What is Co-occurrence and How Does it Help Your SEO?

SEO is a changing game. You always have to come up with something new, original and exciting stuff to help your users...

Written by Deepanshu Gahlaut · 3 min read >
co-occurence in seo

SEO is a changing game. You always have to come up with something new, original and exciting stuff to help your users and make SEO better.

Google is always trying to help people by delivering better results, especially for conversational searches with long-tail keywords. In order to achieve this, Google always looks for the quality, natural language and easy to read content.

Co-occurrence, which is certainly not a new thing, but with the emergence of the need for quality content and to serve Google Hummingbird algorithm, it has evolved into a better position than ever before.

So, what is co-occurrence and how does it help your SEO?

Co-occurrence: An Overview

Co-occurrence refers to the common presence, frequency, and proximity of similar terms present on different websites. By using synonyms, long-tail, and related terms, it helps search engines to identify the real meaning of a keyword if the keyword has several meanings.

For example, the keyword “Java” is ambiguous. if a page is about “Java” and it includes keywords like “object-oriented” “language”, “programming”, “software “, this helps Google understand that the page is about Java programming language.

On the other hand, if the page includes keywords like “Indonesia”, “island”, “Indonesia”, “Jakarta”, “population”, then Google understands that the page is about Indonesian island, Java.

confused man

But, in reality, how does co-occurrence look like?

“…..I recommend Moz’s Keyword Explorer, a leading keyword research tool to get keyword ideas, SEO competition and monthly search volume for your business so you can easily optimize your pages for Google search…….”

In the above example, it is clear that Moz’s Keyword Explorer which is a tool for keyword research, include related terms such as “monthly search volume” “keyword ideas” and “Google search”. So, if someone searches for “keyword ideas for your business” or “monthly search volume”, Google may return you the Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool page in search results.

Co-occurrence helps search engines decide the relevancy and quality of a page to a greater extent and how well it explains the search term.

For example, if you search “Steve Jobs”, Google will look for the pages that include similar and related terms to “Steve Jobs” such as his company name, personal information, age, death, quotes etc. The pages having such related terms are considered to have in-depth information and natural content.

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm which helps Google better understand the search intent of a user, uses co-occurrence to identify synonyms to substitute query terms.

Under Hummingbird, co-occurrence is used to identify words that may be synonyms of each other in certain contexts while following certain rules according to which, the selection of a certain page in response to a query where such a substitution has taken place has a heightened probability.

Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea

How to Use Co-occurrence to Influence Your Rankings

Although such use of related terms, synonyms, and long-tail keywords may not drastically improve your search engine rankings (if your content is of poor quality) but it will definitely help you improve your website’s search engine optimization.

Below are few tips that will help you know how to use co-occurrence in your search engine optimization process.

1. Make Use of Synonyms & Related Terms

You can lower your page’s quality and relevance score if it does not include a reasonable mix of synonyms, related terms, and long-tail keywords in content. Google also recommends using synonyms in a natural way in your content because it helps Google understand what is your page really about.

For example, if you search for “SEO consultant”, Google may return pages with “SEO company”, “SEO services” as related concepts.

2. Use Branded Anchor Texts

It simply means avoiding rich anchor text and have a brand name in your anchor text of the link.

For example, Instead of using “Best Keyword Tool” as an anchor text, “Moz’s Keyword Tool” looks more natural, meaningful and associate your brand with the topic.

3. Mention Keywords Around Links

If you are not using branded anchor texts, it is advised to mention your keyword around that link text. This will make your content and link profile look more natural.

For example, if your targeted keyword anchor text looked like this:

“….You can use Moz’s tool to find keywords data and competition…..”

Should be written like this using co-occurrence:

“…..You can use Moz’s tool, a leading keyword research tool to get keyword ideas, SEO competition and monthly search volume for your business so you can easily optimize your pages for Google search…..”

Co-citation and Co-occurrence: What’s the difference?

Both are used interchangeably but are actually different in meaning and purpose. Co-occurrence is about the relationship between the words, on the other hand, co-citation is about the relationship between links (linked or unlinked mentions).


Search engine always tries to recognize well-designed and high-quality web pages that offer relevant and helpful content to users. And co-occurrence is one such technique that helps them better understand your content. Your goal should be to provide quality content and a great experience to users.

Generally speaking, these four things are very important to make co-occurrence, a reality:

  • Quality content (written naturally)
  • Synonyms, related terms and long-tail usage in content
  • Your branding and association with topic
  • The way how you link (anchor information and surrounding content)

Co-occurrence is an advanced SEO strategy that will not only help you develop a natural link profile, facilitate outstanding user experience, but, will also increase your visibility in search engine results.

As always, I’d like to know what you think about co-occurrence in the comment section below!

Written by Deepanshu Gahlaut
I write on SEO, content marketing, latest technologies, and social media. You can find me online, or at home watching sci-fi movies, listening songs, or sleeping. In addition, my latest obsession is creating, collecting and organizing visual content on my new blog - Infopixi, to help bloggers, marketers, and businesses. Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *