EXPERT Q&A: Singular or Plural Domain Name for Directory Site?

Domain Name Expert Answers to Your Domain Name QuestionsThe Q&A series is where we ask domain name experts, influencers and friends of DomainSherpa for their opinions. This week we are looking at whether it is better to develop a singular or plural version of a domain name into a directory of providers.

Domainers understand that, however it may change over time, there will always be a connection between search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword-rich domain names. But the nuances of that connection, which can provide a domainer with an SEO advantage, are less well understood. When we received a reader question about whether to choose a singular or plural domain name for a directory, we went to the expert — the “Wizard of Moz” himself, Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEO Software SEOmoz.org.
Carol in New Jersey asks: “I want to develop one of my domain names into a service provider directory. I can’t decide whether to use the singular or plural for the primary website (I luckily own both). From a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, what is the best choice for the directory domain name? (For example, lawyer.com or lawyers.com, pizzeria.com or pizzerias.com, plumber.com or plumbers.com.)”

Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz.org

Rand Fishkin: Personally, I would opt for something plural like “lawyers.com.” It makes more sense in the plural because a directory or listing site should offer multiple choices and because it’s likely that from a search perspective, users searching for plurals are seeking advice on which to choose.

Exact match domains [website addresses that are identical to keyword searches] are still powerful in all the major search engines, and for a site like this, having an obvious name that indicates precisely what your site offers is a very good thing.

Follow-up: That makes sense. However, according to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, the phrase lawyer is searched almost three times as often per month as lawyers. Given that most people seem to be searching on the singular query, will seattlelawyers.com perform just as well – from a keyword-in-the-domain-name perspective – as seattlelawyer.com?

Rand Fishkin: Search engines see the singular and plural differences, and it matters to some extent, but it won’t be a killer factor either way.

Follow-up: So search engines will see a singular search query (Seattle lawyer) within a plural domain name (seattlelawyers.com) and give some SEO credit to the result? Will the opposite be true? Will search engines see a plural search query (Seattle lawyers) within a singular domain name (seattlelawyer.com) and give some SEO credit to the result?

Rand Fishkin: In both cases, the answer is yes. An exact match is slightly more powerful but only barely. You will get a lot of credit for singular or plural search queries with the plural or singular version of the domain name.

About Rand: Rand Fishkin is the CEO & Co-Founder of the web’s most popular SEO Software provider; SEOmoz. He co-authored the Art of SEO from O’Reilly Media and was named on the 40 Under 40 List and 30 Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30. Rand has been written about in The Seattle Times, Newsweek and PC World among others and keynoted conferences on search around the world. He’s particularly passionate about the SEOmoz blog, read by tens of thousands of search professionals each day. In his miniscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, whose serendipitous travel blog chronicles their journeys.

What directories have you built-out, and did you use a singular or plural domain name? Leave a response.

Liked this Expert Q&A? Thank Rand on Twitter (click here – opens in new window).

[Photo credit: SEOmoz.org]

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18 Responses to “EXPERT Q&A: Singular or Plural Domain Name for Directory Site?”

  1. Duncan says:

    Can anyone please advise me please.

    Is there a difference in SEO using ing in a domain name

    aka were I to have to choose betwen 3 domain names gooddriver.com gooddrivers.com gooddriving.com (these are just examples and i do not own them)

    Would the domain name with the ing search phase (Good Driving) more then likely be searched for by persons seeking information on how to be a good driver, where as the “good driver” be more likely be used by persons actually looking for a good driver.

    Am grateful for reply

    cheers

    Duncan

  2. Domain examples:

    ProfessionalHairService dot com versus ProfessionalHairServices dot com. The singular receives 50 unique per day and the plural receives only 2.

    EmpireStateHotel dot com versus EmpireStateHotels dot com. The singular produces 1600 unique per month as opposed to 200-300 for plural.

    1932Quarter dot com versus 1932Quarters dot com. The singular produces 15K unique per month while the plural only generates 30-60 unique per month.

    I own another 10 singular and plural pairs. I can monitor the stats to demonstrate the reason why the singular is outperforming the plural. Nonetheless, I would rather own the plural in job domains. Most people type in jobs rather than job. I would start a plural directory only on jobs.

  3. Good article. Thanks. I find that my singular service and other singular domains outperform the plural version. I own several pairs of singular and plural domains. In every scenario, the singular produces the best traffic and makes the most revenue; I would build a singular directory site over a plural.

    My singular sites index articles better than the plural. I can write an article now, and it will be indexed within two hours. Then, a person will find the article. Thanks for the great article.

    JAG

  4. Given a choice we have chosen the plural versions. Our Industry though, has no blueprint for success. The hoot is that most of the major sites do not follow this formula. We like short best of class .com Business oriented Addresses.

    The real secret to success is finding and attracting Motivated End Users. We suggest Marketing Strategies that stand out and separate you from the crowd. ” The Future favors The Bold ”

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  5. My thoughts… From an SEO standpoint, I always try and optimize towards a plural as you often get the singular included. However, I recall reading something a few years ago about the psychology of search which made sense to me, so I’ve repeated it though I can’t find the research to link to…

    Plural based searches often indicate comparison, vs singular searches indicate a search for a specific product or service. This means that a person who is further along in their buying cycle is more likely to search the singular phrase, vs a person who is still doing product research and is early in their buying cycle is more likely to search for the plural. Case in point, our work with Villa.com. A person who is searching early in their research would be searching for “Beachfront Villas”, while a person with a more clear definition of their need (later in buying cycle) would search for “Beachfront Villa in Barbados with a Pool”.

    If this is truly the case, then for a directory site, I would qo for the plural as your prospective customers may click around to find what they are looking for. That being said, if you are trying to monetize your traffic via AdSense or an Affiliate program, you may go after the plural as those visitors would be more likely to convert.

    Hope that helps.

    1. I think Rand agrees with you that if he, personally, were to pick the singular or plural, he’d go plural because it indicates a comparison of options.

      However, from a strictly SEO perspective, what I gleaned was that an exact match is SLIGHTLY better and for that you need to check GAKT to see which is more popular — if you care to eek out that extra SEO goodness. :)

    2. To a certain degree, it depends on the name itself.

      It’s the difference between:
      * Shoe.com vs Shoes.com (No girl searches for a shoe, we shop for a pair of shoes)
      * Hair.com vs Hairs.com (Americans get their hair cut, not their hairs)

  6. domain guy says:

    we have analyzed this problem and own both the singular and plural versions of several domains for this reason.

    1.using the google index ,direct navigation, and monthly search statistics determine which domain is more revelant..in harvard they would call this analytics.this will then become your domain and landing page for the primary site.
    2.using the less dominant doman this will then be forwarded into the primary site.
    3. on the anchor text use both the plural and singular version of the keyword,throughout the website use both versions and incorporate both versions in different sections of the website.
    4.with the site up and using google analytics to determine which version is generating more traffic.the traffic should be roughly equal for both the singular and plural version of the keyword.

  7. Jamie S. says:

    Right on the money, again. DomainSherpa rocks.

    Can’t wait for Wednesday’s interview to go live!

  8. Lucas Zindell says:

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  9. A big thank you for your article. Fantastic.

  10. Domainer's Domains says:

    Definitive article. Good read.

  11. BullS says:

    SEOmoz.-Hey Rand, what does the “moz” stand for?

    Please tell me it stands for Search Engine Monetization. That is the new game in town.

    BTW, if you click on my signature “BullS” I have the plurals and it works fine on the domain and she was voted “Best website of the Year” since inception .

  12. DG says:

    Very clear, very useful post.

    What’s Elliot going to do with his dogwalker.com directory now? Just kidding! He nailed it with an exact search according to GAKT that gives him an advantage over the plural domain name.

  13. Tim Borne says:

    Great advice. Thanks, Rand.

    Oftentimes when I’m searching the domain drop lists I wonder if I should buy the singular instead (if the plural is listed) and vice versa. This puts that nagging question to bed for me. Awesome.

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