Co-Citation & Co-Occurrence: How Important Are They for SEO Today?






We tend to have lots of buzzwords in the digital marketing world. The core principle however remains engine optimization. Google is the search engine giants and to improve the user experience it keeps coming up with different strategies. Co-Citation and Co-Occurrence are not new in terms of concepts however their importance in SEO has increased; with Google trying to make its search engine more human language friendly. Gradually focus is not just on keywords, semantics are being used to give users what they want and even more. Search results not only answers the question user type in, but it also gives the contextual meaning and proves related answers and what user might do with the answer they have received. Let’s first understand what Co-Occurrence and Co-Citation mean in digital marketing.



Co-Occurrence: The idea is to base the ranking on semantics. Ranking for contextual search results rather than only keywords. To achieve these Google has a large database of keywords, related phrases, relationships between different keywords. The bots are used to crawl the web content and understand what it is all about. To establish Co-Occurrence the bots, try to look at keywords that are within proximity and available on multiple websites. These keywords may be similar but not the same based on the topic. Please note when we say keywords in the context of Co-Occurrence it doesn’t necessarily mean actual links between websites.



How to incorporate it and improve the SEO?


While creating content includes key phrases and try to link them. It is easy if you understand the concept. While doing the keyword research, don’t just look at the number of times keywords are being searched by users, look how often different key phrases are being used in tandem. To know more, you can contact SEO company.


Let’s take an example:
Someone search “Family Vacations in North America” and then quickly after it looks up “Best group tour options in North America” if this happens on multiple occasion. Search engine like Google will notice and start associating both the phrases and assume that people going people who are searching for family vacations in North America also wants to go for group tours available in the area. When this happens, co-occurrence has taken place. SEO experts and content writers need to make sure to include such key phrases in the content to make it more SEO friendly.


Co-Citation: It is a means with which google looks an article that has multiple links in it and understands the relevance and authorities of the various links on an equal basis. Let’s understand it by an example, Website A and Website B are linked with Website C and D. However, Website A and Website B are not linked with each other, this would mean that they are connected via Co-Citation. It establishes a relationship between a couple of sites even though there are no links between them. It usually does that by contextual keywords and mutual links. Co-Citation is more about utilizing halo authority via a transitive relationship.



It’s a fascinating trend and goes along with SEO best practices. Let’s say there is a website ranking at the top and it's about the best electric shaving kit. However, if you look at the website you notice that it doesn’t have the keyword “best electric shaving kit” in the interesting title tag. Even more interesting you don’t find the keyword in the meta description either. When you see such a case, this is usually because of Co-Citation. Google associates relevant terms with these websites even though the websites are devoid of classic SEO signals. Award higher rankings based on Co-Citations and markers rather than customary SEO features. You will see this in long-tail searches for sites that have higher authority. If the site has high weight links, it might outrank in the SERPs based on its domain authority.
Anchor text is not as important as it was, It is more about solving user intent.
Co-Citation doesn’t mean that link building is not required, it is just changing how it is done.


Things to do as SEO experts:
As an SEO strategist, you need to make sure the content is based on these two concepts and the content team understands why it is important and how it can be managed. Here are a few pointers:
While doing keyword research also try to find the related key phrases or modifiers and include them in the content.
Use of tools available online which helps you explore keywords and plan better. There are various free options available as well as advanced paid versions.
Optimized use of Headers: Focus not just on H1 header, but H2, H3 subheadings too. Incorporate similar words in these sub-headers for better optimization.



With Google’s moving towards more human-like search results with every major update in the last decade be it 2013 “Hummingbird update”, 2015 “RankBrain” (Machine Learning System), and most recent 2019 “BERT” which focuses on the contextual meaning of search queries. Use Co-Occurrence and Co-Citation techniques are valuable for making content SEO friendly.



References –
Google - https://www.blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert/
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RankBrain&
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Hummingbird


















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