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Plural Search Terms Get Better Results

Posted on 3.10.2008
A recent analysis by Hitwise at SES focused on the difference between searches for a singular term (laptop) and plural term (laptops). The results are pretty significant.

The analysis was conducted using top product searches sending traffic to HitWise's Shopping and Classified category, searching for both the singular and plural terms of the same search query. Value was given as total search volume and percentage of those queries that ended with a visit to a Shopping and Classified site. For example, mobile phone sent 30% of searchers to a Shopping and Classified site with a search volume of (.0014%.) Mobile phones sent 31% with a search volume of (.0066%.) Digital camera, 21.1% (.0011%), Digital Cameras 33.7% (.0027%.) Book, 15% (.0013%), Books, 37.2% (.0019%.)

There were some conflicting terms. LCD TV sent 43.2% (.0020%), while LCD  TVs sent only 42.9% (.0010%.) iPod sent 25.2% (.0074%) while iPods sent 33.1% (.0015%). When looking at search volume there are a couple of explanations for this. First is branding - LCD TV is a commonly branded term in the marketplace, but not so much with LCD TVs. In the same way, people know the term iPod but don't use iPods - there are other MP3 players, but only one iPod brand.

Second, there is an element of common sense and usage of the English language working here. If a user is shopping for cameras, they will likely be looking at several different brands and styles, hence the plural, digital cameras. Same goes with phones and books. You have to think about your search terms as a consumer would. Think about it in conversation - "I'm shopping for digital cameras." "I'm shopping for an LCD TV." "I'm shopping for books." "I'm shopping for an iPod."

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