What in the World is SEO Co-Citation and Why Should I Care?

Link building used to be less complicated. Your only job was to find websites with a high PageRank, request links with a specific anchor text, and wait for your search engine ranking to improve. Directories, blog comments and social media profiles were 90% of SEO. Even those who were too busy to manually optimize and improve their website’s ranking were able to do it thanks to the thousands of cheap services offered by SEO freelancers.

SEO Co-Citation

Penguin Update Changed Link Building Forever

The Penguin Update caught many bloggers off guard and they had no idea what to do to save their precious ranking

As a Malaysia-based SEO company, CLOUDROCK isn’t as big as the reputable SEO agency called SEOmoz. This is why when Rand Fishkin mentioned that links were losing value in favour of co-citation, our entire agency was all ears. What did Penguin do, and why didn’t we know about it?

The most interesting part of his presentation was the part explaining that he had found several websites that ranked for competitive keywords, but they:

  • Didn’t mention the keyword for which they were ranked
  • Didn’t have any inbound links that used this keyword as anchor text

So how did they manage to rank so well without two of the most important things in SEO? The answer is Co-citation.

Great, So What is this Co-Citation Thing I Have to Learn Now?

Think of co-citations as link building – without the links. Did that help? No? Let me try again…

Let’s say, like CLOUDROCK you’re in the SEO industry in Malaysia and someone is writing an article on how Malaysian companies are engaging in more search engine optimization activities. The article mentions your website or business, but doesn’t link to it.

That’s a co-citation. Google now pays more attention to co-citation and many specialists state that it is as important as backlinks. And to be honest, this isn’t a surprise, because co-citation is much more authoritative and true.

What You Can Do About It Now

  1. Be careful about the words used in close proximity to your links. If they have negative connotations, Google might start associating them with your brand.
  2. Don’t worry as much about linking out. Linking out to high quality sites will increase your association with them, and may help Google show that you are one of the big names.
  3. Check your backlink profile and ensure that your anchor text is diverse. While it’s not directly related to co-citations, it’s something that cannot be over-emphasized now.
  4. Don’t only care about the domain authority and relevance of the website linking to you. You also have to be concerned about the other links features on this website. If a big number of its outbound links lead to low quality and shady websites, then Google won’t think highly of you.
  5. Co-citation emphasizes brand building, which we all know is something Google is big on. You need to establish a strong brand in order for Google to connect the dots. Do a search for your brand name on Google and ensure that you’re ranking on Page 1 Position 1.

How About Backlinks Then?

We’re not saying that backlinks aren’t still important.

They are.

However, Google seems to be moving away from them. We’re just not sure how much less influential backlinks will be right now. Before the next big Penguin update hits (and we’ve been assured that it’ll be a big one), it might be wise to focus on co-citation instead of inbound links.