Even though the update by Matt Cutts targeted the use of guest blogging for SEO, the online marketing world is in quandary. Businesses are stumped and afraid to progress any further using guest blogging as a marketing strategy.
Since I deal with guest blogging assignments and lately, spent some time explaining the continuing merits of guest blogging campaigns, I decided to explore further and came across this new term: co-citation.
On the Whiteboard session by Rand Fishkin for Moz, he talks about weakening of the anchor text and the rising of co-citation or co-occurrence.
The first moot point is blogs that co-cite other blogs has the possibility to gain higher visibility and search ranking.
The second moot point is that the co-citation doesn’t have to be a live link.
Let’s delve deeper.
What is Co-Citation?
Its existence is evident since ancient times with philosophers and historians quoting the works of fellow writers within their journals. Even today, academic papers co-cite relevant works to validate the author’s perspective.
Here’s a definition from SourceForge.net:
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.
Co-citation is not a new concept in blogging. Every blogger indulges in it knowingly or unknowingly. For instance, I have linked to the Matt Cutts and Rand Fishkin articles above and that’s co-citation. Moreover, both their articles aren’t interlinked but it’s still a co-citation.
There are no keywords involved, just a phrase that I believe summates the intention of their article and my perspective (focus on ‘bold’, its important).
Google is following the law of association.
Since the search engine game began, Google is focusing on this concept, albeit not too prominently like the other popular search signals: backlinks and keywords.
How does Co-Citation Work?
Let’s understand with the help of these images.
Here, the sites A and B link to C and D but A and B don’t link to each other.
In the second instance, a single site (A) links to two sites (B and C) and a co-cited relationship establishes between B and C.
Depending on the citation style, it helps search engine to distinguish and categorize the site.
A Real Example
I will explore a search term used as an example in Moz and see if it applies to another site.
Google ‘cell phone ratings’ and you’ll see a result from PC World.
I clicked on the page and searched for the same term. It isn’t there.
However, if you see the meta description closely, the terms ‘cell phones’ appear in the URL and ‘rated’ (not linked) as stars on the page. So Google draws an association here – ‘cell phones’, ‘rated’ and ‘PC World’, drawing the connection that PC World is related to the search terms and thus, a relevant search result.
Now, mind you, co-citation is just a singular aspect of ranking. Page authority, domain authority, backlinks are some other factors while Google is tight-lipped about the rest. I am trying to show how co-citation works.
Will Co-Citation be the Next Anchor Text?
I am not positively sure if co-citation will be the next anchor text but don’t ignore it either. With all the frequent Google updates, one can never predict the next game changer.
Personally, I feel co-citation will add immense brand value.
I searched the co-citation presence of some known blogs and came across interesting results. Google:
Note the search results. They don’t go to any particular article. The results show the homepage. It is quite possible the blogs visible in results had co-cited the searched blog (with or without live link/s) in the past; Google drew the association and classified it as you are seeing now.
In co-citation, Google looks at the whole text and identifies important terms to draw a relationship. It determines the context of the published page. It searches whether the page refers to any other page / brand or not, leading to the conclusion that a certain bunch of important terms goes together with another certain bunch of terms (referred page) and so they are inter-linked and shown in search results depending on the searched item. Phew!
Erik Deckers at Pro Blog Service writes a lot on Ernest Hemingway and blogging. Google “Ernest Hemingway blogging” and you can actually see the tag page showing up on the top 20 results.
Read Erik’s detailed analysis of result here.
This is amazing!
Will Co-Citation Replace Guest Blogging?
As Matt Cutts said, if you’re guest blogging for SEO, you better stop right now because content created for this purpose is generally of low quality and the sole intention is one or two do-follow backlinks.
Compare the two, co-citation is harder to manipulate. Why? It’s simply because you cannot force anyone to co-cite.
I think that co-citation won’t replace guest blogging but it is important to incorporate it in your guest blogging campaigns.
Tips for Guest Blogging Providers
I understand that your guest blogging efforts will largely depend on how much you’re paid for services but don’t forget, guest blogging helps to expand your writing portfolio. Hence, keep in mind the following:
- don’t go mad after author bio links and anchor texts
- co-cite niche blog posts within the article
- practice semantic SEO using synonymous keywords
- create content that deserves to be cited by readers; it won’t only help you but your client as well.
Tips for Guest Blogging Seekers
Your business is in grave danger if you’re seeking the typical 2 do-follow author bio links and not allowing the guest blog writer to explore further.
- chuck out the ‘author bio’ mentality
- have a product/service worth guest blogging; the writer can partake only half the blame for failure
- understand the meaning of true content creation; guest blog writing is not about stringing few words together and getting backlinks from blogs
- you should engage with the content; promote the heck out of it
- don’t force the guest writer to blog anonymously; it hurts YOUR brand only, not the writer.
- be a part of the business community to gain good value
- even if the link is no-follow, you should take it.
This should serve as a wakeup call.