SEO

SEO Cocitation Considerations and What It Means to Your Small Business

Google’s number one priority is being able to differentiate between natural sites and spam- centered sites. It’s a fine line to walk, but in order to offer the highest quality information for users; search engines need clues. As many Webmasters know, linking is the number one clue and always found at the center of this dilemma for Google and other search engines.

Where and how a website links, whether it be linking on its own website or linking back on another website, is a great way to discover whether or not a site is really natural and valuable. One of the latest tricks is cocitation, and of course with cocitation comes SEO cocitation.

Different Aspects of SEO Cocitation

Although the concept of SEO cocitation has been around for a little while, it’s just now starting to gain some publicity as more and more websites search for unique and creative ways to improve linking. In short, cocitation deals with what is happening around all of your links (external, internal, and backlinks). There are essentially two ways to look at cocitation:

  • Transitive Property. The transitive property works with three or more websites. The idea here is that one website could help another website even if they have never been in contact. As long as the two websites have another website in common through linking, the link juice can be passed backwards and forwards. This can work either positively for a site or negatively. It seems confusing, but consider the following equation:

Website A links to Website C. Website A also links to Website B. The authority connected with Website C is also going to affect Website B.

  • Semantic Similarity. This is the aspect of cocitation that really has people in the industry talking. It refers to the words around the links within a piece of content. Sites are now ranking for keywords that are not used as anchor text for links, but rather just around the text. Consider the following example I created in one of my past blog posts:

Let’s say I was going to link to HigherVisibility.com.
wouldn’t do this:
For information on SEO services
, go to Higher Visibility’s website.
Here’s how it would look in real life, meaning how it would look if you were hoping for some cocitation credit:
For more information on SEO services, head over to HigherVisibility.com
.

Because the words “SEO services” appears next to the link, it shows Google that the link must be related to SEO services, yet it still looks natural.

It’s also worth noting that linking to authoritative websites is a great way to give a little and receive a little link juice and popularity. You may not want to link back to your direct competition (try for more complimentary companies), but this will look good in the eyes of Google. If you’re referencing something authoritative around your links, you’re giving yourself more credibility in the eyes of Google as well as your readers.

What SEO Cocitation Means to You

SEO is constantly changing, so it’s important that your website can change its strategies to adapt and remain successful. In the past Google wanted to see keyword rich anchor text as a sort of relevancy-marker, but this was too easy for spammers. Now, this is the exact opposite of what Google wants to see. It should change the way you think about linking.

Google is trying to move toward a search engine where everything matters (not just links), so by putting value on words and links around your anchor text it’s clear this idea is probably here to stay. SEO cocitation is a step in this direction, so businesses need to make a few changes to their future content strategy (and even past content if possible):

  • Link generously to other authoritative websites.
  • Stay away from poor websites completely.
  • When linking to another site, be aware of where they are linking because you may be associated to those links at some point.
  • Focus on the words around your links and make sure they are related.
  • Don’t always use a keyword as your anchor text.

Are you familiar with SEO cocitation? If yes, have you seen this strategy work for you? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: mattersolutions.com.au

 SEO Cocitation Considerations and What It Means to Your Small Business

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country. Connect with Higher Visibility on Google+and Twitter to learn more!
 SEO Cocitation Considerations and What It Means to Your Small Business

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14 thoughts on “SEO Cocitation Considerations and What It Means to Your Small Business

  1. Nice article Amanda. Cocitation definitely is an interesting topic. I had heard about Semantic Similarity before but not yet about Transitive Property, which seems an interesting concept.

    Many people doing SEO are afraid of leaking PageRank or helping out the competition when linking out from their own site. Yet, it seems that linking out to authoritative websites is a good way to get some Google love and positive outreach at the same time. I remember an SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday by Cyrus Sheperd who also advocated linking out to authoritative websites and not worry too much about giving away PageRank in the process.

    1. Citations are almost as good as links when some one authoritative (personality) mentions a positive thought about the brand in the form of a tweet, blog mention it really should be given value, it can never be manipulated. Google is in pursuit of finding more and more ranking signals such as this to make the search results more relevant and engaging for the users.

  2. Hi Amanda, interesting stuff. Cocitation is something new to me but it makes good sense, Google is looking for intent and relevance and this seems to be a good way to go about it. Hang out with the good guys and avoid any shady characters :)

    With regards to anchor text, I find a complete reverse interesting as people have heavily targeted keywords in anchor text for years, but what happens now? Are these links devalued or punished somehow? It’s not possible to undo all those built links with anchor rich text so I guess people are stuck with them for good.

  3. Great article Amanda. Personally I think more and more weight will be applied to semantic similarity as Google looks towards social signals more and more. Keywords in shared posts, retweets etc must carry weight – look at URL shortners… No keywords there

  4. Hi Amanda,

    very useful and well presented. Well done . The problem checking the sites we are linking too is easier said than done, Checking their links and see their link profile is of course not difficult and even if it seems OK today it might not be so in the future. That is the risk we all take when getting backlinks from sites or blogs. Of course we can say if a site “lives “in a reputable “neighborhood” the chances that this will continue are great, but again there is no guarantee.

    The other issue I feel makes checking on every site we wish to get a backlink from problematic is the actual time it takes to do so. If you are building links in larger numbers, checking each site becomes difficult even impossible. However I did enjoy your thoughts.

  5. My understanding is that your first example is cocitation (two sites that are cited) but your second is an example of co-occurence (words that occur around anchor text).

    For example, in the WBF video below Rand began by calling it cocitation, but later changed it to co-occurence when someone pointed it out (see URL versus what it’s called now).

    http://moz.com/blog/prediction-anchor-text-is-dying-and-will-be-replaced-by-cocitation-whiteboard-friday

    What do you think and/or how do you reconcile that definition with your own?

  6. How your site is written is every bit as important as what is written. Gone are the days when one could write the same key phrases repeatedly and hope to gain traction with search engines. Google recently updated their algorithms so that pages without rich content got demoted out of the top spots. You should be writing valuable content for your customers and the search engines will take notice.

    Your readers don’t want to read bad key phrase content. Search engines are looking for what your readers are looking for – good meaningful content. If you never thought about SEO, you’re not alone. We write engaging content that works for the search engines and more importantly your customers. We take pages that aren’t positioning where you want and optimize them to gain better rankings and more traffic.

  7. Thank you for reading everyone and for all of your wonderful comments! I was on vacation so forgive me for not being here to respond. I think co-citation is really interesting and definitely a step in the right direction for Google. It will be interesting to see how the idea evolves.

  8. Great article Amanda. I am very interested to see how co-citation is going to play out and more importantly how it will be abused and penalized by Google in the coming years. Once co-citation is no longer a viable option; what will be next?

    Either way, I have setup a test site and the only links I am building are using co-citation, I am interested to see how it will perform.

  9. Great article, i would like to see the test from Frank S. above mentioned, it sounds logic that Google is searching for other ways than anchors as a signal. Rand did a test a year ago, and there was just a little less power for ranking with not exact anchors. We are running a test now too, i will post it, when we have results..

  10. How your site is written is every bit as important as what is written. Gone are the days when one could write the same key phrases repeatedly and hope to gain traction with search engines. Google recently updated their algorithms so that pages without rich content got demoted out of the top spots. You should be writing valuable content for your customers and the search engines will take notice.

    Your readers don’t want to read bad key phrase content. Search engines are looking for what your readers are looking for – good meaningful content. If you never thought about SEO, you’re not alone. We write engaging content that works for the search engines and more importantly your customers. We take pages that aren’t positioning where you want and optimize them to gain better rankings and more traffic.

    See me at: http:www.twitter.com/ACF_Cloud