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Google rankings change if keywords are singular / plural



12:08 am on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Some people have noticed changes in the latest listings - lucky people have gone back to their original position.

I have now completely dissapeared.

Went from #4 to #90, and now to nowhere in the top 400 (I gave up after that).

My keyword string is plural i.e. widgets. I have just noticed (completely by accident) that if I type widget that the top 10 is identical to pre-florida, and I am fourth again.

Anyone else get this, and what if any is the relevance?



5:51 am on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

That is interesting. At first glance it seems as though they can place a different weight on the stemmed versions of the query and they have adjusted that.
For example, it seems

That in mid november to late december, when someone searched for 'location wedding', equal weight was given to the appearance of wedding or weddings within the page.

Now it seems when someone searches for 'location wedding', the appearance of 'wedding' is given more weight than 'weddings' although the stemming is still present.


6:22 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have the same problem that I just noticed today. I used to be number 3-6 for my index page for my main two-word keyword before Florida. Then completely disappeared now at 275.(not good at all; traffic cut to 1/4 of what I had before Fla.)

However, I just did a search with my main two word keyword with an s at the end of the second part of the keyword phrase and I am at number one with google! Then I did a search with an s at the end of the first part of my keyword phrase and I am at number one too! I do not understand this at all. Can someone please explain the rationale of this to me. Does this make any sense at all? Thank you. Is there anything that I can do about this?


9:37 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I hate stemming. It seems to have made things very confusing. Some words just dont work. Plus its messed with my rankings totally


9:43 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Same thing at my site. I used to be number one for 'blue widget', but then disappeared. Now I am #1 for 'blue widgets' plural, which gets me about 1/4 the traffic. Three or four of the sites that come up for the singular term are totally irrelevant.



10:28 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

wellzy, what you are describing is the exact same for me.

I suspect it is because the word 'widget' is incorporated in the word 'widgets' but not vice-versa. Strange as it may sound if there were some sort of OOP then 'widget' would be hit harder than 'widgets'.


11:24 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hasn't google always done that? I thought that Google was just barely beinning to look at singular and plural the same under certain phrases.


1:01 am on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Do you think that this plural vs singular thing (stemming)is a flaw in google. Because for the life of me, it does not make any sense to me that my main two word keyword phrase would be number 275 now (used to be number 3) and number one if I put an s at the end of either of the words, which by the way most people would not use them in a search.

Is there anything that we can do about this? Thanks


3:46 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

There are different theories on that. One deals with over optimization. This would explain the lost a rank for the exact phrase.

Just Guessing

4:06 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There seem to be about 3 different things going on with singular and plurals (and other stemming variations).

1. Although Google matches both singular and plural, it seems to put more weight on the variation used in the search term, so the rankings are different for singular and plural search terms.

2. Occasionally for a particular search term, stemming kicks in for one veriation but not the other. e.g. singular matches plural, but plural does not match singular. This is Google just getting it wrong! I have also seen Google going badly wrong with other word variations, like matching Win and Winning in a search for Wine! A case of slurring its words after too much Christmas booze?

3. Sometimes the "Florida algo" or "new algo" kicks in for one word variation but the "old algo" kicks in for the other variation. In this case you get very different results for singular and plural!

Also Google uses some semantics and matches different word variations for the same word in different contexts. I think GG quoted an example of Bushes not matching Bush in a search for George Bush.


4:07 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My whole theory initially was that I was being penalized for my main two word keyword from google. Now I wonder if I really am being penalized for it since I am coming up number one if I add an s to either half of it. But then again, many of the websites that were in the top ten before Fla. are still there without the plural and are also there with the plural except for two and me. The sites that were added to the top 50 since Fla are weird sites; sites like individual amazon books with the keyword name in it or links to headlines from online newspapers with that keyword in it.

Oh wonderful, I just checked and now I've dropped another 100 spots. I am at 375. That happened over night.


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