Search engine optimisation (SEO) may seem a bit of a dark art but, in simple terms, it's really no more than increasing your visibility online – but anyone serious about promoting their website still ought to be asking themselves what it takes to increase it.
For the serious web marketer, SEO can seem to be fraught with new challenges almost on a daily basis. For example, Google's Penguin and Pandas may have sounded cute to the initiated but, in reality, they're pretty aggressive updates let loose to seek and destroy rankings for websites deemed to be exploiting keywords at the expense of "user experience".
Of course, link-building has always been an integral part of effective and credible SEO but the Penguin updates introduced on Google just over a year ago have still changed the mindset among specialists who are now witnessing a new phenomenon: co-citation and co-occurrence.
What is co-citation and co-occurrence?
To quote Search Engine Journal: "As these terms are not officially confirmed yet, there is a significant amount of doubt about the proper definition. Some SEO professionals have suggested co-citation and co-occurrence basically refer to the same concept. On the other hand, however, other SEO analysts and professionals who have a keen eye on every modern SEO development claim that co-occurrence is a bit different than co-citation."
Rash Fishkin in his White Board Friday at SEO Moz has predicted less emphasis on anchor text and the growing importance of context and not mere content and links.
"..The process of co-citation refers to the similarities found between two web pages, based on a third-party webpage that successfully mentions the first two webpages in a correlation with each other," says Search Engine Journal
Bibliographic co-citation is a popular "similarity measure" used to establish a link 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: Know more
In other words – at least from an SEO perspective - keywords mentioned in similar contexts with certain affiliations end up getting ranked for the terms for which they have been co-cited with. The example cited by SEO Moz below gives a good perspective:
"For the query "cell phone ratings", coming in at number four is a web page on ConsumerReports.com without the words "cell phone" or the word "ratings". Actually, I do think they have the word "rating," and they might have the word "phone." But it's in the text. It's not even in the title. Really remarkable that they're ranking so well for such a competitive query."
It's still worth debating whether or not co-citation and co-occurrence are two sides of the same coin.
Having gone through numerous articles around the topic of co-occurrence and co-citation one thing which appears certain is that the context of the content needs to be of such a quality that it is relevant to people who are reading, relevant to the publishers who will engage with the audience who, in turn, interact with the content.
This, in turn, leads to social signals that relate to the website and its content which, in turn, lend it authority over the millions of other pages of information or content clamouring to be accessible to people searching for a product or service.
In other words, it seems using "spammy" techniques or using anchor texts out of context could become a thing of the past.