Sources of relevant incoming links and traffic for your website SEO - co-citation and co-occurrence

Relevant traffic and high quality incoming links for your website

What is modern SEO?
SEO, Links and Traffic
Google+ and SEOFacebook and SEOBlogging and SEO

Despite the real need to expand your presence in the social networks, it's crucial not to under-estimate the continued importance of linking between websites to the Google search algorithm and, of course, for the generation of direct traffic via your incoming links.

ammonet InfoTech owns several hundred authorative websites in the tourism and antiquarian book and map sectors. Part of our SEO strategy is to provide relevant links to the web pages of our customers, both to send high value traffic directly and to improve the ranking of our customers' pages and websites in the search engine search results (SERPs).

The most important features of links in successful search engine optimisation are as follows:

The authority of the website from which the link originates

Authority refers to how important the website (or page) is to Google and that in turn is supposed to reflect the site's importance to users. A website that routinely ranks high in the Google search results is by definition an "authoritative" site. This should be and usually is a reflection of the estime in which the site is held by real users as reflected in traffic levels and incoming links. Links from a few authoritative site far outweigh hundreds of links from rubbishy sites. Quality trumps quantitiy every time with Google.

The anchor text

The "anchor text" is the word or phrase which is linked to the target site. This text should be relevant to the subject matter of the target site and it should be relevant to and fit naturally into the content of the originating site. It's also very important that the anchor  text varies. Google punishes websites that receive many links all with identical anchor text.

The relevance of the website content to linking

There are still advertisements around offering to sell links from "high page rank (PR)" websites. These are now virtually useless unless the site from which the link originates is authoritative AND has content closely related to the content of the target site (or page). In other words, links should be seen by Google to be between websites or at least webpages with similar subject matter. Not only the anchor texts but also the web pages should be related in terms of content.

Are outgoing links relevant for SEO?

The orthodoxy is that it's not a good idea to put too many outgoing links on your website. Obviously, the more of them you have, the more chance you have of sending your visitors elsewhere. When you place outgoing links on your website, make them "no follow" (rel="nofollow") unless you wish to help with the SEO of the target website. (All links provided by ammonet websites to our customers' web pages are "follow" links.)

There are, nevertheless, reasons for placing at least some outgoing links to related websites on your site.

The first reason is the so-called "long click" factor which is thought to be measured by Google. This is in essence a record of how long the user remains on your site, longer meaning a more interesting site and a site relevant to the search result. Obviously, the best way to retain visitors for longer is to provide what they want - interesting, original and relevant data. However, if your outgoing links open a new browser wondow, your own site stays open while your visitor is elsewhere - a "long click" - and eventually your visitor is likely to come back to your site because it is still open.

The second reason is discussed in the next section and can be summarised by the observation that it's positive for your website to be seen by Google to be located in a "good neighbourhood", meaning to receive but also send out links to authority sites.

Authority and "guilt by association"

It's important to ensure that your links are current, relevant and authoritative. HOWEVER, it's now important to look at the link array of the sites that are linking into your site and of the sites to which you link. The reason is that Google also does this and you can become "guilty by association" with websites that are themselves interlinking more directly with spammy or otherwise defective websites. Google detects sites that link out to clusters of bad domains, the latter being sites that offer little value for the user, employ spam-like tactics, and provide little if any relevant content or services. Guilty websites are, of course, punished to varying degrees by Google, in terms of placement in the SERPs. This means that even if you never link to a spammy blog network, you must take appropriate action if one of your link partners does.

In contrast, if your link partners are themselves of high quality and link only with high quality sites, some of this "authority" will rub off on your website, with positive effects in SERP rank. All of ammonet's advertising websites are high authority sites.

Keyword "co-occurrence"

A currently rather speculative aspect of website authority has been designated "co-occurrence" or, sometimes, "co-citation". This refers to positive (and maybe also negative) effects in the SERPs that can be induced for your website in the absence of links. It seems that if high authority sites use particular keywords or key phrases and your site also uses the same or similar words with similar word density, again some of this "authority" will rub off on your website, with positive effects in SERP rank. It is worth noting that Google appears to respond positively, perhaps even more positively, to synonyms than it does to identical wording and phrasing, whether this is in anchor texts, title tags or body content. In other words, semantic similarity, often in the form of synonyms, is much to be preferred over keyword stuffing which is known to have negative effects.

What matters with regard to linking?

  • On no account receive links from or send links to spammy networks. Choose content partners who follow the same policy.
  • Authority for your own site and your linking partners is very important. Link to and from reputable sites that are relevant to your content and business sector. 
  • Quality now completely overshadows quantity. Links are important but many spammy links will cancel out the value of a few targeted links. In contrast, having just a few authoritative links is far better than having thousands of links from rubbish sources.
  • While links remain important for SEO success – content matters as much or more. Choose your own brand’s top semantic associations carefully. If other authoratative websites won’t link to you, try to get them to talk about you with selected keywords – this alone can increase your ranking.

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