Co-Citation, the new Anchor Text?

Being relatively new to SEO, I have been sifting through numerous blogs every morning to not only learn about the key essentials of SEO, but to also find new tactics about the way we do things. I came across something interesting this morning from the SEO Moz team which was about the idea that the strength of anchor text, in terms of ranking, is weakening and could possibly be replaced by co-citation.

In simple terms, co-citation is when pages are linked to competing sites for the purpose of allowing search engines to deliberate and distinguish what community your website belongs too. Now, what makes this different to anchor text is that they may not be directly linked and that these ‘links’ may not necessarily be live links, but just references in content of other sites.

Co-Citation Diagram

The image above demonstrates that 1,2,3 and 4 are all related via co-citation through A,B and C, but aren’t actually linked together.

An example that I had read about this morning was the search term, ‘cell phone ratings’. The site ‘ConsumerReports.com’ appeared in the top 5 results but contained none of the searched terms in the title tag or the meta description. The reason for why it was ranked so high was that Google has collected information from other sites, one in particular that had ‘Cell phones as rated by Consumer Reports’ which wasn’t a link, but just part of the content. Google recognises the association of ‘cell phone’, ‘rated’ and ‘ConsumerReports.com’ and considers ConsumerReports.com to be relevant to the search term.

The key to co-citation is to make it easy for Google and other search engines to recognise what your site is associated with and in turn, what you are about. Here at Matter Solutions, we will be conducting an experiment to test the strength of this tactic. We chose a search term that would have very few search results. In the end, we chose ‘marlin fishing Alice Springs’, and for those who do not know, is impossible as they have no access to the ocean. We then selected the website ‘fishingeastcoast.com.au’ to be the site that will be ranked. In the next few days, we will be sending out guest blogs with the keywords and the url in the content, but not as live links, and hopefully we will see fishingeastcoast.com.au climb in rank. Stay tuned for the results in the coming weeks.

Anchor Text still has merit in the current online environment but Google updates will further affect the strength of these back links.  Whether Co-citation will completely replace Anchor Text, I’m not sure, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on. The idea is to always be aware of your ‘online neighbourhood’ and remember the importance of brand association.

24 Hour Experiment Update

The goal of the experiment is to see whether co- citation works and how strong these ‘links’ are. After 24 hours, without sending out any guest blogs, but purely from this blog alone, fishingeastcoast.com.au has gone from not being ranked at all for ‘marlin fishing Alice Springs’ to being ranked number 5. I will be continuing this experiment to see how high we can get fishingeastcoast.com.au ranked. Stay tuned for further updates.

  Page Rank for experiment