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3 min read

5 Steps to Sourcing Content to Improve Your Website, Blogs, and Videos

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All great ideas are made better when they are supported by other great ideas. This is especially true in inbound marketing, where we aim to spark conversations around our clients’ businesses. When we produce blog posts, we build on others’ successes and – ideally – we credit them with their brilliance, invite them to the discussion, and benefit when they share our thoughts, too.

Marketers are constantly looking for new ways to spark conversations. And properly sourcing content can be an important way to do this. Here are some steps you can take to source content that will make your post better.

STEP 1: Read.

Read widely and passionately. Make it part of your job. Ask others what they read, and then read that. Keep a running list of information sources: blogspodcasts, conferences, books, and forums. Educate yourself about your industry so that you know what others are saying, the key issues, and big questions.

STEP 2: Give credit when you share other’s ideas.

If you take an idea, give credit. You might think this doesn’t need to be said, but you’d be surprised. The rehashing of existing content for low-quality “content farms” was such a major problem that Google has created algorithm updates just to deter it.

How do you give proper credit? If the words were originally spoken by someone else, put them in quotes. If you cite research or statistics, reveal who did the original work. Link directly to the original study. If someone thought of it first, acknowledge it.

STEP 3: Link when you give credit.

Search engine marketing professionals have often disagreed about outbound linking strategies. Some have discouraged outbound linking at all because they don’t want to help drive web traffic to others’ sites. I disagree. As this classic Moz Whiteboard Friday explains, outbound linking to others’ sites is beneficial, with certain caveats:

  • Be strategic: Link only to reputable sources you respect
  • Choose your anchor text wisely
  • Make the new page open in a separate browser window
  • Consider the user’s experience

STEP 4: Let your sources know you’re linking to them.

If the people you’re linking to are paying attention to their analytics, they’ll see your link to their site. Don’t count on them to discover the referral on their own. Make it a practice to email the people you cite, or to connect on social media. Let them know that you thought their information was valuable and that you shared it on your website.

Ideally, they’ll be excited you thought of them. They might want to link to your content, or at least share your blog post on social media. You’ll get more eyes on your post, and you’ll help build community and dialogue around the things you’re saying.

STEP 5: Take it a step further.

When you’re thinking in terms of linking to others and communicating with them, the natural next step is to start thinking of others before you begin writing. Could a source for a blog post be an original interview with someone you respect? Or something offline that you heard – something that someone couldn’t find with just a Google search? How can you amplify the conversations you’re having offline by making them part of your online content strategy? That’s where the real value of blogging exists.

One final note

The things I’m talking about depend on real, human connections and can’t be faked. But that’s the reality of the content that’s getting to the top of the search engine results page in 2017. Google’s algorithms reward real content over content created to rank, and linking schemes that worked ten years ago will get you in trouble today. In other words, sourcing blogs to make them better really is worth the time and effort it takes.

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