Content Plagiarism: Does It Affect Your SEO and How To Avoid It

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Did you know that, in certain instances, plagiarism can be considered a crime? People may think that it’s not a big deal to copy someone’s text without permission. But in fact, it is a fineable crime and you may face copyright issues.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to taking credit for the work of other content producers. The University of Oxford describes “plagiarism” as follows:

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgment. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional.”

Plagiarized content may also affect your SEO. Users may report you, which can be dire for your website and SEO. Plagiarized content can also be detected by site crawlers and bots.

How does online plagiarism work? Often, plagiarists pick small chunks of articles from different websites and combine them to create a new one.

They construct blogs and home pages out of those chunks and use them as if they were their own. Duplicate content is not a negative ranking factor, so plagiarists might think they’re getting away with it.

But what many don’t know is that plagiarized or duplicate content prevents your site from getting crawled and indexed by Google correctly. And if it isn’t being crawled and indexed, it isn’t ranking.

Good SEO relies on bringing new, valuable content to your website. Ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) can only happen when you’re working with original content.

Effects of Plagiarized Content

If any of the content on your website has been copied from other sites, it’s important to keep these facts in mind:

  • Plagiarism affects the quality of content
  • Google won’t rank plagiarized content
  • Search engines are smart

1. Plagiarism Affects the Quality of Content

What happens fairly often in the online realm is that the content you try to copy or paraphrase is, in fact, already a copy of high-ranking content itself. Many online articles have been copied from somewhere else and are already paraphrased or rephrased. 

This, understandably, results in a change in the meaning of the content. For example, one word may be changed into what appears to be a synonym. But this may inadvertently change the meaning of the content completely because not all synonyms can be used in the same context.

This will not only affect your site’s rankings but will also impact the reputation of your site. Rather stick to original content that requires research and understanding first.

2. Google Won’t Rank Plagiarized Content

Back in the day, users could upload duplicated content stuffed with keywords to get traffic. But since search engines have updated and refined their algorithms – and continued to do so regularly – this is no longer the case.

People are trying different techniques to stay on the first page. But the technique of using others’ work to increase your traffic and rank on SERPs has ended. It may result in heavy penalties, so it pays not to steal.

3. Search Engines Are Smart

Nowadays, when a person tries to add plagiarized data to any website, search engines are aware of it. They also know where it was first published, who published it for the first time and even the time and date of publication.

This technique helps them in determining the best version of each piece of content. If the content first appeared on a high-ranking, high-authority website, search engines will crawl that version and ignore yours.

Perhaps your content was produced by someone else for your website, and you don’t know whether it is plagiarized or not. In this case, you can run content through a plagiarism checker.

There are several plagiarism checkers online, and you need to find the best one for an accurate result. 

Here are some of the best plagiarism checkers used by most content writers: 

  • Pre Post SEO – best to detect word-for-word and paraphrased content
  • Editpad – completely free, no sign-up required, accurate results
  • Copyscape – a premium plagiarism checker

How To Avoid It

Paraphrasing Content

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to paraphrase and rewrite the thoughts and ideas you want to convey. This technique is highly reliable and useful for content writing and SEO strategies.

Set aside the necessary time that will enable you to produce content from scratch. Work within a limited timeframe, and you might find yourself tempted to copy content directly. Quality takes time.

An online paraphraser is the best way of paraphrasing, second only to manual paraphrasing. 

Online tools are highly effective as they automatically find the best synonyms for your text and maintain the actual intent behind the content. 

Moreover, they are simple to use – you just need to enter the text.

Citation/References

You can also avoid plagiarism by using proper citations and references. Complete and correct citations allow you to give credit to the writer. When credit is given, copied content may be more acceptable.

citations references

You can add quotes to your content to be safe, too. This is also a form of citing someone’s work and will be treated as a credit.

Conclusion

A proper way to avoid plagiarism is to proofread and check your content diligently. Also, with so much content available online, it is possible to plagiarize work unintentionally. Get in the habit of using a tool to double-check that your content is original, just to be safe. And if any of your content comes up as plagiarism, remember you can either delete it, cite it or paraphrase it. 

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