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Does Google see words within words

will a search for "widget" return pages containing "widgeteers"

12:30 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I remember reading in some SEO guide that you should optimise for plurals rather than singular terms, as searches for the singular will retain pages containing the plural but not vice versa. So a search for "ear lobe" will return pages with the term "ear lobes". But a search for "ear lobes" will not return the "ear lobe" pages. Also this guide said that this wasn't true for irregular plurals (so a search for "foot" will not return pages with the word "feet")

What I want to know is:

a) Is this actually true as far as Google's concerned?
b) By extension, does this rule follow for any word contained within a word?

Let me explain that second question.

Because I am so parochial, I really dislike having US spellings all over my UK site. This isn't a problem for most things (a widget is a widget on both sides of the Atlantic), but I have discovered that many Americans search specifically for a "widget catalog". Now, to me, that should be "catalogue" (so same spelling but with an extra "ue"), but if I have the phrase "widget catalogue" on my page, will it show in searches for "widget catalog"?

PS US users please don't take offence!

12:33 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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AFAIK no, Google doesn't see words within words. However, if you search for your two spellings together, you'll find over a million results where people have used the two spellings on the same page to somewhat overcome this problem.
12:58 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Google does find words within words in german language, because it's very common but this isn't implemented in other languages.

So at least try to use both spellings in the meta keywords or try to add the shorter version somewhere in your incoming links...

1:22 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Google gives us webmasters extra work by seeing widget and widgets as totally different words. This you need to optimise your pages/site for all kinds of combinations. The same will go for your other example - catalog will not be seen by Google if you have only the word catalogue on your page. Thus, for example you'll have to have a title like

Widget Catalogue - An extensive catalog of widgets

or use different pages to "catch" different words or combinations. We sell a product which people search for using both singular and plural. Over the last months, I've been watching our rankings and making changes to pages to get us a better ranking where we do badly.

The work never ends!

I agree about our North American cousins. They do need to be taught how to spell. And how to drive on the left :)

1:27 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well, you can't blame Google for different spellings, it's just a search engine that runs a few programs and tries to make users happy...

Driving on the left? No one does that! That's weird! Well, okay, some do, even here in Austria, but they tend to have rather short and unfulfilled lives.

1:41 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Google does indeed see words in the way you describe, but only if they are at the start of the longer word. This works in the following way:

if you did a search for "online florists" and you come across a URL, for example, onlineflorists.com, Google notices the word "online", but not the word "florists".

This is why hyphenated domains are better than domains with adjoining (touching) words, since Google sees both words when hyphenated.

One way of looking at this visually is to check the Yahoo results. These are Google results, but the search terms are highlighted in bold. Examine which words come up in bold, and then you can see how the Google engine recognises words.


1:48 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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i was reading a post on (coff coff) another SEO forum on the possibility Google was experimenting with Natural Language Processing yesterday.

the poster had a screen dump of a google search for "Astrology Software" that included "Astronomy Software" results further down the page, as well as highlighting terms such as "Astro Software".

apparently the SERP changed shortly after to a more standard set of results, so whether this was a minor quirk or some engineers experiment, who knows?

sticky me for an URL of where you can see the screendump if you're interested.

(oh yeah - i personally don't have a clue what this means, but it sounded relevant - this post just jogged me memory :) )


2:03 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Our site has a keyword embedded in the URL but without hyphenation eg webmasterworld rather than webmaster-world.

We moved to this URL from a being a subdomain and jumped 5 places. By our ranking, I'd say that Google recognises the word within a word.

Its circumstantial, granted, and also begs the question >>
Is it better to have a keyword somewhere in your URL or your own brand name?


5:14 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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From the horse's mouth at [google.com...]

Word Variations (Stemming)

To provide the most accurate results, Google does not use "stemming" or support "wildcard" searches. In other words, Google searches for exactly the words that you enter in the search box. Searching for "googl" or "googl*" will not yield "googler" or "googlin". If in doubt, try both forms: "airline" and "airlines," for instance.

And, by extension, neither the nor rapist matches therapist.

6:06 pm on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Google requires webmasters to optimize for both the singular and plural form of a search term, if both are valuable to you. It also requires you to optimize for all kinds of variations. I work in an industry that has dozens of terms. In order to allow my audience to find my website, I need to optimize for many terms, in many forms. We have widget-r, widget-rw, wodget-r, wodget-rw, wodget+r, widget makers, wodget makers, widget creators, widget creation software, widget making software... you get the idea. There are many widget specifications, and hence, many terms.

When you add to this the requirement to cover the singular and plural forms, it is enough to drive you insane. You simply have to narrow your focus to a few phrases, and let the chips fall where they may.

I don't understand how merging "widget" and "widgets" into the same term would decrease search quality. In my opinion, it would increase search quality.


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