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More and more, I see websites ranking for key terms that don’t appear in their title tags and that don’t have any measurable inbound anchor text using that specific key term for which they are ranking. And in many cases the key term isn’t anywhere on the page. I’m not the only person who has noticed this.

So what’s happening?

Rand Fishkin does a good job of explaining about co-citation, which makes a lot of sense actually. We’ve looked at another type of citation that Google has become adept at using for SEO purposes in the local space as it relates to Google Places. Maybe Google is taking what it has learned from Google Places citations and applied it across the Net as a whole. That wouldn’t surprise me.

SEO is changing, folks. What used to work isn’t working any more for a lot of people. That doesn’t mean that anchor text, title tags, and other classic SEO tactics are dead, or dying. What it does mean is that they may have a diminished effect in the future as Google learns to look for other clues that will help it rank web pages for specific search queries that webmasters may not necessarily be targeting.

Is this good news? I think it is. I think it could mean less spam in the search results, but I also think it will make SEO better for online marketers who want to do it right.

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