No to plagiarism! Keep your reader and search engines happy

No to plagiarism! Keep your reader and search engines happy

Blogging has become one of the most significant elements in the digital marketing toolkit, and there are many reasons why it has come to play such a vital role in expanding your reach on the web. There are essentially two main types of blogs: personal and business. Ultimately, the purpose of both of these blogs is to reach the 3.1 billion individuals who have access to the internet.  A whopping 92% of companies that update their blogs multiple times per day reported to HubSpot that they have acquired a customer from their blog. And according to this study by BlogHer, 81% of the American online population trust the information and advice they receive from blogs. If blogging has such a significant impact, then it’s no great leap to conclude that the content of blog posts also matters a lot. To determine the quality of blog content, we recommend that both the writers and readers of blogs scrutinize posts and ask themselves, “is this original or is some, or all, of the content plagiarized?”

Why check your work for plagiarism?

You may be asking yourself why it even matters if content is original or plagiarized and thinking, “so what if I use an obscure fact, an interesting stat, or a clever idea I saw on a random website to make a point in one of my blog posts. That’s no big deal!” Well, actually, it is. Readers trust bloggers and the content they produce, they rely on it to help them resolve problems and find useful products and services, they become invested in the blogs and bloggers they follow. If you start churning out content on either a personal or business blog that has been “borrowed” from another source, don’t be surprised when reader trust starts to evaporate. And, if you have monetized your personal blog or you operate a corporate blog, lower levels of trust can really undermine your bottom line. After all, if your readers can’t trust you, why would they take your advice and recommendations seriously???

If maintaining the trust of your readers isn’t a good enough reason to make sure that your content is original and you’ve cited all your sources, perhaps you will want to put in some extra effort to ensure the appeasement of our search engine overlords. Google, and all other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing, places a premium on original content that offers value to readers. Your content is only really offering something useful to readers if you’re saying something that hasn’t been said before. This is not to say that you can’t blog about the same topics as other people, but you need to make sure that your ideas and words are your own, and when they aren’t, make sure to give credit where credit is due. The all-mighty Google will be sure to reward you with higher rankings.

What does plagiarism or copied content mean?

Plagiarism includes such things as copying someone’s work or stealing another person’s unique thoughts. However, a term like “copying” can mask the reality of the offense. Fundamentally, plagiarism means:

  • To use others’ work, ideas and/or thoughts without obtaining his or her permission
  • To present ideas or work that were produced by another source as new and unique

Always check out the copyright statements on websites containing material you are interested in sharing with your readers in a blog post. Many sites provide clear instructions about what can and can’t be used and how to make sure you are crediting them appropriately. And what if they don’t seem to have clear guidelines? All you have to do is ask! Most fellow bloggers or companies will be happy to help you out – especially if it means getting a shout out and/or a link to their site from your post. Your readers and your fellow content creators will appreciate you taking the time to properly cite all of your sources. You wouldn’t want somebody to use your words and ideas and pass them off as their own. No, you’d, naturally, want your contribution to be recognized just like anybody else.

The plagiarism rationale

The problem of plagiarism is as at least as old as the written word. And, surely, the invention of the internet has done nothing to alleviate it. More than a decade ago, Education Week was reporting that 54% of students copied content from the web to complete their homework. And a quick Google search today reveals no shortage of cheating scandals in academia, the news media, and the music industry, just to name a few. Given the feeling of anonymity that the web provides, numerous individuals feel that the probability that they will be caught plagiarizing is negligible at best. Some even believe that whatever is discovered online is in the public domain, that it’s fair game. The ignorance surrounding what plagiarism is and why it should be avoided means that there are far too many writers who are able to justify copying text and other content that they stumble across online.

What is content curation then?

You may be wondering, if copying someone’s work or ideas is plagiarism, then is content curation also plagiarism? The answer, so long as content curation is being done correctly, is no. Content curation is a process in which information and content is collected, organized and displayed according to a particular topic or theme. On the web, this can be automated using various tools and parameters such as collaborative filtering, semantic analysis and social rating. After putting these processes to work the refined copy is collected and that copy is called curated copy. The sources of content in a curated collection are always fully acknowledged. Content curation is purely a structured way of collecting, organizing and displaying information. Pinterest is a great example of online content curation. By pinning a recipe, an article from a pop culture site, or just about anything else you find on the web to one of your boards you are acting as a content curator.

Tools to use to check the originality of content

If you are a personal blog or business blog owner, you need to be able to vet your content before it’s posted to make sure it’s an original work – this is especially important when you use guest bloggers or if your blog has multiple authors. We know Google frowns upon copied content, so if your content appears on any other site, it will definitely affect your search ranking; and if viewers discover your content has been stolen from another site, they aren’t likely to visit your blog again. Therefore, it’s vital that you only publish the copy of your blog after checking your content’s originality. Fortunately, there are a number of tools one can use to check the originality of text such as SmallSeoTools.com, Grammarly.com, Copyscape.com, and Unplag.com. These tools make the process relatively simple. For most, all you need to do is upload your text where indicated and the tool will check the text in a matter of seconds and tell you whether there is any copied content. Since plagiarism checking tools are automated, it is best to check over the report they generate for you in order to determine how much plagiarism exists in your blog post and where you need to make changes.

Blogger Outreach Service and Plagiarism

Today, businesses and PR professionals are seeking out blogger outreach services to help build brand recognition and put their products and services in front of their target market. It is necessary for them to make sure that the blogger outreach service provider takes plagiarism seriously. And it is always good practice to double check all content marketing you’re commissioning to ensure that the content is unique.

Last but not the least, the responsibility for guaranteeing that content is original ultimately rests on the shoulders of content writers. High-quality, fresh and unique content will help you build and retain a loyal following, receive more marketing pitches from businesses and solidify your integrity and credibility as a writer in the blogosphere.

About Marc Duquette

Marc Duquette
Marc Duquette is a web entrepreneur with a core skillset in advertising, SaaS and Influence marketing. He is particularly interested in the aggregation of large amounts of data to create value and make markets more efficient. He is experienced in both the business and technical aspects of running an internet startup, having successfully founded, run, and sold an online advertising network. Currently CEO at Blogdash.com, which provides the first tool made just for Blogger Outreach.