Back in 2016, John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, explained why singular and plural keyword options might rank differently. Here, we will find out what he had explained about the algorithms to have a clearer idea of keyword ranking.
When selecting keywords to rank, SEO experts have one primary keyword to focus on. However, they also consider the importance of synonyms and related keywords to the focus keyword. Thus, including variations of singular and plural keyword becomes equally essential.
While SEO experts and content writers expect that the search engine will perceive related keywords in the same way, Google interprets the main context of a query and shows results accordingly.
For example, if you type ‘cars in Los Angeles’, you will get results of used car dealerships:
However, if you type ‘car in Los Angeles’, the results will be different:
Why are the results of the above singular and plural keyword different? Let us find out what Google’s analyst had to say.
John Mueller explained that Google views both queries differently and not similarly because there is a difference in the searched characters. The changed search terms make the Google algorithm present results that technically make more sense.
Mueller further explained that singular and plural keyword are recognized as synonyms. However, they are still different, and the results can vary. Moreover, you might find similar web pages ranking on the first page, but they might not be in the same order.
Mueller said that while synonyms have a similar impact, each has a unique element that sets them apart. Plural words are often used when looking for comparisons or category pages. So, Google considers this and shows results that differ from one to another.
The likeliness of getting different results when using singular and plural keyword is less compared to getting the same. There is no specific way to ensure that the results will be identical.
However, when targeting a keyword, using more synonyms can increase the probability of getting similar results. So, from a ranking point of view, it is wise to incorporate both singular and plural keyword to rank similarly.
It is also interesting to note that keywords with more specifications show similar results.
For example, if you type ‘cars Audi Los Angeles’, you get results of service providers:
The results are also similar when searching ‘car Audi Los Angeles’:
In this case, we can assume that the brand name Audi is more relevant than the term car or cars. Thus, the results are the same irrespective of the singular and plural keyword.
The previous example focused mainly on the term car or cars and did not specify the brand or requirement. It was a mere search that could mean buying, renting, leasing, or any random car brand. However, once a keyword becomes more specific, the results tend to be exactly as needed.
It is evident that Google tries to understand a user’s needs by presenting results that are most relevant to them.
As a search engine user, one needs to specifically type what they require to get accurate results that answer their query.
As SEO experts, we look at keywords from a ranking point of view to better understand placement and reachability.