Rand Fishkin, the CEO of SEOMoz.com, recently discovered a change in how Google is giving rank to websites. He calls it co-citation or co-occurrence.
Basically, Google’s algorithm is getting a lot smarter is determining what websites are the most relevant to a user’s search term. They now have the ability to rank websites for a search term that doesn’t even have that search term in the page title, or anywhere on the page. They are doing this by determining relational content. What this means is that they can now crawl blogs, articles, news clips and other websites that mention a brand and have keywords around the brand in the content and relate it to a website that most fits the brand and keywords, even though the relational website doesn’t even have any links pointing to the ranked website.
This is taking website ranking to a whole new level. As Google, and other search engines continue to develop this technology, it becomes more and more important for online companies to expand their brand awareness through social networks and various media channels. You want to get people talking about your brand in a positive way, and blog about it, Facebook it and Tweet it. The more independent, outside sources that are talking about your brand, the greater the value the search engines will give to that brand.
Rand gives three examples of websites where it is evident that this has occurred:
The first example is for the keyword phrase “cell phone ratings.” Ranking number four for this keyword phrase is consumberreports.com. What is interesting about this, is that the keyword phrase “cell phone ratings” is no where to be found on the page. It is not even in the title tags or H1 tags. You do find a lot of articles on the web that mention cell phone ratings and reviews, and mention Consumer Reports. This is relational content that Google seems to be giving value to Consumer Reports website for that particular phrase.
The second example is for the keyword phrase “manufacturing directory.” Ranking in the 2nd position is a website called thomasnet.com. The keyword phrase “manufacturing directory” is not found anywhere on the page. The word “manufacturing” is mentioned 4 times, and the word directory is not mentioned at all.
The third example is for the keyword phrase “backlink analysis.” Opensiteexplorer.org shows up ranked number 1 for this term, yet the term is nowhere to be found on the page.
Rand goes on to say that he feels this will be one of the future elements of SEO, brand association, having people write about your brand and share it with others. You can view his full video discussion on this topic at: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/prediction-anchor-text-is-dying-and-will-be-replaced-by-cocitation-whiteboard-friday
So this is a good thing to keep in mind when promoting and expanding your brand. Find ways to get others writing about and sharing your brand, and over time Google will give your branded website pages higher rankings because of it.