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If im selling widgets and my page title is:
big widgets, broken widgets: how to save your big broken widgets
Will SERPs, particularly Google not return my page when people search for 'big broken widget'?
Should my page title read:
big widget, broken widget: how to save your big broken widget.
Im guessing Google is quite clued up on this and would return me for that search query plural or not?
Thanks in advance
However, this semantic technology does NOT mean your page will rank in exactly the same spot for the singular version of a word that only occurs in its plural form in your title. It just means you are still "in the running" for that SERP. Pages from other sites that have an exact match might rank better than the stemmed variations.
One less thing to worry about, choosing keywords is difficult enough without plurals etc.
On that note, is there anything wrong with how im constructing those page titles? Could i improve them at all? How many comer separated words could i get away with before G saw it a keyword stuffing? Not that i would do much more, i want them to be human friendly etc.
Big widget, broken widgets: how to save your big broken widget.
...depending on which variation is searched for more.
In your case, it is easy to squeeze in both variations of the keyword in the title.
Is there any problem with how im using comers and colons? My understanding is that G sees these as separators, along with & and other characters. Is this correct?
Seeing Town & Country as 'Town' 'Country'
Where as it sees Town and Country as 'Town and Country'.
In my niche, there are always two common forms of the search phrase: "doodad widgets," and "widgets of doodads." (Fortunately, the singular "widget" is much less common.) I've found that the title "doodad widgets of doodads," while slightly awkward, ranks better for both phrases than either "doodad widgets" or "widgets of doodads," even though both of the latter titles will show up somewhere in a search for the other -- it just won't rank quite as well.
Now, in my case it may have more to do with the order of the words than singular vs. plural, but still, there is a notable benefit from including both forms in the title.
However, G is very good at finding related terms, synonyms, and other forms of the word. For example, my title above will still show up in a search for "doodad widget" or "doodad whatsits," where whatsit is a synonym for widget. So you definitely don't have to include every possible form of the phrase in your title -- you'll still get some ranking for other forms, even ones you never would have thought of.
If you can find an easy way to get both in that doesn't mess up your title, I'd go ahead and do it. Otherwise, don't worry too much about it.