QUESTION 1:

Can you tell me which search engines consider plural keywords in the same way as singular keywords, and which don't?

Fardin Ahmed

Answer:

Hi Fardin,

In order to detect which search engines consider plurals to be the same as singulars and which don't, you need to type in the singular and plural version of the keyword in a search engine and see if the results produced are the same or different. If the results are the same for both keywords, then the search engine interprets plural keywords in the same way as singular keywords. If the results are different, then the search engine interprets plural keywords differently from singular keywords.

In order to answer this question, I did some research in the major search engines and directories. I selected two keywords - "debt consolidation loan" and "debt consolidation loans" and typed these two keywords in each of the major search engines and directories. Here's what I found:

i) AltaVista considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

ii) AOL considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

iii) Fast considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

iv) Google considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

v) Hotbot first takes its results from Direct Hit and then from Inktomi. Since Direct Hit considers the plural keyword to be the same as the singular keyword, the first few results in Hotbot are the same for both the plural and singular versions of the keyword. However, for the results taken from Inktomi, the results for the singular and plural versions of the keyword are different.

vi) IWon considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

vii) Looksmart considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

viii) Lycos considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

ix) MSN considers the plural keyword to be the same as the singular keyword.

x) Netscape considers the plural keyword to be the same as the singular keyword.

xi) The Open Directory considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

xii) Yahoo! considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword.

However, note that the above results are true as of the time that I am writing this. A search engine which considers the plural keyword to be different from the singular keyword now may not do so in the future, and vice-versa. In any case, you are always better off optimizing your site for both the plural and singular versions of your keywords, assuming that both versions are popular.


QUESTION 2:

Do search engines face any problems when there are graphical links (i.e. links using pictures) in a site instead of text links? Do search engines give a lower ranking to sites which use graphical links?

Terry Lauder

Answer:

Hi Terry,

As far as I know, no search engine has any problems spidering a page which is linked to another page using a graphical rather than a text link. Many sites use such graphical links rather than text links, and if the search engines had stopped spidering pages which were linked graphically, a large percentage of pages would never make it to their databases.

Now, while the search engines will spider pages which are linked graphically, and while they never penalize a site which uses graphical links, you may get slightly better rankings if you use text rather than graphical links. The search engines only *understand* text - they do not understand graphics. When you have used text links in a page, you get the opportunity to include keywords in the text of the links. This can boost your rankings in the search engines. However, if you had used graphical links, you are obviously not in a position to include keywords in the text of the links. Of course, you could always have alt tags and put the keyword in the alt tags. However, generally, keywords present inside the link text are given more weightage than keywords present inside alt tags.

Hence, if you are in a position to use text links rather than graphical links in a page, you should always do so. However, if for any reason, you are constrained to use graphical links, you shouldn't lose sleep over it.


QUESTION 3:

Our home page has some drop-down menus at the top (which we have created using Javascript) which contain links to the internal pages in the site. I have heard that the search engines cannot spider such links. Can you suggest a solution which will help us get these internal pages spidered?

Barry Jackson

Answer:

Hi Barry,

The best way to handle this is to create a Sitemap page which contains links to all of the internal pages in your site. However, some search engines refuse to spider pages which only contain links to other pages. Hence, if the Sitemap page only contains links to these internal pages but contains no other content, the search engines may ignore this page. Thus, what you can do is to add a short description of the content of each internal page after you have added a link to that page in the Sitemap page. This ensures that the search engines will not ignore this page.

Then, you need to link the Sitemap page with the home page. This ensures that when a search engine spider comes to the home page, it can spider the Sitemap page, and after that, can spider the internal pages in your site which are linked from the Sitemap page. If you want, you can add a text link from the home page to the Sitemap page. Or, if you don't want any of your human visitors to be able to visit the Sitemap page, you can link the home page with the Sitemap page using a transparent gif image. You can get a sample transparent gif image at http://www.1stsearchranking.net/smallpic.zip You will need a program like Winzip to extract the gif file. You can download Winzip at http://www.winzip.com
April 19, 2002





Sumantra Roy, president of 1st Search Engine Ranking.net, is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. Sumantra's articles on search engine optimization have been widely published and quoted in different web sites and newsletters on the Internet. His unique formula for establishing the most appropriate keywords for a site has been used by WordTracker, the most popular keyword research tool on the Internet. This formula is also used by many other search engine optimization companies for establishing the most appropriate keywords for their clients' sites.





Search Engine Guide > Sumantra Roy > Plural vs. Singular Keywords, Graphical vs. Text Links, Javascript Menus