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Okay, so here is a question based on my old-school journalism training/knowledge versus my modern web developer knowledge.

Does using primary sources for a linked URL versus a secondary source have any impact on SEO?

For example, I write a blog post about a major event of some kind. It’s reported in The New York Times which is a high quality primary news source. But a quick Google search on this even shows tons of smaller blogs reporting the same event with details and quotes and a link to that article in the The New York Times.

If I were to post a new post on my blog on that same event, would my SEO suffer if I use a secondary source blog as the link versus the primary source article from The New York Times?

From a traditional journalism perspective, citing the primary source is the way to go. But from a modern blog/SEO perspective does that even matter? I assume not only is The New York Times better regarded as a source, but the chances of the reference link going dead are far less when compared to some random blog that might disappear at some point in the future.

  • Who you link to matters. Link to high or reasonably high quality sites only. Link to the highest quality site where there are options. – closetnoc Jan 6 '16 at 4:05
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It doesn't matter that much to your site if you link to a reasonably good quality blog versus the New York Times. But it may matter a lot to the blog you linked to!

Google addressed your specific issue in their Webmaster Central Blog back in 2008. It remains good advice:

Should I worry about the sites I choose to link to? What if their PageRank may be lower than mine?

If you're linking to content you believe your users will enjoy, then please don't worry about the site's perceived PageRank. As a webmaster, the things to be wary of regarding outbound links are listed above, such as losing credibility by linking to spammy sites. Otherwise, consider outbound links as a common sense way to provide more value to your users, not a complicated formula.

The only sorts of links that will really harm you are unnatural links, which are paid links without a nofollow tag, link schemes, and the like.


What I recommend you do is simply to link to the source you intend to cite. If you're quoting or referring to Times coverage of a story, then link to them. If you're quoting or referring to Jimbo's East Tennessee Politics and Shooting Blog, then linking to the Times is rather pointless; you should link to Jimbo. If you're referring to a Times story that you read about on Jimbo's blog, then you can link to the Times story and note that you read about it on Jimbo's blog (with a link).

  • Makes sense. Poor Jimbo! :/ – JakeGould Jan 7 '16 at 21:55
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    @JakeGould If Jimbo is something your readers should also be reading, I am sure you can find a way to work him in to your story. – Michael Hampton Jan 7 '16 at 22:04
  • I’ll be sure to add a Jimbo-based initiative to our action list. – JakeGould Jan 7 '16 at 22:06
  • @JakeGould By way of example, I was once quoted in this manner by USA TODAY. Unfortuntately they didn't do outbound links at that time, but I still picked up plenty of traffic just by having my blog named in the story. – Michael Hampton Jan 7 '16 at 22:11

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