Co-Occurrence and Co-Citation: How Can They Boost Your SEO?

Mon Mar 25 2019

Co-Occurrence and Co-Citation: How Can They Boost Your SEO?

Co-occurrence is an essential element of SEO. If you already have a kick-butt content marketing strategy, then you likely won't have to change much to align yourself with the recent evolution of Google algorithms. But understanding what co-occurrence and co-citation are, can help boost your SEO. 

Google Frequently Changes Its Methods

It doesn't take long for Google to identify manipulations to how web pages are ranked and to adjust their algorithms.

When people began misusing anchor text as a way to falsely boost their position on a SERP, Google responded by updating the way it ranks and indexes pages.

One of the updates, known as Google Caffeine, altered Google's indexing infrastructure to make it index pages faster so they could provide fresher results. 

In contrast, an update called Hummingbird represented Google's attempt to focus on user intent rather than the keywords alone.

For example, Google tried to determine users' intentions when they typed in specific keywords. Did they want to visit a local business, learn something, or go to a website that allowed doing something specific, like shopping?

User intent and the Google algorithm changes related to it, aim to match the shifting ways that people search for things. Co-occurrence and co-citation are both a part of the ever-changing world of Google rankings.


As the name implies, co-occurrence refers to related (but not identical) keywords or terms based on similar topics that frequently occur together across multiple websites.

It is not entirely reliant on the number of links present on a site, but instead, the number of references to a relevant keyword inside high-quality content.

Search engines are tracking user behavior and making connections between topic relationships, not just identical keywords.

If you have quality content that addresses or answers consumer queries you are likely to rank higher on a SERP and more likely to experience co-citation.

Similar Keywords and How to Find Them

Co-occurrence is especially significant when working with keywords that have multiple meanings.

In the case of Java, is a person talking about coffee or software? Using additional keywords that are similar and related in the content helps the Google algorithm understand the purpose of your site and how to rank it.

If you add words like coffee, mocha or caffeine, it is clear to Google you are referring to java the drink not Oracle's programming language. 

If you're looking for ways to improve your SEO, understanding the keywords Google currently lists as similar to yours is easier than you may think.

Start by typing your primary keyword into Google, then scrolling down to the bottom of the search engine results.

There, you'll see several keywords that people also search for when they want information about your keyword.

Your keyword research should be more in-depth, but that's one example of how it's not necessarily difficult to determine the keywords that could become part of your co-occurrence efforts. 


Co-citation goes hand in hand with co-occurrence. It refers to the number of times a site is referenced or mentioned by multiple sources.

Co-citation is just like link building but without the links. It is an interplay between three websites.

When Site A and Site B discuss similar topics and recognize Site C as a valuable source for information (without linking to Site C) that is co-citation.

Keep in mind that co-citation relies on co-occurrence. If Site C has reliable, high-quality information that mentions the relevant topic, it is much more likely to be cited by other websites.

Co-citation is driven by content, and you can't be cited as an authority if you don't offer any real value to a subject matter.

To experience co-citation, you also need co-occurrence. It is a delicate balance between emphasizing your brand and offering relevant and informative content on a specific topic.

If co-citation works effectively, your site traffic will increase right along with your brand awareness and authority.

Co-occurrence and co-citation are not new concepts, but they are becoming especially necessary, especially as Google prioritizes user intent and goes beyond the mere use of keywords, anchor text and traditional links.

The information here should help you understand why co-occurrence and co-citation are essential and help you develop an SEO strategy to boost your site and your business.

Written by Vazoola

Let’s Get Started...

Tell us more about your marketing goals.