Back in March Hitwise published its UK search report on differences between plural and singular keyword forms echoed by multiple bloggers enthusiastically encouraging webmasters to focus efforts on plural because plural form was proved to send more traffic.
Recent news on Google Trends new makeover prompted me to test the tool again and this brought me back to plural vs singular considerations. Let’s look what Google has to say on [laptop vs laptops] difference discussed in Hitwise report:
See? The difference is amazing. According to Google [laptop] is three times as popular as [laptops] throughout the world (in UK the singular version is twice as popular). Hard to believe, isn’t it? So either Google is wrong (which is even harder to believe) or this might mean the following:
Google is considering broad match – thus all the millions of possible phrases containing “laptop” fall under [laptop] search.
This theory is supported by more comparing of the two sources (Hitwise and Google): [free laptop] holds with Hitwise the first place within singular terms and indeed Google agrees that it is much more popular than its plural counterpart:
And if we take Hitwise’s most popular plural term [cheap laptops], we will see that the two sources again come into line:
Thus though when taken isolated, the keyword in its plural form is more popular, in long tail |laptop| searches are much higher than |laptops|. This probably also accounts for a great number of Noun+Noun constructions where singular usually prevails: e.g. laptop bags, laptop deals, laptop batteries.
This brings us to very important conclusions:
- when choosing what to optimize for, look at the keyword in phrase (not isolated one);
- thoroughly think over your website structure to “catch” the Longtail with both singular and plural version of the word.