Using Creative Commons Licenses for SEO

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

I’m a strong believer in alternative licensing mechanisms for digital works. In particular, I try to use material licensed under Creative Commons wherever possible. Full Disclosure: I volunteered and worked for Creative Commons organizations in the UK and Canada during my formative legal years. Without wading into the legal details of Creative Commons licenses, I’ve come to appreciate a much more pragmatic use: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

CC Attribution Licence

All Creative Commons licenses require Attribution as a minimal requirement. This means that if you use someone’s work (whether audio, video, text, or images), you’ll need to credit them. Typically, this means something to the effect of “Photo credit to JeremyHL, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike Canada 2.5.” If you’re using the work online, you’ll then add a link to the license terms. As part of attributing the work, you should also include a link back to the author wherever possible. For example, Vancouver small business lawyers can use attribution licenses when they can’t afford top-of-the-line images from Getty.

Through these link-backs, you’re being compensated for your work. Depending on your sources of income, high organic search rankings may prove much more lucrative than trying to license your work commercially. We often consult on SEO strategies. One such strategy is to create something of value (pretty/useful/clever/functional) and license it under Creative Commons.

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