Including quotes and content from other articles in your blog posts is often a great idea. By pulling in ideas and commentary from other people, you can effectively raise the level of credibility of your own post. You’re essentially saying, “this post isn’t just my opinion and here’s what other experts have to say.” But how much is too much?
On one of my other blog posts, reader Tina Davidson asked, “I just started a blog in September to help people optimize their brain health. I want to include the latest medical research and I find myself quoting the experts to validate the points I am trying to make. I link to the sites where I find information. I need to include information that is not my opinion. I am not a doctor, yet I have done research on the topic. What is the standard protocol for “duplicate content” in such a case that won’t penalize my blog with search engines?“
That’s a great question Tina. When it comes to “duplicate” content what search engines are looking for are entire or significant portions of pages copied and pasted. If you’re publishing a post that includes quotes from four different sources, than you would have a maximum of 25% duplication from one source and therefore it would be fine, as an example.
According to Google, duplicate content is defined as, “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” So certainly using too much quoted text from an external source might qualify as duplicate under Google’s definition. There are also copyright issues which must be taken into consideration.
Here, in no particular order, are some recommendations and best practices:
Cite Your Source
Always cite your sources when quoting an individual or article. That link to the original material is key for several reasons. It allows readers and search engines to see that you aren’t deliberately copying material or trying to represent it as your own. It also ensures that your quote is in at least partial compliance with copyright requirements (more on that in a moment).
Often, it’s as simple as stating who or where the quoted text came from when it is introduced, and then linking that name to the article or individual, like I did above when quoting Google. I will often quote individuals whom I speak with on Google+ and I will link their name to their Google+ profile, unless I want to link to a specific post.
Include Your Voice
While your quotes may not be considered duplicate content if done correctly, they also aren’t unique. Make sure that you’re adding enough of your own “voice” to provide both value to readers and your own unique content.
Is there a rule for this? Not that I’ve found. What follows is completely my own opinion. You may feel free to disagree.
Avoid copying more than one paragraph per source. If you need extensive material from the source, you’ll increase your percentage of duplicate content on that page and also reduce the impact of the quote. The best, most impactful quotes are typically just one sentence or snippet!
But what if, like in Tina’s example, you’re deliberately including statistics or research to back up what you’re saying, and need more than a sentence or paragraph? My recommendation is to ensure that you have at least five times the amount of unique text and commentary as what you’re quoting. So if you’ve included a couple of paragraphs of text from someone else, make sure that you have offered at least 10 – 12 additional paragraphs of text that explain your position and why you’re sharing this information.
Check Usage Rights
One of the real issues with citing more than just a sentence or two is that you risk infringing on the copyright and usage restrictions of the source. Some sites forbid any duplication at all, while others may allow a certain limited amount of text. This is particularly true for highly specialized and researched sites like the ones you’re referring to, so check for requirements before quoting.
Most sites, particularly news sites, will allow citations and quotes of a sentence or paragraph as long as a link to the original source and article is included. Some may even specify that you need to include the Title and opening Teaser rather than a select bit of text. This is also important to understand for instances where perhaps you’re quoting other articles as part of a round-up or curation of content, rather than just to support a point you’re making.
If at any time you are unsure about how to proceed with a citation, take a moment to simply contact the author directly and ask them. I’ve often been contacted and asked if I mind if someone links to a post or quotes a post, and virtually every time I’ve happily agreed. I’ve even been asked if it was OK if someone took my article and translated it, and I was thrilled to grant that permission since they were going to be including a link back to the source and sharing my information with their own audience.
If you’re always working to provide value and rich information to your readers and make your writing better, you’ll be headed in the right direction.
Let me know if you have more questions.