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.
I 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