Small businesses can avoid duplicate content issues by citing and linking to their sources.

Some of the most authoritative industry papers – on or offline – use citations and quotations to enhance their arguments and ideas. But would your website be punished for duplicate content if you quoted another site? Matt Cutts, Google’s distinguished engineer, recently confirmed that sites appropriately attributing quotes from other sites are unlikely to experience penalties for duplicate content.

Quoting other sites isn’t an issue, as content duplication typically deals with scraping articles or blog posts for the sole purpose of appearing to have relevant content on a site without making any effort to create something original.

News content marketing strategies often incorporate quotes from third parties, and it’s important for SMBs to know that attributing these quotes responsibly won’t cause them problems.

“You’re just a regular blogger, and you want to include an excerpt (from) some author you like or some other blogger who has a good insight,” Cutts said in a Webmaster Help video. “Just put that in a blockquote, include a link to the original source and you’re in pretty good shape. If that’s the sort of thing you’re doing, I would never worry about getting dinged for duplicate content.”

Using information from other sites to add value to content is a positive practice that adds value for users. Additionally, including links to the original publisher helps readers access more information on the topic and is generally a best practice for web content writers.

Conversely, straight copying and pasting content from any other site without proper attribution will result in penalties for duplicate content. Early Panda algorithm updates from Google focused on better detection of unoriginal content, and the company’s ability to penalize these practices only grows over time.

Earlier this year, Contentlead cited highlighted common content marketing mistakes that can lead to duplicate content penalties. Occasionally, these issues can be entirely accidental, such as problems with pagination or including printer-friendly versions of content. However, duplicate content penalties often stem from scraped content or other malicious practices that signal a low-quality site to Google.

SEOmoz outlined some of the changes to duplicate content detection and penalization in post-Panda blog post. As contributor Dr. Pete pointed out, penalties for duplicate content now lead to penalties for an entire site. Previously, they rarely impacted more than just the pages in question.