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More Strange Google Behaviour - my referring keywords went plural

     
4:45 pm on Dec 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just wanted to add an update to my last thread but it appears to be locked.

[webmasterworld.com...]

Since Nov 19 traffic levels have gone up and down by 5%.

A really strange thing happened on Nov 27.

The majority of my big incoming keywords changed to the plural form.

Ex.

blue widget (before Nov 27)

blue widgets (after Nov 27)

I have made no changes to the pages in question.

I am really scratching my head and trying to understand how this happened.

1:17 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I know from experience that G will regard the singular and the plural as the same om a search. It could be a change in the way G process the searches or it could just be random factors in your visitors' choices of search.

I haven't noticed any changes on my site but most searches are on terms such as "music" which would not be affected.

1:39 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would say that Google sees the singular and plural forms as related, but not always as "the same". I definitely see different SERPs in some cases.

My guess is they have developed a pretty sophisitcated semantics algorithm around this kind of thing -- such as measuring for what words a singular search shows the same user intention as the plural, and for what words the two searches are definitely different, or sometimes different, and so on.

None of which fully explains why your traffic found a tipping point from one word form to the other. It's certainly an interesting observation.

In my own mind, I've been calling the end of November changes the "holiday algo" or the "shopping algo". One of the factors I think I've seen over time is that shoppers often search for plural noun forms, even though the web pages that might best suit their query often use the singular. If Google wanted to better serve shoppers for this year-end period, then they might well tilt that algo a bit further toward serving singular form pages, even though the plural form is the exact character match.

< caveat: that's a bunch of conjecture on my
part. I have no solid statistics to back any of it. >

4:40 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The plural keywords are actually performing better for me, it seems to be higher quality traffic.

Now if I could only figure out what triggered this change...