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

Welcome, SEO enthusiasts!

In this quick and evolving SEO realm, keeping up with the frequent changes is challenging. But if you don’t, you and your website will lose the race, both on Google and in reality. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to be quick at adapting different SEO tactics to keep fortifying your SEO fort.

Today, you’ll learn about two different tactics to improve your SEO and rank better on Google. These tactics are called Co-citation and co-occurrence. You’ll also see what they are, why they make sense, and how to use them.

Let’s cut to the chase.

What Is Co-Citation?

Let’s start by demystifying co-citation. Co-citation is just like someone recommending your name as a subject matter expert. But the only twist here is that co-citation occurs when two sites are mentioned or cited together on one website.

This association implies a relationship between the two pages, potentially boosting their authority on a particular subject. Google notices this and may rank these relevant content pages higher.

What Is Co-Occurrence?

Co-occurrence is when there are two similar keywords present together on different websites frequently. For example, “rain” and “umbrella.” Whenever there’s rain, people take out their umbrellas. So, in most cases, these terms will appear together.

And when this happens, just like humans, Google considers these terms related. This relationship can improve a web page’s ranking for searches related to rain and umbrellas. Furthermore, it refines the search engine results and shows more appropriate results that satisfy the intent.

How Are Co-Citation And Co-Occurrence Connected?

Co-citation and co-occurrence share a common thread – they both rely on context and relevance. While co-citation is more about the association of the entire web page, co-occurrence focuses on the natural occurrence of words and phrases in close proximity.

Here’s the connection: when two web pages are co-cited on the same site, they’re likely to co-occur with relevant keywords. This dual reinforcement strengthens the topic association in the eyes of search engines, potentially boosting the rankings of both pages.

How To Implement Co-citation And Co-Occurrence?

Now that you know about co-citation & co-occurrence, let’s discuss how to put them into action.

Don’t Focus On Anchor Text

When it comes to co-citation and co-occurrence in SEO, it’s essential to focus on something other than anchor text. Unlike conventional link building, where specific anchor text is crucial, co-citation and co-occurrence allow for a more natural and diverse approach.

Instead of repeatedly using the same anchor text to link to your content, these techniques rely on the context in which your website or content is mentioned alongside related topics or keywords. Search engines are becoming smarter at understanding context, so when your website is co-cited or co-occurs with relevant terms naturally in content across the web, it signals authority and relevance.

This diverse approach saves your site from over-optimization, sometimes leading to penalties. Moreover, since this is a natural approach, it makes your site appear more organically on other domains, presenting you as a genuine subject matter expert.

De-emphasize Keywords

While keywords are important, don’t force them on every nook and cranny of your content. Let keywords naturally co-occur with related terms to create a holistic context. Always remember, Google is smarter than you think.

It identifies the keywords that appear together with two relevant keyphrases through co-occurrence. So, even if you search for something using some key phrases, the results may not contain the exact match of your words (in some cases, there won’t be any keyword you searched for), but they’ll still top the chart because they had some related terms in it.

For example, if you search “best dish cleaners,” you’ll see results that do not contain similar keywords like “best dish cleaners.” Instead, you’ll probably see “best dish soaps.” But both terms are related and often occur together; Google puts them on top.

Build Your Brand Presence

The SEO world runs on the give-and-take formula. The more you give to others, the more you receive. Similar rules apply here as well.

In SEO, linking to other websites means passing your web page authority to the other page. Simply put, your page (or website) authority can help other pages improve rankings when you link to them.

But not just passing the authority; when you link to other brands, you also receive some of their link juice or authority. This does not skyrocket your rankings but still leaves a tiny effect on your web page rankings. So, co-citation can help you get in the good books of Google and improve your SEO because co-citations help you build a strong brand presence.

When you cite experts on your content, you are a genuine point of information that doesn’t just claim anything out of thin air but talks with data. This establishes you as an authoritative site and engages your audience with your content.

As a result, co-citation will help you climb high on competitive and converting keywords. Moreover, it will drive more organic traffic towards your website.

Use Content Marketing For Legitimate, High-quality Links

Content marketing can naturally lead to co-citation and co-occurrence. When you create quality content, it naturally involves co-citation and co-occurrence. Hence, it is the best way to improve your SEO score. But there’s more to it.

Google says that backlinks are a critical ranking factor. But they also state that links lose their effectiveness with time. This means even if you earn tons of quality links, they won’t be enough for the future. Hence, you need to attain credibility where co-citation helps you pretty well.

So, you need to design a perfect content strategy to create informative, shareable content that others in your industry want to reference. This will not just keep you up on rankings at the current time but also secure your top position on search results in the future.

Why Co-Occurrence & Co-Citation Make Sense?

To understand why co-citation and co-occurrence are relevant for modern SEO, you need to learn how Google evolved with time and algorithms. Let’s look at a few major Google algorithms for this.


Released in 2013, the Hummingbird update emphasized the importance of context and semantic search. Since co-occurrence heavily relies on natural language patterns, it perfectly fits into the Hummingbird algorithm’s goals.


RankBrain was more into understanding the users’ search queries through machine learning. Since co-citation involves linking to content, it makes it easy for algorithms like RankBrain to interpret the intent better and offer accurate results.


Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT were created to understand the context of words used in the sentences. And you know, co-occurrence is all about the context of words used between related keywords; it trains BERT to catch the nuances of human language and search patterns.

Why Link Building Still Makes More Sense?

While co-citation and co-occurrence are valuable components of a well-rounded SEO strategy, conventional link-building remains essential. Here’s why:

  • Diverse Traffic Sources

Traditional link building from relevant websites improves your search engine rankings and drives direct traffic from those sources. This diversity is crucial for a healthy online presence.

  • Established Authority

Quality backlinks from high-authority domains improve your website’s credibility and make you an authoritative figure in your niche. Since credible backlinks are an important ranking factor, garnering the right links from authoritative sites can improve your SEO.

  • Direct Ranking Impact

Unlike co-citation and co-occurrence, which indirectly affect ranking through context, conventional link building has a more direct impact on search engine rankings. Simply put, high-quality backlinks can boost your site’s visibility.

  • Consistency And Predictability

Traditional link building allows for a more structured approach to SEO. It’s easier to measure and predict the impact of building a certain number of quality links over time.

Wrapping Things Up

In the realm of SEO, co-citation & co-occurrence are the weapons to make your website more relevant to Google. Though they play nicely with the ever-changing rules of Google algorithm, you must not forget about the old-school link-building practices.

Be it conventional link building or co-citation and co-occurrence, the point here is you need to use a blend of all these tactics. When you do this, you create an SEO-friendly website that ranks on the SERPs, enhances your audience’s experience, and establishes you as an authority in your niche.

So, the conclusion is you need to play adaptively with your SEO strategy and give your readers what they want. Do not push your keywords on them. Incorporate them naturally while keeping the context in check. This is all to help you rock the SEO community.