Why Google May Rank Singular and Plurals


Nov 10, 2016
Google Explains Why Singular and Plurals Rank Differently
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
August 28, 2018

Roger Montii looks at why search results for singular and plural versions of the same word may sometimes be different.
In a recent Google Hangout someone asked the following question:

What are reasons for completely different positions for keywords in singular and plural? We have some examples where the plural ranks in top five and the singular isn’t in the top 100.

Google’s John Mueller answers:

The search intent should be very similar. So depending on what is happening there we might be seeing these as something a little different.

So just because one is singular and one is plural doesn’t mean that we would show the same search results for those kinds of queries.

It’s very possible that we see these as completely different elements and maybe even as completely different intent from the user side.

So that’s something were I wouldn’t necessarily assume that Google will always treat singular and plural words as complete synonyms and… show exactly the same search results for those two versions.

As a site owner, it might be worth thinking about what users might be searching differently and if my site’s really the most relevant one for people who are searching for singular version of this word versus those searching for the plural version.
Montii then goes into some details about possible scenarios.

For example, searches for "teddy bear", which Google may assume reflects a search for information:
When you search for Teddy Bear, Google shows a Wikipedia result at the top of the page. That is an indication that the top user intent for that particular search phrase (teddy bear) is informational.
In contrast,
Google shows predominantly commercial web pages for the plural version of the phrase, teddy bears. This is an indication that most people who search for teddy bears are satisfied with search results that show commercial web pages at the top.