Facebook Pixel
Join our Facebook Community

Use External Links to Boost Your Credibility

Posted By Georgina Laidlaw 10th of September 2011 Writing Content 0 Comments

Bloggers are always happy to link to a resource we think is good, or a product or service with which we’re affiliated.

But there are other kinds of external links that too few bloggers use:

  • links to sources of information we’ve found
  • links to creators of content we’re citing
  • links to more detailed information on a topic we’re mentioning, but not covering in depth in a post.

Citing sources is a basic element of professional writing. As well as reflecting your professionalism, it:

  • helps build your authority on a topic
  • helps you to gain profile and respect by association with quality sources
  • actively helps readers to benefit from your content.

Above all, citing external sources of information boosts your credibility. By linking to a quality, reliable external source, you show that you proudly stand behind the information you give your readers. And what blogger doesn’t want to do that?

When should a blogger include a link as a sort of citation? Whenever you’re relating information that you’ve learned elsewhere. Let’s look at the most common types of statements that require external links to their original sources.

Referencing quotes

If you quote someone else, you should link to the place where they said the words you’ve included in your quote.

After the legal implications of quoting someone without citing the source of that quote, the main reason for referencing quotes is really a logical one.

If you’re quoting a person, it’s logical that your readers may be inspired or intrigued by that quote, so you’ll want to help them out by providing them with easy access to the complete story. Right? Right!

Referencing ideas or concepts

If you make mention of an idea or a concept that someone else has come up with, include a link to the relevant person’s material on that topic.

So, for example, if you wrote a post that mentions Darren’s approach to social media, which includes “home bases” and “outposts,” you’d want to include a link to the article in which he explains those concepts.

Links like this:

  • show readers that you care about providing them with all the information they need to get informed on the topics you write about
  • have the potential to send traffic to the authors you’ve learned from—and love
  • show readers that you’re fair and honest, and that you’re not trying to pass off others’ ideas as your own.

Referencing research

This is the most common issue I see with external links: many bloggers present opinion as fact, often without even realizing it. On the FeelGooder website that Darren runs, we get plenty of submissions that contain prefectly reasonable-sounding claims that, when the authors are asked to provide references to the research or studies they’ve mentioned, turn out to be false.

Many’s the time entire articles have fallen through because the central claim the author was making has turned out to be mere Internet confection. Recently, we removed a section from an article claiming that smiling releases endorphins in the brain because, try as we might, we couldn’t find any substantiation—research reports and so on—for this claim. Sure, it’s written on web pages from one end of the Internet to the other, but that’s not a reference: not one of them pointed to any research (or even mention any researchers) who have ever proven this link.

Don’t believe what you’ve heard as fact. If you’re including information in a post, make sure you cite its original sources.

What makes a good reference?

A good candidate for an external link for the information you’ve included in your post is:

  • original, where possible (so if you find an article that links to the original source, link to the original source first and foremost, and the referencing article if you need to as well)
  • reliable and well-regarded
  • independent (not backed by a business pushing a certain agenda)
  • high quality—a source that’s complete, comprehensive, and links to other sources if required
  • specialized (not a content aggregator or generalist “answers” web portal).

Of course, some sources of information are (gasp!) not online. It happens! What do you do in those cases? Add a footnote. A perfect footnote was given by author Angela Irvin in her FeelGooder post, Developing a Mindset for Social Good. And her readers appreciated it, too.

Angela wanted to cite an article from a print journal. No problem: she gave a standard academic reference so that if her readers were keen to see the research themselves, they could go to their library and check it out. Pretty handy!

How are your last few posts looking? Have you cited references and pointed your readers to more information wherever that’s sensible, logical, or required? I’d love to know your approach to external informational links and citations in the comments.

About Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks Georgina for sharing with us.I always link to creator of the content about which i m citing on my blog and also give my reader externals links for further info.

  2. Hi Georgina,
    You make a good point here. Many a time have a supplied a link to website with more information about a topic that I was trying to get across. I believe that it had something to do with removing negativity from our workspace.

    Instead of me trying to reword or rewrite their post it was simpler to just link to their site. I read also that smiling in front of a mirror for 20 minutes a day was supposed to help depression patients. Smiling is better than frowning but I am also not sure about that claim.

  3. This is a important part of writing online, or blogging. For a good Blogger is one that writes quality and isn’t afraid to share source from which he has used to help write. Good post and one which in my view is very important

  4. Georgina,

    Great points here. Too often external links are used for marketing purposes these days.

    -Nothing wrong with doing some of that-

    But I agree these links can really be used to back up and power your arguments. These links not only provide “proof” but can give depth and breadth to a post.

    Really what external links were designed to do.


  5. Yes, I agree. I try to reference what I’m talking about as much as possible, but not so much that it plagues my blog posting with links.

  6. cool. but make sure the external link that being used also has a high credibility

  7. I totally agree with citing references. Though I’ve gotten a little sloppier of late, I actually tended to add not just links, but a citation of author and title into my blog posts (GOD, I wish there was a tool that made this easy!).

    The payoff?

    When I wrote my book, Protecting Games, I could easily footnote all of my sources and verify if the information was still online. This was very helpful for establishing credibility with my readers online and off-.

    I totally agree with running data down! I’ve found a number of times that sources were simply repeating other sources who seemed to have pulled the number out of an orifice! You can sometimes find very interesting stories when you go on a “real fact” hunt – either numbers are fake or pulled out of context or, even better, a juicy fact got lost in the public rush.

  8. Writing a blog have to be ethically like writing a thesis. You should include those citing references to gain the attention of the readers which will show how credible is your ethic on writing.

  9. Nice post ! Well many of us try to give links out but because of the SEO factor sometime many dont. I think we should give credit to the originator.

  10. Mark Homer says: 09/10/2011 at 1:31 pm

    Very good post. Completely agree – we try to cite sources all the time on our blog. In addition to being the right thing to do, people I have cited have reached out and I have met some great thought leaders along the way.

  11. Hi Georgina,

    An excellent idea here.

    Using external links build credibility, confidence in your work and it’s also a nice karmic tip of the hat to someone who provided you with an idea, or facts.

    We tend to be inspired by posts like these, so why not link up, if you mention the article, or craft a post resonating with the idea? It’s win-win. You do a good deed, which is always repaid, and the other blogger gets a traffic boost.

    Non-selfish bloggers have no trouble linking externally to great content, and generous bloggers become popular bloggers.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!


  12. Phenomenal tips! I usually state where I get my information, but rarely to I place a link to the original article. This will definitely help me out in the long run. Thank you

  13. Thank you Georgina,

    I found this information very helpful. I’ve never made notes at the end of my posts but I will now. I always do link to other information that I find useful, I will start doing that even more. There is just so much wonderful information out there and to share it with the readers is a must.

  14. It does help, I am already putting this into practice by adding a reference line at the end of the article.

  15. I agree with the suggestions you laid out in this post. Many of my articles absolutely require linking to government websites and citation of print journals, which I present in the “article source” footnote. As webmasters and content providers we owe it to our readers to be accurate as well as honest, providing proper credit is the right thing to do.

  16. I wholeheartedly agree on this topic. Blogging about a topic should be accompanied with directions to a reliable and authoritative source. I have worked in nursing which is a different view and skill set from that of a doctor therefore I provide links that will also support my writing. Great topic! :)

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…