Choosing which singular and plural keywords for App Search Optimization (ASO) can be tricky. There is conflicting information out there that tells you it is okay to just use singular keywords. Others argue that you need to target plural keywords as well.
This is a crucial issue to consider especially when you consider that the keyword field of the Apple App Store is limited. So, every character you use counts and you don’t want to waste your precious space for keywords that don’t convert.
We want to know, between singular and plural keywords, which one should you target? Is it enough to use only singular keywords or are you missing a lot of ranking opportunities if you ignore plural keywords? Most importantly, which keywords should you use?
Let’s find out.
The recommendation of Apple App Store
When discussing how to optimize your product page, Apple recommended that you should avoid “plurals of words that you’ve already included in singular form.”
Now, that should settle all arguments, right? Apple, itself, said that you should not use plurals of words. We don’t have anything to discuss anymore… or is it?
The problem with the statement of Apple is that it doesn’t tell you the whole picture. Notice, Apple only says that you should not use the plurals of words if you have already included the singular form. What it doesn’t say is whether you should use plural keywords independently or not.
Example of search results for singular and plural keywords
To prove our point that it makes sense to consider plural keywords when doing App Store keyword research, let us give you some examples. A simple live search in the App Store should give you something to consider.
Head to the Apple App Store and use the search functionality with the keyword “garden.” Take note of the result. Use the search again, but this time, use the keyword, “gardens.”
The results look like this:
As you can see, the results greatly vary. For the keyword “garden,” the top three results are Gardenscapes, FarmVille 2, and Terrarium. On the other hand, for the keyword “gardens,” we have My Home, Home Design 3D, and Hay Day.
Just in this example, we can easily say that using the plural form of a keyword makes an impact on search results.
Another example would be the keywords “hotel” and “hotels.” When you use “hotels” in your search, the number one app that shows up would be Hotels.com, whereas, when you use the keyword “hotel,” the top app that appears is Expedia as the AppTweak team mentioned on their blog.
Observe the screenshot below (left side is for “hotels” and right side is for “hotel”):
Here’s a piece of interesting information to take note of:
Hotels.com actually ranks number one for the keyword “hotel” even after it removed the keyword “hotel” from its title. However, this all changed when a new game was published in mid-December that took the number one spot for the keyword “hotel.”
This tells us two things:
- You don’t have to target both the singular and plural versions of your keyword in your app metadata. The reason, as you have seen with our example above, is that Apple would still give you that app keyword rankings as long as you have the singular form.
- You lose your app ranking for plural versions if there are other apps that rank better for those plural versions. As you can see, Hotels Empire is more relevant to the search term “hotels” because its name itself has the keyword “hotels.”
To further make a point, here’s another example. Notice the difference between the search results of “notes” (left side) and “note” (right side).
On this screenshot, we see similarities in the top 3 results, but the difference starts right after that. You will see how n+otes took the number 4 spot for the keyword “notes.” On the other hand, it went down to number 7 for the keyword “note.” There’s no doubt: singular and plural keywords lead to different search results.
More variations of singular and plural keywords
There are some words that change in meaning and intent when it takes a plural form. For example, when you compare the search results for keywords “drink” and drinks,” you would see a huge difference. The reason is that the word “drinks” can either refer to the verb or noun word.
Check out this screenshot that shows the difference in keyword search result:
Now, not all singular words can easily become a plural word by simply adding an “s.” Take the word “tooth” as an example. Its plural word is “teeth.” When you use these keywords, you also get different results.
Localizations of singular and plural keywords
It is understandable that Apple App Store’s algorithm works effectively in English. However, it’s algorithm is not as smart as it should be when indexing singular and plural keywords in foreign languages.
For one, localization of apps does not only mean translating words into local languages. There are some expressions that need to be translated not word for word but thought for thought.
So, when it comes to localizing an app, singular and plural forms of words don’t just involve adding one letter. Sometimes, to transform a singular word to a plural word, you need to change or add a few letters.
Let me give you an example. In French, the singular word for “animal” is “animal” but if you turn it into the plural form, it becomes “animaux.”
As you can see, when you try to check the ranking of “Doghotel” in French domain, you will see it is “unranked” for the keyword “Animaux” but it is rank no. 6 for the keyword “animal.”
Another example is the Portuguese words “musica” and “musicas.” Musica can refer to both song and music, but musicas can only refer to songs. So, you’ll get different results for these ASO keywords as shown below:
As you can see, choosing singular forms of your keyword over the plurals isn’t as straightforward as it may seem to be. There are various factors you need to consider whether you have to ignore plurals entirely or not.
Should You Target Singular or Plural Keywords for ASO?
You may now be wondering whether you should target both singular and plural keywords or just one of them. To answer this question, you need to take into consideration all the examples mentioned above.
One thing is clear: singular and plural keywords can influence app ranking.
Yes, Apple said that you don’t need to include the plural form of your keywords IF you have already included the singular form. The likely reason is that Apple’s algorithm is wise enough to understand the intent of your keyword choice. It also understands which audience you’re trying to target simply by considering your singular form keywords.
Now, remember that Apple is saying this not entirely to help you rank higher, but to help you save space in your keyword field.
So, should you target singular or plural keywords for ASO? The answer is it depends on your short-term and long-term goals. The decision would depend on what you want to accomplish and which keywords you want to target. If it involves targeting specific keywords, then you definitely need to use plural keywords and not just singular words.
How should you decide to use singular or plural versions?
Now that you know you can use singular and plural forms of your keywords, how should you know which one to choose?
The key here is to have the right data by using the right ASO tools. Wherever your data is leading you, then you can be more confident whether you use singular and plural keywords or both of them.
Don’t simply limit yourself to singular keywords. Use plural keywords as well. Once you have gathered more data, you’ll have a better idea of which keywords to use, regardless they are in singular or plural form.
This may run contrary to what Apple is telling you, but based on our research and the findings ASO experts gathered, it is best to treat singular and plural keywords as distinct, different keywords.
Prioritizing not just the right, but the best keywords
If faced to choose between the singular and plural keyword, you need to prioritize the specific keywords you want to rank higher for.
Remember, while you may want to target both the singular and plural form of a keyword, this is not always doable because of the limited space keyword field offers. Thus, it is best to choose the keywords most relevant to your ASO effort.
As what Apple mentioned in their “Optimizing for App Store Search” guide, “Choose keywords based on words you think your audience will use to find an app like yours. Be specific when describing your app’s features and functionality to help the search algorithm surface your app in relevant searches.”
Here are three quick tips on how you can prioritize the right keywords:
- Choose the popular keyword with the lower competition.
- Choose the keyword with the higher search scores. You can normally calculate this by using ASO tools.
- Periodically evaluate your aso keyword optimization performance. Edit, change, and update your keywords as necessary.
ASO can be a trial-and-error process. So, don’t lose heart if you don’t immediately get your desired results. With consistency and right data, you should eventually find the right keywords, whether they are in singular or plural form.
Use the right ASO tools
It is quite challenging to determine which keywords you should use and evaluate whether your chosen keywords are performing well. That’s where ASO tools should come in.
Thankfully, you don’t need to look far and wide for the right ASO tools. You should only give Metrikal a try. It is among the best ASO tools that will help you improve your app ranking.
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