Co-Citation Analysis – what is it?
Co-Citation is where one or more websites are cited by a single website or web page. The SEO theory goes according to Jon Kleinberg’s paper on “authoritative sources in a hyperlinked environment” that authoritative websites known as “hubs” will link to documents of relevance and thus was born the basis for the Teoma search algorithm which powered Ask Jeeves.
Thus, using this theory SEOs assume Google works the same way and will analyse the backlink profiles of the top 10 or 20 ranking sites to source authoritative hub sites known as “common links” i.e. co-citations.
They do this believing that Co-Citation Analysis will help them find the authoritative hubs to obtain links from in the hope of achieving better rankings.
To a point…
Your rankings will improve if you get a link from:
- Website analysis tool sites such as WooRank (they did it without asking you),
- General or niche directories such as Yahoo! directory
- Niche sites in the same industry or topic space say a niche publication
- General social media sites like Pinterest, Visual.ly
Then what? If you can find these, so can the rest of your competitors. As long as you’re chasing your competitors links, you’re on the back foot whilst the top ranking sites are proactively earning links either via PR or more clever SEO methods i.e. using resources that simply are not publicly available.
Not only are you on the backfoot, you’re only diluting the value of the links for your competitors and your clients. On a more technical level the timestamp of your link is much younger compared to the established top ranking competitors. Rankings are fluctuating all the time which is a demonstration that the Top 10 is not always what you or your rank checking tools may think it is. Thus a much more dynamic approach is needed, enter
Being a highly dynamic environment, you be far better off gathering the entire top 100 hostnames for each of your targeted search phrases you want to rank for. From that list, you would identify:
- The Winners – those that average in the top 3
- The Nearlies – those in the top 10 on average
- The Wannabes – those in the top 20 on average
Doing this over time helps you identify who’s gaining ground or increasing SEO share of voice i.e. who’s rankings are increasing on average. The chances are they are doing something right and that analysing the types of links they’re obtaining are worth chasing. However, that’s all too reactive for my liking – the chances are if they really are smart they will be doing everything to hide their links from SEO link intelligence tools.
Asking people for links is rubbish and it’s spam – don’t do it. Don’t convince yourself that this ethical. Bothering people you don’t know from a bar of soap is not ethical SEO – it’s spam. It’s no good for the SEO community and industry to convince themselves and peers that they are doing exactly what PR specialists do (media outreach). PR people talk to media specialists.
Any contact with bloggers usually happens because they offer something of real tangible value. They don’t bother people with silly content that has no regard for the audience for the sites they’re reaching out to.
Why? Because it’s better to.
Be chased not the hunter
I see no real value being provided by SEO consultants or agencies reselling what can easily be provided or self serviced by getting the usual co-citation links. The value add is purely administrative at this point if we ignore and assume that the content will be unique and the link destinations being appropriate. The job may need to be done, but ultimately there is nothing cutting edge, original or special on using linking sites that are freely available to the public.
Everybody in the SEO industry keeps going on about compelling content and link attraction like a mantra, but few really understand it. For those that do, few will have options beyond what I call link attraction or link baiting (creating compelling content that attracts links and social shares). Google is already tuning down the effectiveness of info graphics and guest posts just as it had done with press releases in 2005.
To really get ahead in SEO, you have to have resources that are not publicly available. You need to have something not so easily obtained i.e. not easily bestowed editorially. A real marketing company will be able to obtain that for you whether thats via sponsorship, charity donation, original research, events or simply closed media networks. Not only will it be hard or near impossible for competitors to obtain, it put’s you/your client on the winning edge and that is the place to be.