Will Quoting Or Referencing Another Website Be Viewed As Duplicating Content By The Search Engines?

Search and More’s view.

Once again this is a difficult question to answer definitively. On the face of it the correct answer should be no. However, this does need some clarification. At the end of the day it will depend on what value the content adds to the page and the context it’s used in. What does that mean? Well, simply this: if you quote a small snippet or subsection from another website, and you are using it as a reference which sits comfortably within original content written that you’ve written for your website, then Google will not class it as duplicate content.

However, if you include whole articles on your page with little or none of your own original content, then you will fall foul of Google’s rules.

You have to remember that Google is looking for added value and original content. It doesn’t want to list content that has been lifted from somewhere else. Referencing content and attributing it is fine; after all we all do this to some degree or other. But copying whole articles or duplicating large sections of text written by someone else is just not on. Put it this way, if you were sitting an exam you wouldn’t copy someone else’s work verbatim and then stick your own header and footer on, would you? But there’s no reason why you can’t reference work that other people have written and talk about it and give your own views.

Some tips:

  • Use a block quote and include a link to the original source.
  • Include unique and relevant copy to provide context to the quote.
  • Avoid quoting more than a few sentences at a time, unless these are direct quotes from a referenced and publicly quoted primary source. There is no exact number of words that defines duplicate content, but including more of your copy than the quoted text is as good a measure as you can get.
  • Don’t quote the entire article you reference. If you mention multiple parts of the original source article, then spread it out throughout your copy.

It’s a mistake to believe that quoting and referencing content from other web sources is a bad thing. It can add value to what you write and even help your search engine listings when executed properly. Linking to related content provides Google with more background and context about your own copy.

Google’s view.

Google’s take on quoting or referencing other people’s work supports our own thinking on this one. If you quote or reference other people’s work, there will be no duplicate content issues for Google, so long as you block quote the reference and include a link to the original source. If you lift whole articles or quote large parts of an article with attributing this, then Google will penalise you. What Google is looking for is for you to add your own unique perspective to the article and add extra value. If you can be seen to have done that, then you’ll be fine. If you can’t, then you’ll pay the price. For further clarification on this point have a look at this Google Webmaster Help video:

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