On occasion, I have been asked about the difference between keywords that are singular and keywords that are plural. Does it matter which one you target? Do they rank differently on search engines? Combining my experiences with keyword research with a quick experiment, I wanted to share what I have concluded.
Let’s say we’re deciding between the keywords “Provo car dealership” and “Provo car dealerships.” We can use a couple of free keyword tools provided by Google to help determine which one would be the best to target while simultaneously discovering the difference of singular and plural versions.
First, let’s see what the Google AdWords Keyword Tool reveals as we compare:
As you can see from the image above, there is a difference in advertiser competition, local search volume, and global search volume in favor of the pluralized keyword “Provo car dealerships.” Even though this tool is focused for PPC campaigns, I feel that it is also useful for your SEO efforts in general.
Next, we’ll look at a comparison on Google Insights:
Even though there wasn’t any data for Provo specifically (Salt Lake City was the only metro available), the data for Utah revealed that the pluralized version (car dealerships) did receive more organic search volume than the singular version (car dealership). Furthermore, in the ‘Interest over time’ section, it seems that the gap has widened between the two during the whole year of 2009. My guess would be that this trend continues into 2010 and beyond.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the first search engine results page on Google for “Provo car dealership”:
Now, let’s compare the image above to the one below for “Provo car dealerships”:
Starting at the very top of the image, all of the local maps results are either different listings or in a different order when comparing the singular and plural keyword results. Obviously, this is pretty significant to note if you’re targeting a keyword with a local (city) qualifier.
Next, you’ll notice that seven of the 10 search results are in a different order, with the two last results being different websites altogether. This finding further reveals that entering in a singular keyword will display different search results than plural keywords.
It’s also interesting to see that the search results for the singular keyword bolded both “dealership” and “dealerships,” as well as “dealers” and “dealer” (and vice versa with the plural keyword).
Other Findings: Singular vs. Plural Keywords
In my experience with determining keywords for clients or personal websites, I have observed the same trends as displayed above. I’ve noticed that it’s important to determine which keyword receives the most search volume (i.e., what users type in the most), as well as what’s most realistic to target and rank for.
For example, perhaps the singular version of your desired keyword receives less search volume than the pluralized version, but has half of the competition. It might be worth it in the long run to target the singular version, as it could be easier to rank for on search engines. (And as you saw in the images above, you still might be able to rank for the plural keyword as well.)
Long story short, yes, there is a difference between singular and plural keywords and it can make a pretty significant difference in your online marketing campaign, whether it is SEO, PPC, or Google Maps.
I’m sure there are numerous tests you can try with different keywords. I’d be interested to see what anyone else can find and share.
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