Generate More Leads With Long Tail Keywords

Long Tail SEO

Long tail SEO involves optimizing your content around long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are longer and more specific keywords or phrases of three words or more that your prospects are more likely to use when they’re getting closer to the point-of-purchase or when they’re using voice search.

Searchers that use long tail keywords know exactly what they’re looking for and tend to be at an advanced stage of the buying funnel. For example, a user that enters a specific search query such as black ralph laurent polo shirt with big pony is more likely to have more commercial or buyer intent than a user that simply searches for polo shirts.

Shorter keywords are also a lot harder to rank for, which is why optimizing for the long tail keyword gives you a better chance of appearing at the top of an organic result than if you optimize for the ultra-competitive “polo shirts“. There are hundreds of polo shirt brands. If a user simply types in “polo shirt”, if you’re running an AdWords campaign, you may not want to bid for this keyword because you may not carry the particular polo shirt the user is searching for, leading to a wasted click, enough of which can become very expensive.

In fact, you may want to add such keywords as exact match negatives. This is because you want to make sure that the traffic you’re paying for has the highest chance of converting. The more information in a search query, and the longer tail it is, the more we can learn about the commercial intent of the keyword.

The fact of the matter is that long tail keywords almost always have a better click through rate, lower cost per conversion and a better engagement on site than broader, short tail keywords.

Check out this video from Moz’s Rand Fishkin on long tail keywords:

Furthermore, once you’re ranking for the long tail keyword, you will naturally begin to rank for related and much shorter keywords. So, even though you might initially be attracting less traffic by optimizing for long tail keywords, the traffic you’ll be attracting to your site will be much more targeted, focused and more commercially driven, delivering much better return-on-investment (ROI) than shorter keywords.

According to Neil Patel, using long tail keywords as anchor text and titles or subtitles in your blog give you a ranking bost over simply including them in the body.

Here’s an infographic with information on the value of long tail keywords:

long tail keywords

Source

Broad and Long Tail Keywords

Broad search queries are typically used by searchers who are at the beginning of the buying cycle. Searchers who use broad keywords are usually just starting out their research. These search terms are usually searched on much more often than specific keywords. However, conversion rates tend to be low for these types of keywords because searchers are typically at the awareness or research stage of the buying funnel. You would typically use broad keywords if you have branding goals in mind, and are more interested in getting as many eyeballs to your site as possible rather than converting traffic.

Examples of broad keywords and phrases:

“greeting cards”
“kids toys”
“used cars”

On the other hand, searchers who use long tail keywords in their search query already know exactly what they want and are in a more advanced phase of the buying funnel. These keywords are not searched on that often and may not be as popular as broad keywords. However, conversion rates tend to be higher because searchers that use them are usually ready to buy. You would use specific keyword phrases if you are more interested in conversions than getting as much traffic to your site as possible.

Examples of long tail keywords and phrases:

  • How much does a vintage christmas greeting card cost?
  • Where can I buy vintage christmas greeting card online?
  • What does a vintage Christmas greeting card cost?
  • Where is the best greeting card store closest to me?

When creating long tail keywords, you’ll typically start with one or two-word keywords or phrases, also known as “core” or “seed” keywords. Core keywords typically have lots of search traffic and are far too competitive to optimize for.

For example, if you are trying to write content for a company that sells educational toys, your core keyword would be something like “toys”. However, optimizing for such an ambiguos word would be a really bad idea because it would be very difficult to figure out the intent of the searcher, as people who use such words may have all sorts of motives. Furthermore, searchers who use such broad words are typically at the beginning of their research.

On the other hand, a more descriptive and specific long tail keyword such as “educational toys for three year old girls uk” clarifies the intent of the searcher. The searcher is looking for educational toys for three year old girls, and is based in the UK. People who used these types of keywords have already completed their research and are more likely to convert.

It is not difficult to come up with more specific, longtail keywords. However, how many people are searching for this keyword? Even though the search term might be relevant, if you are simply speculating on what people are typing in to search for your products or services, you’ll be guessing and could be making a big mistake. This is because the actual number of people searching in that context could be too low to bother optimizing for the particular search term.

Keyword Targeting

Targeting long tail keywords simply means choosing a particular long tail keyword, and then writing content to address the user intent behind it. In other words, you’re focused on understanding the intent of the user that uses that search term in their search and what problems or challenge they are experiencing. Targeting these keywords in your content will attract engaged visitors who are interested in what you’re selling.

Developing a content marketing strategy around long tail keywords that are used to search for your products and services by your target audience is key to increasing your organic search ranking for your target keywords, and ultimately attracting the right traffic that converts on your site’s goals. If you are still using the wrong keywords to optimize your site, you won’t reach or attract the right target audience.

Increased Conversion Rates

Searchers who use long tail keywords when looking for information tend to have a higher conversion rate than other visitors. Generally, the longer the search query, the less search volume and, thus, less competition. Individually, long tail keywords may not account for a lot of searches, but when taken together, they tend to attract lots of relevant and likely to convert visitors to your website than the more general keywords such as “flowers“, “roses“, “mens shoes” and “leather jackets”.

The natural benefit of targeting specific keywords consisting of three words or more is that when you start to rank and get traffic for the longer keyword phrases such as “where is the best book store near me,” and “which book shop is open right now”, you will naturally begin to rank better for shorter versions of the keyword phrases, such as “book store,” “book shop,” and “buy books.”

Semantic Search

Google’s latest algorithm, the Hummingbird, has made the development of content that speaks directly to your target audience and directly answers specific questions they might be asking, an absolute priority. In order to rank your content on Google search, rather than finding out the best keywords for your website or web pages, it is much more important to figure out the many different questions your potential customers may ask, and provide subject-relevant, meaningful and detailed answers that specifically and directly answers those questions.

It is now extremely important to anticipate the many different questions your customers and potential customers may have, and deliver insightful, meaningful solutions to those customer questions across social platforms including your blog, Google+ and other relevant communities. If you are highly focused on addressing the specific needs of your audience, your content is more likely to rank according to the Google Hummingbird algorithm.

Essentially, long tail keywords are probably some of the simplest types of keywords to optimize for, mainly because you will not see as much competition for these types of keywords as you will for shorter, more competitive search terms. In addition, because the searcher is using such specific terms rather than more generic keywords, it is very likely that they have completed their research and are now ready to buy.

Lower Advertising Costs

Long tail keywords are even more valuable for users who are running paid search advertising campaigns because the cost-per-click is lower due to less competition. In fact, you can get higher ad placements and much cheaper clicks.

How to Perform Competitor Analysis

Importance of Competitor Analysis

Even though it is often overlooked, competitor analysis is one of most important aspects of SEO. Analysing the top-ranking websites in your industry that the search engines find most relevant for your target keywords is a very important step in your SEO and internet marketing campaign. In fact, analysing your competitors’ links, content and social media presence should be the very first step in your SEO strategy. It can reveal valuable insights about what competitors may be doing wrong so that you can capitalize and avoid their mistakes.

Your competitors are those websites that offer the same services as you, and are ranking organically for the same keywords you want to rank for. So, let’s assume you are a Northampton based boudoir photography business that offers boudoir photoshoots through your website. Since you can only offer your services within the Northampton area, the competitors you should be concerned with are those websites that are ranking on the first page of the search engines for keywords like “boudoir photography northampton” or “boudoir northampton“. Competitor analysis can uncover why those websites are ranking high on the search results pages, and how you can improve your own competitive advantage.

Competitor analysis gives you the insights you need to see what is working for your competitors, and  how far off your website is from that of your top competitors. It is important that you focus on competitors that consistently dominate the upper half of the first page of search results in the search engines for your money keywords. Also known as buyer intent keywords, your money keywords are a range of high search volume keywords that are used by your prospective customers when they are looking to buy the type of products and services that you sell.

Search engine algorithms are a closely guarded secret, and Google is known to use over 200 ranking factors when analyzing a site for organic search. For each ranking factor, it’s practically impossible to know exactly what the search engine considers to be a “perfect” score. But by continually analyzing the top ranking sites, you can get meaningful clues because they’re most consistently ranked for top keyword categories.

Identifying Your Top Competitors

Knowing who you are competing with online and how they are doing in organic search is important because it gives you a better idea of how you should be running your business. As mentioned earlier, it is important to use keywords your prospects would use when researching your products or services or when they want to buy your products or services. If you want to identify the top 10 competitors for “abc company”, an e-commerce company that sells plasma TVs to a global audience, you’ll need do some research on SEO and social media. Start by performing a detailed search on Google for your money words using a verbatim search (www.google.com/ncr). So, for plasma TVs, a money keyword would be “buy plasma tv”.

As far as competitor analysis is concerned, it is not always straightforward to identify your true competitors. This is because you cannot consider top ranking pages in your niche as competitors if those websites have been able to successfully establish a great level of trust with Google over the years. What makes this difficult is that Google tends to relax the rules for trusted, well-established domains. This means that once a website has established trust with Google, they will not be subject to the same scrutiny as a relatively new website. This means they will be able to get away with certain SEO practices that could earn a newly established site a penalty.

For example, a highly trusted site can get away with having a higher percentage of exact match anchor text than relatively new sites. Trusted sites can also optimize their webpages for keywords in ways that would normally be too risky for a newer site. It is critically important to keep this in mind as you perform competitor analysis. Essentially, your main competitors should be similar sites in your niche who are ranking very high on the Google or Bing SERP. If you are an ecommerce site selling plasma TVs, sites like Amazon or PC World are not your competitors.

Once you have identified your true competitors, you can begin the actual research of these sites by checking out their backlinks, their content strategy and social media presence.

Researching Competitor Backlinks

It is important to perform backlink research on a regular basis: weekly, or at least once a  month. The top-ranking competitors for your most important keywords will have backlink profiles that Google prefers in a particular niche. These websites have also done the hardest part of link building for you. They have identified quality websites for your target keywords that are willing to link out, and they have vetted worthwhile links that you could benefit from, too.

The fact of the matter is, your competitors offer the same range of products and services that you do, and generally cater to the same target audience. If you have content that matches what is on your competitors’ pages, these sites might find your site equally useful for their target audiences, and you might be able to convince them to link their site to you too. Note however, that if some of your competitors are huge authority sites, you’ll find it tough to understand the type of content that generated the backlinks for them.

The fastest way to achieve top rankings is to try to get links from the same sites that are linking to the top five search results for your desired keywords. You can accomplish this with Moz’s Competitive Link finder. This tool enables you to get insights from up to four of your competitors by cross referencing the links that they have pointing at their domains. When you find multiple instances of the same prospect linking to more than one of your competitors, you can pretty much conclude that these are stronger candidates for your link outreach campaign.

You need to find out the number of domains linking to each competitor’s home page. You can get this information using tools like Majestic, Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer. Take note of how the competitor is using anchor text on their site. Note that these are all paid tools. However each of these tools will provide a limited amount of information for free. You can also get additional insights for free using siteexplorer.info.

The most ideal backlinks from a web page that:

  1. is well-established with good domain authority (10+), page authority (10+) and trust flow;
  2. is an authority within your industry, with lots of natural backlinks coming to it from related sites, as well as some link outs to other authority websites;
  3. has strong social signals;
  4. has a recent google cache date;
  5. is focused on the same subject as your webpage, even using some of the same keywords;
  6. uses meaningful anchor text that contains a variety of branded and generic keywords in the link to your page.

Identifying Prospects

Performing Competitor Analysis

You need to know as much as you can about the web pages that rank well for your keywords. The types of things you need to know about your competitors’ web sites can be divided into four categories:

  1. On-page elements (such as content and metadata)
  2. Links (Backlinks as well as outbound links to other pages)
  3. Alexa ranking

On-Page Elements

If you want to find out what keywords your competitors use and how they’re using them, look at their content, and analyze their other on-page factors. You can use SEMrush or Keyword Spy to find out what a web page’s organic search keywords are. In addition, you can also use SEOQuake which is a preconfigured automation tool that you can use for proper research and analysis. You can install SEOQuake in either Firefox or Internet Explorer. It is free.

In Excel, open a new spreadsheet and call it Competitors. Create some more column headings, one for each of the following items. Column A should be for each competitors and should have a descriptive heading – such as their URL to distinguish each competitor.

In this first column, list each of your competitors’ web pages, one per row. Under column A’s heading, type the URL (the web page address, such as www.drake.com/article-title) for each competing web page – these should be the pages that are ranking well in search results.

  1. Page Title: This count shows how many words are in the page’s title tag which is part of the HTML code that gets read by the search engines). It is the most important meta tag.
  2. Meta Description: The meta description tag is important as it appears in the search results page and can influence CTR. The Meta description tag is not a ranking factor, but is important because it is usually displayed in the SERP and often read by potential visitors to your site. Clickthrough rate from the search results page is a Google ranking factor, so the description tag is now one of the most important meta tags because it could make the difference between a searcher clicking on your site or that of your competitors when faced with a choice between two or more similar pages.
    Best practice: 150 to 155 characters in length. Recommendation: Match what your competitors are doing by putting 20 or 21 words in your meta description tag using compelling copy.
  3. SEO Metrics: Take note of SEO metrics such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, Ahrefs Domain Rank and URL Rank, Citation Flow, Trust Flow.
  4. Keywords: Use SEMRush and SERPfox to track how the keyword ranking for each competitor. You can also use GeoRanker to track geo-targeted keywords rankings at the local and national levels. SEMRush will tell you which top ten keywords the site is ranking for. This tool tells you the position of each keyword in Google, each keyword’s search volume per month, PPC information, the level of competition for each keyword and the number of Google search results for that term.  Note that if you are targeting a specific number of keywords, you will need to create a landing page for each main keyword.
  5. International Alexa Ranking: Go to Alexa, type in your competitor’s website, click the Get Details button, and then click the Search Analytics tab. On the right side, you will see Top Queries From Search Traffic. The alexa rankings go from 1 to over 30 million, and they are based on how much traffic a website receives. Make a note of the Alexa rank of your competitors.
  6. Regional Alexa Ranking: Note down the Alexa rank in the country you’re targeting. You can see the country-specific Alexa Rank by going to http:// www.alexa.com/ site info, typing in the domain you’re interested in finding out about then clicking on the ‘Get Details’ button before scrolling down to see the country-specific ranks.
  7. Background Information: What is the age of the domain? If your competitor’s site is much older than your domain, it might be harder to beat. What type of IP address does the site have. Is it using a dedicated server or shared hosting? If the site is using a dedicated IP, this indicates a more serious business.
  8. Are they using WordPress? To find out if a competitor is using WordPress, go to www.domainname.com/wp-includes. If you get a list with filenames and links in it, this means the site is powered by WordPress.

Alexa Ranking

An Alexa rank of 200,000 or less indicates the website is getting regular, reasonable levels of traffic. Be sure to check the Alexa Rank for each of your competitors to get a feel for where your site fits in the marketplace. You may also want to check Alexa rank on a country-by-country basis to see how well your competitors are doing in the locations you are targeting.

Using Alexa or other free keyword-spying tools such as Keyword Spy is one way to find out which keywords are actually delivering quality traffic to your competitors. The keywords from which they receive traffic might be the best keywords for you. However, it is important to bear in mind that just because a particular keyword delivers traffic to a site, it doesn’t mean it delivers “quality traffic”.

Using Competitor Information

With all of the information that you have gathered about your competitors, you are now ready to perform the actual process of competitor analysis. Remember that your ultimate goal is to figure out how to first of all make yourself equal and then ultimately better than your competition.

Content Marketing

It is important to identify what type of content has worked for your competition so that you know what type of content is more likely to resonate with your target market. The aim should be to understand what is working for them so that you can incorporate this into your own content marketing.

You want to find out:

  • how their content is being shared across the major networks
  • what is being shared the most
  • what is linked to the most
  • what types of content format your competitors are using: text, video, audio, etc.
  • the most successful content formats
  • who is sharing this content

There are a number of tools you can use to analzye the content of your competitors and how it is working for them. You can use Social Crawlytics and Buzzsumo to identify content on competing blogs that have done well socially (likes, shares, +1’s, links, etc.) You can then analyse a number of factors such as topic, article length, format and links.

Social Media

You’ll want to analyse how successful your competitors are on social media. Find out the following information:

  • how active are your competitors on social media?
  • what platforms are they present on?
  • how many followers do they have on each platform?
  • how successful is their content in terms of likes, shares and comments?
  • what type of content do they share with their followers?
  • how engaged are their followers?

Keyword Cannibalization

The impact of site architecture on search engine rankings, is quite substantial. In fact, there is a major co-relation between poor site architecture and poor search rankings. In addition to page content, search engines use signals such as the site architecture and information hierarchy of your site to determine how relevant a given webpage is to a keyword within a given search query.

Whilst you’re not expected to be a website designer, having a basic understanding of the inner workings of how a particular site’s architecture affects its SEO is essential.

Understanding Site Architecture

Site architecture is the approach to the design and planning of a website. Website architecture can mean the difference between being on at the top of the first page of Google, and being on Page 3 Position 4. It’s that important.

Think about site architecture from an accessibility standpoint – you want to make your content easy to navigate for both users and search engines. Therefore, developing a site that is both search engine compatible and user-friendly requires that you put some serious consideration into the content, usability, navigation, page layout and structure of the entire framework that supports your web site content.

The way in which you set up your site should tell the search engines exactly what each webpage is about and which is the most important page for each category or subcategory. In effect, your site should be organized with relevant categories pointing to relevant subcategories. For example, if you were on an e-commerce site browsing an online shoe store, you should be able to click on the ‘Men’s’ category and then browse into sub-categories such as ‘Athletics’, ‘Boots’, or ‘Sandals’. This simple click-path is not only search engine compatible, its user-friendly because it allows visitors to move about freely throughout the site without having to wonder what to do or where to go next.

Thus, search engine compatible site architecture is the process of organizing your site in such a way that search engines (and users) can get a good, clear picture of who you are, what your website is about and what your most important pages are so that your product and/or content pages can get crawled in large quantities.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is a widespread information architecture problem that typically occurs when multiple pages on a website have been optimized for the same keywords. In this scenario, the website owner is inadvertently competing with their own content. It occurs when webmasters intentionally optimize several pages for the same key term with a view to reinforcing the relevance of the entire site to that keyword. The problem is that the search engine spider will not know which webpage to show when people are searching for specific terms.

Keyword cannibalization is not to be taken lightly because it could be detrimental to any potential ranking for your target keyword. To maximize your chances of success of your SEO campaign, it is essential that any issues are resolved before the start of your SEO campaign.

It is important to make clear to Google which page you think is most relevant to a search query, and creating an organized keyword structure would be the ideal way to organize your content so that you avoid problems with keyword cannibalization. For example, let’s assume you’re trying to rank a page for the keyword “email marketing”. What people typically do is to create several pages that are all optimized for that keyword with a view to establishing the site’s authority for that keyword. So many pages optimized for the same keyword will ultimately lead to keyword cannibalization issues.

A much more effective solution would be to create a primary conversions page that is optimized for the term “email marketing.” You could then have additional child pages with relevant topics that are close to but do not compete with the main conversion page. These pages could be optimized for different synonyms and variations around the primary keyword email marketing. Examples of relevant topics directly related to email marketing include Email Marketing ROI, email marketing FAQs, Advantages of Email Marketing, How to Write Effective Subject Lines for Email Marketing, etc.

You can then build internal links from your child pages and external links pointing back to the primary conversions page, intelligently using anchor text that is optimized for the theme of the target page. This will let the search engine spiders know that your primary conversions page is your most important page, and where they should send your potential customers for the keyword email marketing. This will also have the effect of increasing the organic search ranking of the conversions page for the target keyword which is ultimately what you are aiming for.

Understanding Linkable Assets

What is a Linkable Asset?

A linkable asset is any piece of content on your website that you can use as link bait to generate links from contextually relevant, established sites in your niche without having to pay for those links. For example, software tools naturally attract links simply because end users find these types of links incredibly useful. Without a linkable asset, you won’t have anything special you can use to attract or encourage organic backlinks to your site. Consequently, you won’t be able to craft powerful link prospecting queries because you don’t have anything to use as the basis of your link prospecting email.

When done right, linkable assets can generate:

  1. Quality, editorial links from authoritative sources
  2. High converting traffic
  3. Co-citations
  4. Social engagement
  5. Qualified leads

When determining what is likely to earn links for your site, it is important to analyse the top ranking sites in your niche to get an idea of the type of content that typically or naturally attracts links. Take a look at their website. What pieces of content would users find good enough to link to? Check out their backlink profile. What webpages are generating the most links and what types of content are generating the most links? How successful have they been at generating links? You may find that the most popular sources of links is content that makes life easier for people in general. For example, if you are researching competitor backlinks for an online training provider, you may find that useful and practical how-to videos or PDF reports tutorial that teach users how to solve specific problems are some of the most popular pieces of content.

In addition, publishing compelling content such as high quality infographics, PDF reports, embeddable tools, research materials, whitepapers, web based tools or applications that solves common problems are some of the most effective ways to acquire backlinks to your site. Equally, if you offer coupons to customers or prospective customers, then you can list those coupons on coupon-listing sites, many of which will link back to your website.

Elements of a powerful linkable asset:

  1. Relevant to the target audience.
  2. High perceived value
  3. Highly informative, educational or entertaining
  4. Generates a high level of curiousity.
  5. Aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Attractive to your audience.
  7. In-depth and comprehensive
  8. Evergreen
  9. Aimed at a specific audience
  10. Targets a high search volume keyword

For each linkable asset you have on your site, it would be helpful to determine who might be incentivized enough to want link or mention your site in conversations. When using a particular piece of content as a linkable asset, you need to provide information that is actionable, useful, practical or not easily available anywhere else on the web.

Remember: the more original and difficult the problem you are solving and the more simplified it is, the more linkable the asset will be, and the easier it will be to convert prospects into links. Furthermore, the more in-depth and comprehensive you are, the more backlinks you will successfully generate.

Examples of Linkable Assets:

  1. Rich media content including podcasts, images, webinars, infographics, slide presentations and/or high quality videos.
  2. Articles or blog posts
  3. Webinars
  4. Video tutorial that teaches your audience how to accomplish a specific task.
  5. Games
  6. Lists
  7. PDF reports.
  8. Audio files.
  9. Products for review
  10. Software tools and services
  11. Free tools, widgets or apps.
  12. Informative guides such as product reviews, how-tos, consumer guides, etc
  13. eBooks
  14. Spreadsheet designed to help consumers manage their finances.

Importance of Co-Citations For SEO

What Is A Co-Citation?

Co-citations are effectively “mentions” across the web. A mention occurs when an article or blog post about a topic in your industry refers to your site in relation to a particular product or service, but doesn’t actually establish a link to your site. This is a citation. A citation is valued by Google because it’s organic and authoritative. Someone chose to cite you as a source of their own volition.

For example, if you provide computer repair services and your site is reviewed in an article as a “leading computer repair firm in London” without actually linking to it, that is a co-citation or mention.

If you get a number of articles on well-established websites and social networks also refer to your site in the same terms, this will serve as a strong ranking signal to Google.

Note that mentions of computer repair services in direct relation to your website can trigger the ranking of your site for relevant search queries for related services like computer networking even when your website has not been optimized for the keywords: computer networking.

Citations are valued by Google because, unlike backlinks that you can purchase, it is much more difficult to manipulate the system with citations. To expand on the concept of a co-citation, consider the following definition from Sourceforget.net.

The Website defines a co-citation as:

“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.”

Let’s say you’re in the IT industry and a particular website (site A) references a blog post or article on your site (site C). In the same article, site A also references Microsoft.com – an authority site (site B) that is closely related to your industry. In this scenario, some of the respect and authority from Microsoft (the authority site) will flow down to site C (your site).

To make this a lot clearer, consider the following example: say you run an online computer store that sells Windows and Apple computers including desktops, laptops and tablets. On your site, you have an educational blog in which you teach people how to perform a variety of computer tasks that the average consumer will find a bit challenging to do on their own. One of your most popular articles is a step-by-step blog post on how to setup a local computer network to share files and printers between Windows, Linux, and Apple computers.

Now, let’s assume that there is an excellent whitepaper on the Microsoft.com Website that teaches how to create a network between Windows 7, XP, and Vista desktops, laptops, tablets, feature phones, Android smartphones and wireless printers. However, unlike your blog post, the article doesn’t describe how to create a network between all of those devices and iMacs and iPhones. So, your blog post fills a gap in the article, and the Microsoft whitepaper also fills a gap in your article, because it discusses how to setup a network that includes feature smartphones and printers, which you do not actually discuss in your post.

On a 3rd party website, an article discusses the subject of networking smartphones, printers, Windows and Apple computers. The author references the networking article on the Microsoft website. However, the article also mentions that the Microsoft whitepaper does not explain how to create a network between Windows and Apple computers and peripherals. The article also references your blog post and explains how your blog post fills in the information that is missing in the Microsoft article. This is a co-citation.

As far as Google is concerned, your website is being talked about on the web, and it is being talke about in the same context as a leading authority (Microsoft). That is huge. It is much better than an anchor text backlink because it is editorial, and this makes it so much more powerful.

Your website will share some of Microsoft’s respect from Google because of the context in which your site and blog post was referenced, not because of any specific keywords embedded into the link. In this case, the link to your site should be a branded link (such as http:www.example.com/networking-computers.html). It should not be anchor text. Enough co-citations like this, and your site will receive a massive boost on the SERPs from co-citations alone.

How to Earn a Co-Citation

The reason why Google ascribes so much value to co-citations is because it’s much more difficult to manipulate co-citations than anchor text backlinks. Earning mentions–on a monthly basis in top publications in your market will keep your brand relevant. You will need to create something meaningful that will inspire people talk about your site. In short, co-citations must be truly earned. You can do this by creating content that is meaningful, valuable and hard to find. When you create this type of content, other people will read it, share it, and write about it themselves.

Verification Of Authenticity

It is important to note that when it comes to co-citations or mentions, Google has a way of identifying fake ones. Google uses variety of mentions as a means of verifying the authenticity of a particular co-citation. For example, if suddenly your website’s name starts to get mentioned across the web with the exact same sentence describing what you do and the service you provide or the products that you sell, that will not sound natural. In all likelihood, Google will view that as an attempt to manipulate the search process, and strong penalties will follow.

Something similar happened with the British website Interflora over Valentine’s Day. Interflora sponsored hundreds of paid advertisements that appeared in regional newspaper sites in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, each of these had a similar phrasing and heading, all of which were pointing to the Interflora website. Google not only delisted Interflora from its index, but it also penalized each of the regional newspaper websites that participated in the infraction by dropping their PageRank (PR) to zero. You can read more about the case here:

Getting Mentions with HARO

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can be a great resource for scoring free publicity, links and mentions on major media sites. It is a free online resource that connects journalists that need sources with business owners that are looking to get featured on major media publications including ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN, New York Times, Business Week, Reuters and the Hearst Corporation. HARO is also one of the most effective ways on the web for getting small business stories in front of big media.

Home page of HARO

HARO can be a great resource for generating free publicity for your brand

To get started, start by registering at www.helpareporter.com for a free account. Under ‘Sources’, sign up and indicate your fields of expertise. You can sign up for a standard, basic, advanced or premium package. Whatever the package you choose, you’ll receive emails three times a day from journalists that need sources in your chosen categories. These emails will arrive at exactly the same time.