intents will vary depending on use, topic, and niche. Repeating what Mueller stated on their Webmaster Hangout, Google sees singular and plural keywords as different elements and unique search intent from the users’ side.
For instance, if you’re an optical brand, user intent regarding eyeglass related keywords might differ between singular and plural terms. Google might show definitions for the term eyeglass and product sites for eyeglasses (Google it, we did).
Plural Or Singular Keywords: Which Should You Use?
Since you already know that Google interprets singular and plural keywords to be relevant to various search queries, you might stumble upon the question of whether using plural or singular keywords for your content.
Here are some differences between singular and plural keyword intent:
- People often use singular keywords for informative search queries, recommendations, or broad topics about a particular subject.
- People would use plural keywords when searching for product, website, or service comparisons, including intents, to buy a product.
As a result, you need to focus on your users’ intent when conducting keyword research. Going back to the eyeglass example, you can target the eyeglasses keyword more frequently for your product pages and category pages. Then you could focus on the keyword eyeglass for your blog post and informative articles about the product and its features.
Why Singular and Plural Keywords Rank Differently
Google’s algorithm updates made it more refined and advanced to satisfy user search intent better. By learning to deliver the best user experience possible, Google remembers and anticipates user behaviour when typing in every search query.
Therefore, if you’re looking to rank better on your target keywords, you must consider how users will use Google and other search engines to look for and engage with your content.
As stated, singular keywords are mostly for informative search intent, while plural keywords point to product search intent. That’s why you would get different search results when typing in both terms, as Google sees them differently.
How to Optimise Your Page with Plural and Singular Keywords
Keep in mind that search engines use latent semantic indexing keywords and synonyms to provide relevant and accurate search results. However, the case for singular and plural keyword variants is different, as user intent is crucial when choosing to target one word or the other.
Besides, adding semantic keywords and synonyms in a page is how crawlers rank web pages. So if you want search engines to rank you on the right keywords accurately, make sure that you understand the user intent and create compelling content that’s relevant with that search behaviour.
Keyword Mistakes You Should Avoid
- Executing keyword research poorly
Implementing thorough keyword research for large-scale websites can be daunting, and many people tend to skip this time-consuming process. More often than not, this would lead to poor-quality content stuffed with keywords that won’t drive sales and doesn’t satisfy user intent.
Regardless of your niche and website scale, you need to take the time diving into your audience’s language. Don’t assume that you already know which words are the most useful, as your audience and trends may change in a whim, including your brand focus and priorities.
- Focusing on irrelevant keywords
Leading brands that target several keywords often have competitive niches, making it challenging to rank better. With that, you should only focus on keywords that matter and are impactful for your content.
Avoid aiming for unrealistic keywords and gear up your keyword research for long-tail keywords. Instead of creating content for general keywords, look for unique or specific terms in your brand and work on ranking them as part of your long-term keyword research strategy.
- Neglecting user search intent
We’ve discussed the impact of search intent when ranking singular and plural keywords. With that, you should ensure that you know the search intent behind every search keyword you target.
People might look for information about your site or its products, or shop online and purchase something from your website. And because search engines are attempting to simulate these intents to come up with accurate results, a content that doesn’t correspond to user intent won’t rank on SERPs, no matter how compelling it is.
- Focusing on fewer keywords in your content
If you’re writing content that’s long enough to rank better (roughly 1500 words), it might share ranking opportunities to multiple keyphrases and semantic terms as well. Therefore, if your content can rank for long-tail key phrases, then you should avoid focusing on one or two keywords for every post.
- Ignoring singular and plural keyword differences
More often than not, people who write long-tail keywords tend to target singular and plural terms altogether. Since Google recognises that singular and plural search queries have unique search intents, you wouldn’t want to appear on a search results page that you’re not focusing on rank.
To avoid losing organic traffic and site reputation on specific keywords, always put user intent above your keyword research and target tense-specific keywords. Regardless of whether you should focus on singular or plural terms, make sure that you’re using them according to their intent.
- Failing to audit and evaluate
Your strategy doesn’t end the moment you published your content live. If you want to make sure you’re on the right track, you have to audit and evaluate your metrics and performance regularly.
One way of doing that is by monitoring organic traffic on your page through Google Analytics. Another is by conducting a Google search in a private browser with no personalised search. Failing to do so is like turning a blind eye on your efforts, leaving you and your team clueless about whether you should focus on less competitive search terms or long-tail keyword variants.
While it takes a single letter to draw the line between plural and singular keywords, their impacts on SEO can be drastic and unique. That said, knowing when to use each term can unlock several opportunities for you to boost your SEO strategy and potentially rank your site on top of Google SERPs.
The impact of singular and plural keywords in SEO all boils down to user search intent. Hence, learning your audience’s language and knowing what keywords they use should help you drive traffic and sales on your site.
Designing and streamlining actionable keyword research and SEO strategy is also possible with a reliable SEO agency in Sydney. With the latest information and a best-in-class SEO Strategy, you can achieve your long-term objectives with Red Search.
At Red Search, our time-tested and passionate team of search experts uses results-focused and data-driven SEO strategy to secure and maintain your rank on the first page of SERPs.
For your questions and enquiries, feel free to call our SEO experts at 1300 101 712 and drop a message in our contact form.
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