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Top 5 Best Practices for Content Attribution Etiquette

Posted by Timothy Lorang on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 @ 12:01 AM

I recently did a creative project for a non-profit that was posted on their website. Through the years I have often worked as a “gun for hire” and understand that sometimes you do work and should only expect a paycheck. However in many creative fields, such as photography, art or video attributions along with a fee are often common for anything that is not purely a commercial product. In other words if I made a commercial for a client I would not expect a credit but if I made a documentary then I would often get a credit. For this particular project I was paid for expenses and about ¾ of the cost of the project was donated to the nonprofit.

Getting credit is nice. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy but in the online world proper credit and attribution can be vitally important to your inbound marketing efforts, link building and SEO. It may seem obvious why the contributor wants the credit and attribution. They get publicity for their work and a link back to their website builds their linking SEO and can drive web traffic back. But why would the posting website care about giving credit and attribution? When you use a photo from Creative Commons, post a guest blog to your website or post a speaker profile to your site’s event page why should you care if you give proper online credit or attribution? The obvious answer is it is just the polite thing to do but it will also help you in the long run. Here are my top five attribution etiquette tips on what you should do and why you should do it.

  1. Use the Contributor’s Name: In How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie said, “Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” We all like to be acknowledged by name for what we do and a sincere thank you is appreciated. This will make the contributor more likely to help you in the future. Do this even for the people you do not know. For example if you use a photograph from Creative Commons give the photographer the photo credit, even if you do not have to.
  2. Name the Contributor’s Organization or Website: Many of the creative people on line may be working for another organization or trying to promote their own business. Mentioning this online will help them but it will also legitimize your content. It is one thing to say that the blog post was by Bob Smith, it’s another thing to say Bob Smith is the Chief Technology Officer for Acme Industries. This attribution lends authority to your content.
  3. Link to Webpage: Linking to the contributor’s web page not only helps the contributor’s link authority and increase their SEO and web traffic it helps your website’s link authority, SEO and web traffic. Search engines not only look at a website’s incoming links but at outgoing links and page authority as well. Is your webpage relevant and linking to good content? That is why it is important to use proper anchor text when building your outgoing links. For more indepth infromation about ancor text check out my friend Wendy Dressler's blog, Outreachmama, and her in-depth Anchor Text Guide for 2017.  (See what I did there?)
  4. Promote the Contribution: After the content is on your website promote it in your social media platforms and be sure to tag the contributor and their organization. This not only increases the reach of your post or tweet to their followers it is a big, public thank you and it will encourage the contributor to share and promote your content.
  5. Notify the Contributor: Drop the contributor a note and personally thank them. Let them know where the content is posted and give them the linking URL. This will encourage them to put a link on their website to the content and increase your inbound links. It will also encourage them to share the content and your website in their social media channels.

Giving proper attribution is not only good etiquette it is good online promotion. It will help promote your content through link building, SEO and social media and it increases that intangible online MOJO JUICE. When you promote others they will promote you. You should always give propter attribution when you use someone else’s photos or artwork; you quote them or use an excerpts from their blog or website; they have contributed content to your website such as a blog or a video; they are participating in an event you are sponsoring such as a conference, workshop or webinar; you are linking or mentioning a resource they own.

Have you ever had an experience where you felt you were not given proper attribution? How did you feel? How about when you were given proper attribution? What other things can you do to help others when you use their work?

Illustration Credits:
Victorian Couple: Openclipart - Moini
Hand: Openclipart - liftarn
Background Pattern: Photoshop-stock

Topics: Online Marketing, SEO