In an earlier article I talked about the ethics of using attribution links to credit your sources, but it occurred to me that maybe I didn’t go into enough detail about when you should provide attribution.
Obviously, if you’re going to use someone’s entire blog post or their images, you’d want to avoid accusations of plagiarism and include an attribution link. But let’s take a look at some of the gray areas.
Would It Strengthen Your Position?
There are some niches where you absolutely need to back up your position. For example, if you’re blogging in the political niche or a medical or scientific niche, or if you’re blogging about History or Math, or any niche that’s fact- or research-based, your readers are going to want proof. Use a credible source to strengthen you position.
Now, maybe you’re taking a controversial stance. Nothing sells better than controversy but you have to do it right. You can’t just make a general statement that everyone else is wrong and you’re right. You have to back up both sides of the issue. You’ll have a much stronger argument if you can link to credible sources of information.
Most bloggers think you only have to credit your sources if you’re using a direct quote from the other source and in most cases that’s true.
However, if you’re simply rewording someone else’s original idea then you might slip under the plagiarism radar but you’re still stealing content. All it takes is for one of your readers to call you out on it and you’re toast.
When using someone else’s idea, I typically provide attribution and then continue on to give my readers my own take on the theory.
Again, the attribution link simply increases my credibility, and by giving my own viewpoint I’m making the idea relevant for my own audience.
There’s Never A “Wrong” Time To Credit Your Sources
Whether you’re using a direct quote or just an idea, it’s always a good idea to credit your sources, as long as you do it right.
In my earlier article I explained how to structure you content and your attribution link so your visitors will see your source, but they won’t follow that link and leave your blog. I also explained how those outbound links help your SEO.
As long as you’re setting it up properly, all you’re doing is providing more value for your readers and increasing your own authority and credibility. So yeah, go ahead and credit your sources all the time. Your readers will love you for it.