SEO copy – Plural or Singular Keywords?

November 8, 2006 •

When you’re writing your SEO copy, chances are there’ll come a time when you’ll wonder whether you should target the plural of your keyword or the singular.

e.g. Do I target “tennis shoe” or “tennis shoes”?

To answer this question, the first thing you need to do is find out what your target visitors are actually searching for. If the vast majority are searching for “tennis shoes”, then you’d target that, and forget about “tennis shoe”.

However, in the real world, things are rarely so black and white. More often than not, the number of searches for each will be similar, and you’ll still be left wondering which would be the more effective keyword.

Your next step is to think about why visitors search for one and not the other. It may be that people search for “tennis shoe” when they’re researching whether to buy a tennis shoe or a running shoe. On the other hand, people may search for “tennis shoes” when they want to actually buy a pair online. In this case, if you were selling tennis shoes, you’d most likely choose “tennis shoes” as your keyword phrase.

Still no closer to a decision? Maybe you can target both… If the only difference between the singular and the plural is the addition of an “s” or “es” on the end, you can simply target the plural. You’ll be targeting the singular in the process. e.g. Target “tennis shoes” and you’ll be automatically targeting “tennis shoe” at the same time.

But if your plural is more than the addition of an “s” or “es”, never fear. In reality, you can target either and still enjoy a high ranking. Google is smart enough to identify the relationship between plural and singular. It knows that people who search for the plural may still get some value out of sites that target the singular. It’s true that – all else being equal – when a user searches for the plural, a site that targets the plural will outrank your site that targets the singular. But you can swing the balance in your favor simply by working harder on the number and quality of your inbound links. e.g. Take, for example, the distinction between “copywriters” and “copywriter”. My copywriting website, Divine Write, targets “copywriter”, but it still outranks most sites that target “copywriters”. That’s mostly because I have more inbound links.

Feel free to comment...
comment avatar
daretoeatapeach wrote on September 17th, 2011

Thanks, this was more helpful and better written than the other articles I looked up. I'm wondering, is there a penalty to using both the singular and the plural?

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on September 18th, 2011

Nope, there's no penalty. Natural writing will always have both, so Google definitely wouldn't penalise you for that sort of stuff. :-)

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Sanjeev Kumar wrote on May 3rd, 2013

I don't think that Google is smart enough to identify the relationship between plural and singular. I had few test and got Google ranking site vary in between singular and plural.

comment avatar
Sanjay Maharjan wrote on September 8th, 2013

Researching is the most important part in SEO. I read an article before this one, and it says that conversion and CTR is high in singular keywords because the searchers are not looking for options. Whereas, in plural keywords, searchers might be looking for options that are available.

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