What Is a Co-Citation and How Can it Improve Your Rankings?

Thu Jan 10 2019

What Is a Co-Citation and How Can it Improve Your Rankings?

Traditional link building practices are no longer sufficient for helping sites rank well. So, search engine optimization (SEO) requires something called co-citation.

A co-citation occurs when a website gets mentioned by two different sites that don't necessarily contain linked text along with the citation.

Think about how academic researchers often cite other papers as they write their own. Doing that conveys authority in a couple of ways.

First, it shows that the current author of the research paper has taken the time required to find high-quality, relevant content that supports their research.

Also, the content that the person cites benefits because it gets viewed by Google as content that has value.

You can think of the concept of co-citation in another way concerning how celebrities often name drop other stars in their social media feeds.

That's an effort to build credibility, and it can increase the size of both celebrities' fanbases. For example, if Beyonce mentions an emerging musician on her Twitter feed, then people think that the new musician is someone worth knowing since Beyonce cares about that person. 

But, Beyonce's following could grow too as people who enjoy that new musician decide to learn more about Beyonce's work as a show of gratitude and support.

As the artists mention each other, a resultant buzz builds throughout society, or at least in the population segment that follows one or both of those musicians.

How Does Co-Citation Affect SEO?

When sites get mentioned but not linked to in content, the increased mentions cause the perception of higher authority.

Keeping your site ranking well throughout Google's algorithm changes means following some best practices in your SEO strategy.

For example, it's no longer enough only to have the presence of links in your content. Some of those links may come from non-authoritative sources. 

But, if a credible source mentions your site through co-citation, that seemingly small thing could have positive effects on SEO.

Similarly, relevance is something you should always think about regarding links to your website. Google prizes high-quality content, and you won't get the results you want by either including an irrelevant but authoritative co-citation or link.

Ways to Find Co-Citation Success

If you want to harness the potential of better-ranking content, one broad goal you can have is to build your website's brand.

Think back to the Beyonce example mentioned earlier. The impression people get is that the music superstar mentioned the newer musician because she thought the person offered something unique that other people would enjoy.

If people also think your website is a high-quality destination, they'll want to mention it. 

It's also smart to determine the similar keywords that people search for when they come across content containing your primary keyword.

When similar keywords get mentioned across multiple websites, it results in something called co-occurrence.

Co-occurrence is not the same as co-citation, but it's something you should be aware of while choosing keywords for your content. 

Understanding the similar terms that people search for when learning about things related to your content could help you tweak the material on your webpage so that it more frequently appears on a search engine results page (SERP).

That's because Google no longer only looks for exact-match keywords in content, but keywords that relate to user intent. 

If you can make your site easier to find by the people who may be most interested in it, the likelihood goes up that you'll broaden your audience with more people who might mention your site later.

Make co-citations a part of your link-building strategies, too. Remember, if a third site mentions two sites as being related to each other, Google will probably see a link between all three. 

In short, realize that SEO experts have moved beyond traditional link building and now look for ways to get their sites mentioned in addition to actual links people can click on in the content.

You may need to redefine your idea of link building and realize that it's mainly about creating relationships with people in authority and populating your site with high-quality content that they view as worthwhile. 

Content marketing is now significantly different than it was not long ago. Besides following the suggestions outlined here, you should always work hard to stay abreast of SEO updates and don't assume your previous techniques will consistently get the same results. 

Learn more about co-citation and co-occurence in our FREE Link Building Guide. Download your copy today!

Cutting edge strategies for link building

Written by Vazoola

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