A Simple Guide For Citing Sources

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In SEO terms it’s called “anchor text,” but for many people it is a simple question “How do I link to an outside source?”

As shown on this excellent blog by the Hoth, the way you use links matters to search engines. If you only link to the keyword you are trying to rank for, your post or page may be penalized for “keyword stuffing” (more on that here) by Google and other search engines.

While those posts help you understand a little about links, I want to offer the following observations about citing for business and personal blogs and websites.

  1. Academic – The APA citation style is the most commonly used academic system. Owl at Purdue has the best resources for understanding APA, MLA, and other academic writing. Seriously. If you want to learn more about academic citation, go spend a few hours over there.
  2. Average Web Content – I know this isn’t very technical or jargony-sounding, but average web content covers pretty much everything you will write online. For general content, you can cite your source in one of three ways: you can use a parenthetical aside (e.g. here is a random post on floating caskets), you can use an in-text link to a relevant article, like I have done multiple times in this post, and you can use the name of your source, set apart by commas, like telling you I found a great SEO article by Addicott Web.
  3. Technical Whitepapers – Writing more technical whitepapers is a great way to repurpose content for business professionals. For whitepapers, links inside the text of the page can be distracting and frustrating since they will often be turned into PDFs and printed off. For flyers, whitepapers, or other products that can be used both online and offline, I always cite the naked URL so that customers can copy/paste or type in the address manually if needed. When you include the full URL link, always remember to remove the UTM parameters (Check out Niel Patel’s blog for more on those).

That’s it! There are three main types of writing an online content creator needs to consider citing sources in, and of those three, the average web content has incredible flexibility depending on your preference and your target market.

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