How Google Wants You to Cite Sources

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When it comes to citing sources in your web content, there has always been a few different schools of thought. Some people meticulously cite every quote and source in proper MLA format like they are trying to get an A in English Comp 101. Some people throw in a quick link somewhere in the article and call it a day. Finally, some other people eschew sourcing all together and just steal information and content from others because the internet has a very liberal idea about ownership. Some techniques will get you penalized and others will see you rewarded. Wikimotive is here to make sure you make the right decision for your SEO and your audience.


According to Matt Cutts’ latest webmaster video, Google does have a preferred method of citation, but it’s not as stringent as you might think. Apparently, all that Google needs to be happy is a link to the source somewhere in the body of the piece. It can be in the first paragraph, the last, or anywhere in between, it just needs to be there. You should cite your source every time you bring in new data of course, but try and keep the total count low. One or two sources per post is probably your best bet. If you start ballooning your citations you run the risk of muddling the SEO benefit of your work. You are better off playing it safe and using more original thought and less sourcing.

So that’s what Google wants, but that wasn’t the end of Matt’s video…


Matt gives us some additional guidelines that he advises us to follow, not because they will affect your ranking, but because they make you you a better citizen of the web. According to Matt, you should put the citation link as close to the top as possible. For example, in this post, we put the link to his video in the same line as we introduced it. This makes the link a lot more useful than when it is tucked away at the bottom of the post. It may not affect your SEO, but your readers will appreciate it, and if your readers aren’t your primary concern, you’re doing something wrong.


Listen, it’s a terrible idea to not cite. Not only is it tantamount to plagiarism, it’s also looked upon poorly by Google. If they see blog after blog with only links to your own stuff, they essentially assume you are selfish (you are) and suddenly you’ll find your blog lacking in power. If you do cite sources, even just one external link per post, Google sees that you are an upstanding citizen of the web and rewards you accordingly. Your audience is happier, your SEO is happier, and you get to sleep with a clean conscience.


The original post can be found on Wikimotive’s blog titled “How Google Wants You to Cite Sources.”

Tim Martell

Timothy Martell is a digital marketing and SEO expert regularly sought out by both media and industry leaders for his opinion on social media marketing campaigns that really work. Timothy has been seen on MSNBC and Dateline, has been interviewed twice by Facebook for his successful dealership advertising campaigns, has been a featured speaker at automotive conferences such as, DMSC, AMBC, and the Driving Sales Executive Summit and has been featured on the cover of AutoSuccess magazine. Timothy is known for pushing the boundaries of conventional automotive thinking and producing social media campaigns that generate massive numbers of followers leading to record ROI.

8 thoughts on “How Google Wants You to Cite Sources

  1. Agree, it is only courteous to cite the document that created the content initially. You would do this in a written report or document, so it is good practice to take the same approach online.

  2. Dear all, I am a student at Tilburg University (The Netherlands) and I am studying company blogs for my Master thesis. What makes a blog appealing to you? Share your opinion via and help me graduate. Completing the questionnaire takes about 10 minutes. Thank you very much for your cooperation. Kind regards, Dionne Dullens

  3. Good information. In writing papers in seminary we used the Purdue OWL APA Style Citation format. This is much simply, but I would say most bloggers don’t even bother. We should give credit where credit is due; it is only right.

  4. What is the protocol about comments? Who gets the credits for a comment, the blogger, the commenter, neither, or both?

  5. What is the protocol about comments? Who gets credited for a comment, the blogger, the commenter, neither, or both?

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