When the time comes to publish fresh content on your website or to social media, there are some definite do’s and don’ts that you should follow… And citing your sources is one of them!

If you are creating your own content from scratch and not referencing or citing sources, then the advice here might not apply to you. However, there are still some fantastic tips to be had. So don’t leave us just yet.

The internet is awash with fantastic content. This content has taken the writer many hours to research, put together, validate and publish. There is so much more to it than simply writing.

Great content is a magnet for content thieves. But it’s not only the unscrupulous out there who are guilty of stealing content to pass off as their own. Many newbies do this without even realising.

Content is made to be shared. After all, what’s the point in crafting and masterpiece if nobody’s going to see it? But if you are going to share another writers content on your website or social media, you should always give credit.


Why Citing is a Good Thing

Citing your sources is not only good internet etiquette. It can also have a beneficial effect on your SEO rankings. Whenever you publish content on your website, Google takes a closer look at the outbound and inbound links.

These links can give your content more authority while boosting the site authority of the content owner. Pretty much a win-win situation. But SEO aside, citing your sources is a nod of respect to the original writer. Definitely something you yourself will appreciate when people start to cite your content.

Check Content Usage Guidelines

More often than not, websites have guidelines stating how and where you can use their content. These guidelines are not a way to prevent you from using the original content. They are typically put in place so that issues with duplicate content do not arise.

If there is one thing that the search engines hate, it is duplicate content. Duplicate content can have a direct impact on the organic search rankings of both the original content provider and your website.

And it’s not just a search engine that find this practice unacceptable. Think about it. How many times have you performed a search for something only to find exactly the same content time after time? If you want your content to have an impact on your audience, you have to be unique.

Depending on how many words your post has, you should avoid using more than 70 words of copy-and-paste quotes per 1,000 words of web copy. This way, you can avoid duplicate content issues while offering a fresh perspective on the subject.

If you find content on a website that doesn’t have any guidelines, the above rules should come into play. Remember, duplicate content is a bad thing for all involved. And just because a content provider hasn’t set out any guidelines, it doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all.

The Different Ways to Cite a Source

Regardless of the type of content that you are using, citing your source is pretty much the same. There are several different ways to go about this, with some definitely being more appreciated than others.

As an example, a hyperlink to the web page of the original content is definitely preferable to simply stating the writer’s name and website. Here are the different ways to cite your sources properly.

Adding an outbound link to the content that you have used is simple. An outbound link is a link that directs the user to an external website or page when they click on it.

Generally, your outbound link should direct it to the page that the quoted content is on. When you create an outbound link, the website you link to receives an inbound link. This is also known as a back-link, and it’s an important part of SEO.

The best way to think of an outbound link is a method of joining the dots. It helps the search engines work out how content connects together. And it can provide a boost to your customers, clients or neighbours SEO.

Use Social Media Handles

If you are using content from another website in an indirect way. Such as using statistics or data that the original site spends time working on. Statistics and data that you present in your own way. It’s seen as good internet etiquette to give them credit.

You could use an outbound link as described above to verify your data. Alternatively, you could give the social media handle in the copy of your content. Something along the lines of “thanks to @USERNAME for the recent statistics for PRODUCT/SERVICE”

Give a Shout-Out

Another great way to give credit where credit’s due is to give a shout out. Think of this as a combination of an outbound link and a social media handle.

Typically, a shout-out is included at the bottom of the content copy. It’s a fantastic way to show your appreciation for a content provider who inspires you with your writing.

A shout-out is also a great way of attracting the attention of influencers. It’s human nature to love compliments. And a complement given is oftentimes a compliment returned.

Citing Guest Bloggers

There is nothing more infuriating for a guest blogger than creating content for a website and not receiving credit. All of that hard work for little to no recognition can backfire on you.

If you have a guest blogger writing for you, make sure that the author name is clear. It is also a nice touch to include a bio about the guest blogger at the top or bottom of the post.

Linking back to their social media accounts and own personal blog or website is also going to be appreciated. Unless you have a ghostwriter working for you, you should never let your audience think you wrote content that you didn’t.

Citing or Referencing Images

The best way to cite an image is to make it a clickable link that redirects back to the original URL. If this isn’t possible or you would rather use a different method, simply cite the image owner in a caption beneath the image.

Citing or Referencing Videos

If the video comes from YouTube, Daily Motion or Vimeo, it will already give a direct link back to the original owner. However, it is seen as good practice to mention the video owner in your written content. This can be their social media username. A simple “video thanks to” followed with a hyperlinked username is sufficient.

Taking Down Content on Request

The majority of websites create content to be shared and referenced. After all, these shares and references linking back to them help build their site authority and SEO efforts.

But some sites are incredibly protective of their content. If you receive a request from a content provider asking you to remove content you have used, you should oblige.

You wouldn’t like it if someone posted a photo of you that you didn’t want shared and then refused to take it down. Respect the original content creators guidelines. Failure to do so could lead to your reputation being ruined online.