co-occurrence in SEO is the instance when related words often show up with another
Co-occurrence, acrylic on canvas. 2014.

What does ‘Co-Occurrence’ mean for SEO?

2 minutes, 25 seconds Read

Though the SEO landscape has become a lot more complicated in recent years, unless you’re part of a digital marketing team or a savvy online business owner, 99% of people know very little about SEO outside of keywords and title tags. And even then, they very rarely do it correctly.

I’m not knocking these people, that’s why I have the job that I do. I love talking about SEO, but to be entirely truthful, I don’t LOVE talking about title tags and keywords all the time. I still love doing SEO but what I enjoy the most, what I LOVE nerding out about are the concepts and tactics that even the most-seasoned SEOs don’t always know very much about, much less the general populace.

More Than Titles and Keywords

Inspiration for this post was in large part because I wanted to keep myself sharp on the more niched SEO factors that I rarely ever get to do on a professional level. The other part was because I recently read this post on Search Engine Land, I wanted to write a couple paragraphs on co-occurrence and it’s potential impact on SEO.

What is SEO Co-Occurrence?

When speaking of co-occurrence in SEO, it’s basically the idea of what other words show up on the same page as others. Meaning, if we’re optimizing a page for the term ‘SEO’ some likely keywords that may show up often on pages alongside ‘SEO’ would look like this:

  • search
  • engine
  • optimization
  • google
  • ranking
  • content
  • keywords

So if you were to index all the content on the internet that focused on ‘SEO’ then you’d likely see a pattern of keywords that were also commonly found on those pages.

How does this help search engines? It helps their algorithms determine relevancy and the quality of the content on the page. So, if you write an article about ‘SEO’ without ever mentioning any of their co-occurring keywords, then search engines might not view your content as relevant as other pages that contain ‘google’, ‘search’, and ‘keywords’.

If you think about it from a search engine factor perspective, it makes a lot of sense. If you’re well-versed on a topic, then your content should not only have the target keyword but also naturally include related, or co-occurring, words (unless you’re writing about a brand new idea on the subject). If not, then the search engines will not treat your content as well as others that do pass the co-occurrence test.

If you’re looking to squeeze more SEO juice out from landing page content, one that is in a competitive industry, then don’t just add a few more instances of the primary keyword. Think about related words that could be inserted into the article and see what other words that are being often used by competitors. With two landing pages competing against one another, all other factors being equal, co-occurrence could give the edge in your favor.

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