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I decided to post since it's the sort of tweak that can effect many sites/pages in fairly literal ways. FWIW. Anyone else seeing it?
Wow, did a comparison with a singular and plural form, and i confirm caveman's observation. They are still associated (even if, say, the plural form is not actually used on a page), but ranking is a lot different now between the two searches -- like hundreds of places.
* <adjective> <noun>
* the <adjective> <noun>
If "the" or "a" is included, Google will tell you it is a common word, and it was not included in your search. Perhaps not, but it does alter the order of results.
Singular Widget: #1 for my website (for over 10 months) and #3 to #5 for major competitor.
Plural Widgets: last week in the 30's for my website and #4 to #6 for same competitor.
Widgets: this week in the high 40's for my website and still #4 to #5 for same competitor.
I've seen this kind of flucuation for the past 6 months at least. Doesn't seem to be anything new for our results.
Search "location jewelry"
Results #3-#5 - Lord of the Rings (showing at the location theater)
I tried this for other locations and it seems to happen only when there are no/few jewel stores in the location. Results for larger centers look normal.
If G can get from "jewelry" query to "Rings" results, G's semantic abilities are further developed than I had realised.
This seemed to be a tweak.
Agree with steveb that it is not limited to plurals; also includes other close-in word forms.
WRT plurals, if searchs on "widgets" and "widget" previously produced very similar results, starting last week, the results are in some cases now are quite different. The new SERP's, in this one resect, seem more similar to Y!, suggesting the possibility that G got more literal to on-page factors. That's not all bad, but would seem on the surface to be a step back from their previously more interpretive results.
Also, not everything we look at with this tweak makes sense to us yet. But then again, that's true with nearly everything G does. It's probably just us. We don't have a single PhD working here in the cave. :-)
If I search for "mykeyword clothes", the results show "mykeyword" and "clothes" in bold, but not "clothing".
The SERPs are different with the two searches as well. Not sure what all that means - I'll leave it to y'all to analyze :-)
[edited by: starlygirl at 5:51 pm (utc) on Oct. 28, 2004]
I'd assumed this was an algo tweak relating to the order of keywords, but it could easily be explained by a change in the handling of plurals.