jimbeetle - 6:45 pm on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)
Isn't it possible that the Google algorithm has judged the page to be OVER-optimized for the plural form, in which case this would be the result of a penalty?
No, no and no. If the page were over-optimized* then it would simply not fit what the algorithm wants to see. If the algorithm wants to see this...
| * |
...and you show it...
* | |
| | *
...then the page simply isn't going to rank. But to call this a penalty is simply incorrect**.
And as long as many people keep referring to a normal situation such as this as a "penalty" they will never really learn how to optimize a page for search. Penalty is mostly used as a crutch, kind of like "I don't know why I'm not ranking and I don't know how to find out, so Google must have penalized me." People have to stop talking about penalties where there are none and actually understand how a search engine algorithm works.
*Argh! I hate that term 'cause there ain't really such a thing: It's either optimal or it's not.
**And yes, I realize that even Matt Cutts has bowed to the collective pressure and has used the term over-optimization, but he has used it to mean really overdoing it with blatant keyword stuffing and such.