Links, Co-citations, and Unlinked citations

As we learned in the previous section, it is typically very important to have a good amount of link equity accruing in your most valuable pages, however not all links are equal – search engines analyse the linking page to determine its content and quality, then use those signals when deciding how each link should contribute to your page’s equity and authority scores.

When a specific piece of content (for instance, a phrase) near a link is used to help determine the context that this page is being linked in, this is called a co-citation.

I picked up a portable widget last weekend from WidgetWorld and it broke right away! Not a happy customer.

In the above snippet we see two co-citations that may be affecting the relevance of the link: this is a strong signal that WidgetWorld sells portable widgets, but also this citation was given with a negative sentiment. Too much negative sentiment may affect the page’s ability to rank, particularly if the user’s intent signifies that they are looking for a website with an overall positive sentiment (i.e. ‘best widget sellers’).

Unlinked citations have traditionally been used in local search optimisation; this practice involves building reviews and mentions of a business using its unique NAP (Name, Address, Phone) combination. Even without links, these placements help the ranking of websites, as they are votes that the business is real and the general public are aware of it (as opposed to websites that are not mentioned anywhere on the web).