Dump The Anchor Text & Start Focusing On Co-Citations

The Google Penguin update has forever changed the way that SEOs acquire links for their own web properties as well as their clients web properties. On that fateful day in April of 2012, Google made it far more difficult for low quality websites to achieve top search engine rankings by building tons of links using exact and partial match anchor text. This turned the SEO world upside down and has caused many to evolve and change the way they approach search engine optimization forever.

I’ve seen three major shifts over the last year, one of which I’m going to address in this post (co-citations), one of which I’m going to address in my next post (page vs whole site SEO), and the last being a shift in brute force link building to a natural link attraction play via content marketing (we’ve covered this a lot on our blog and will continue to cover it in depth in other posts).

In today’s post, I’d like to cover co-citations, what they are, and how to leverage this strategy to associate keyword themes with your web page content. To start out, let’s talk about what co-citations are.

What Are Co-Citations?

According to a definition that I found on SourceForge.net, co-citations are:

Bibliographic Co-Citation is a popular similarity measure used to establish a subject similarity between two items. If A and B are both cited by C, they may be said to be related to one another, even though they don’t directly reference each other. If A and B are both cited by many other items, they have a stronger relationship. The more items they are cited by, the stronger their relationship is.

My interpretation of the definition, in terms of how this affects SEO, is this: If you have a piece of killer content about wedding rings (A), and a link that says “click here” to a website that sells wedding rings (B), then the website that it is linking to must be about wedding rings (C).

It’s pretty straightforward and we are seeing a lot of evidence that Google starting to shift their ranking signals away from anchor text (it’s not dead yet) and more toward the idea of co-citation.

Where To Start With Co-Citations?

First of all, a lot of co-citations are earned by producing amazing content that people like to link to. These can be blog posts, they can be how-to guides, they can be tools, or any other linkable asset. Here’s an example from our very own blog:

co-citation

Trackur has an amazing brand monitoring tool and I naturally included it in a section of content that was about brand monitoring. This is co-citation at its best!

Outside of earning links and citations naturally, you need to start building this into your strategy and processes. Any time you are producing and publishing content online, that content should be focused around a very specific theme and include non-keyword related anchor text links near the keywords you are targeting. Here’s an example of a guest post author bio we put together recently:

co-citation-example

Again, the whole point of co-citation is to associate words or themes with internal or external links on a page.

As with all off page SEO strategy, you are aiming to not only look natural, but be natural. If every single co-citation has your target keyword right in front of a “click here” link, Google and the other engines will be able to sniff you out, so vary things up and BE natural!

So what are your thoughts about co-citation? Please share in the comments section below.

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