Linking for Search Engine Positioning
Even people new to content marketing and SEO realized that content is king. They also know that links are vital for good search position of their valuable content. If you don’t have links then you content may not get much exposure and exposure of your delightful content generates business.
SEO experts have rightly focused on making connections with other content creators, who are relevant to their business and content but not a direct competitor. These aligned content creators offer valuable, relevant and high-quality content. Content worth linking to as it adds value to their content. This all makes sense.
On the other hand, some content marketers make the mistake that the only thing they need to do is to get as many links as they can. They assume that links are links, and the more the merrier.
Not all links are created equal!
As Google algorithms have become even more sophisticated, it is now obvious that all links are not created equal.
Content marketers must now think carefully about who they link to, who in turn links back to them. However, they now must also take into consideration a new factor. This factor is who is linking to their link partner. Most of the content marketing experts that I know do not consider this increasingly important factor. Every link that points to their linking partners has some impact on the links that they receive from that partner. This concept is currently referred to as co-citation (or co-occurrence in some SEO circles).
Simply put, co-citation in SEO is about the two degrees of separation rule – who you know, and who they know as well. It’s not enough to have many link partners – quality of linking partners once again trumps quantity.
For more understanding of co-citation, let us look to the world of academia. Let’s say that Mr. Professor writes an article about marketing theory. However, his article never receives mention from other business or marketing journals. Furthermore, his article is infrequently referenced even by small or little-known institutions with little to no academic influence. The poor Mr. Professor is not going to get much public recognition. What Mr. Professor really wants and needs is for the Harvard Business School, Tuck at Dartmouth and Yale School of Management to proclaim his article as a marketing game changer.
This is the academic holy grail of co-citations.
In the world of SEO, things work remarkably similar.
In the old cowboy days of SEO (going back over a decade), links reigned supreme. If your content had a large number of incoming links, your search engine position increased. However, as reciprocal linking went wild and blog-post and forum post linking became a profession the search engines caught on and improved their algorithms. The way to gain the type of in-coming links that really made an impact became harder.
- Link farms are out
- Forum posting links are not as valuable
- Links from blogs have less impact
- Reciprocal links do not count as much
Authority counts with your content. You need authoritative content. Now you need authoritative linking partners. The newest link quality factor these days is co-citation, which involves link partner association. It’s no longer enough for you to ensure your links are current, relative and authoritative. There is another factor which is related to who is linking to your link partner and who they link to. If you gain a link from a site that links to bad sites (via a linking scheme for example) or has many links from bad sites or from so-called bad neighborhoods you may damage your own search engine position. Who you associated with on the web matters – just like in life.
What Makes Bad Neighborhoods so Bad?
Even if you never link to a low-quality blog network, you must take note if one of your content partners does. Search algorithms employ the old adage of “guilty by association.” So think twice when seeking out external links – make sure any linking domain employs the same high-value tactics that you do, or your search engine position may be impacted negatively.
Newest Trend in SEO – Semantics – The Study of Language and the Association of Words
The search engines are working hard to improve to understand semantic similarity. This relates to citation on other sites and may (or may not) include a direct link. It is complicated and we need to watch this space.
If a site references your content and in the process references your brand then Google may not care that the link is not present – what they are working hard to implement is the ability to put two and two together.
How does this affect your business? It makes keywords related to your brand that much more critical. If a high-authority site makes a reference to keywords which are also closely associated with your brand, your ranking can increase. If this is fully realized then you may not need link partners to link to you. You will need them to cite your content in their content marketing materials. This is a huge, fascinating, and uncharted new SEO trend.
This is perhaps the most innovative and exciting new SEO trend in years.
SEO and Linking Moving Forward in 2013
Co-citation is a complex concept. The search algorithm must be very complicated. None-the-less we need to continue to add to our SEO expertise to be successful.
- Get Links from Good Sites. Stay away from the spam sites and networks.
- Do not join a link network where you have to give a link to get a link. You have lost control of your linking partnerships if you do this. Inquire and ask your linking partners to also be careful with the links they acquire.
- Create a link-building quality standard. Set the criteria and maintain a high standard.
- Authority rules – link to and from reputable sites that are relevant to your content and business.
- Quality over quantity is still a better formula. You want links, but many bad links do far more damage than a few targeted links.
- Study keyword trends and tactics carefully as you choose your own brand’s top semantic associations. If partners won’t link to you outright, get them to talk about you with selected keywords – this factor can also increase your ranking.
Since content is King and the best way to get links to citations is to create high-quality content based on well done keyword research I encourage you to take our tutorial series on Content Marketing. Here is a link to the Introductory Tutorial on Content Marketing.