Alternate spellings of words sometimes yield different results in search engine results pages. So, when keyword targeting your pages, how should you handle plurals and misspellings? What should you target? Do a search on “plural vs. singular keywords” and you will find conflicting advice. Some say: “Target the plural because it contains the singular”. Others say: “Target the singular because it’s less competitive”. In fact, deciding which strategy to choose is a complex issue and depends on both the keyword and who is searching for it.
First, which form should be keyword targeted can depend on the word. In most cases, a plural keyword has a different meaning than a singular keyword (although the difference is often slight). In general, the singular refers to the abstract while the plural is used for the more concrete meaning – “The dog is man’s best friend” as opposed to “Dogs are nice”.
Everybody knows that a picture can be worth a thousand words but did you know that, on the web, seven words can be worth a picture? In a great article on A List Apart this month, Amber Simmons writes about the importance of good writing to the design of a website.
One thing that struck me was her remarks about the use of text in the alt attribute of images. Accessibility guidelines state that every visible image on your site should have text in the alt attribute. For search optimization, we recommend that the alt attribute text should include the key phrase being targeted for the page but this isn’t just about SEO. After all, the image should reflect the page theme just like the key phrase. Otherwise, why is the image on the page?
Optimization of a web page for better natural search results is all about the proper placement of keywords. Changing URL filenames to include them can be a big undertaking, so it isn’t always high on the list of SEO priorities. Make no mistake, however; it is important. Even so, changing URLs has always needed a little more consideration than other types of optimization because after all, the URL is a webpage’s address and changing your address is always at least a little complicated — even if you are a web page.
So, is it worth it to change your URLs? There are two main questions:
If the URLs on your site look like this, then there are too many:
URL file names with more than two parameters run the risk of not being followed by search engine spiders. One easy way to see how many parameters are in your URLs is to count the “=” signs. More than two means that you definitely should consider a rewrite.
Sure, this URL will make it into the listings, but it will get no special advantage for ranking in the search engine results pages.
Whether or not you decide to change URLs can depend on whether or not you’re having a ranking problem, how competitive your key phrase is and if the return is going to be worth the time and effort you’ll need to invest. In fact, for those all-important specific searches with the higher conversion rates, the difference in results could be the difference between whether you or your competitor gets the sale. That alone could make it all worthwhile. So what should a fully optimized URL look like?