Online Plagiarism and The Importance of Original Content
One of the things that I find plagues the Internet is the sheer amount of plagiarized content that some web site developers think they can use to boost their search engine rankings.
I can tell you right now, they are dead wrong. In fact, nothing is more crippling to web sites than the inclusion of duplicate content (either on the same site or with other web sites). Using plagiarized content is unprofessional, unfair, criminal and downright stupid. It may seem like a great way to get some free content, however, the consequences of doing so can be extremely detrimental.
Once search engines begin to recognize that you have duplicate content, your ranking may drop substantially at best and your web site may be shut down at worst. So, what the "moral of the story", always place high quality original content on your web site.
Plagiarism - A Lot More Common Than You Might Think
One of the most memorable experiences that I had with plagiarism was when I was reviewing a test article from a potential writer. The resume checked out and the samples were solid so I gave them a test to see how they would respond to a time limit and make sure the writing in their samples matched the test. When I received the content, I did what I always do when I handle content for the company, checked it on multiple plagiarism checkers. I was shocked to see a 375 word match when the article was only 400 words long.
In addition, something about the matching content seemed very familiar to me. After double checking, I found that the article actually came from an old article directory that I submitted content to when I first began writing on the Internet. In fact, I discovered that, although my name was not on the article because I was ghost writing at the time, the article that the writer had plagiarized was actually mine. Obviously, the writer was informed of their foolish mistake and was not accepted to write for Content Customs.
Checking Content for Plagiarism
At Content Customs, every piece of content is checked for plagiarism both in our directory (to ensure that a writer has not copied work that they had previously completed but has not yet been published by the client) and against the pages on the Internet. One of our favorite plagiarism checkers is Copyscape. Searches are only 5 cents each and the limit of the amount of words you can check on each search is a nice 2,000. For a 10,000 word eBook, this means that you only have to break it into 5 sections to get accurate search results.
When I show people how Copyscape works, you can play a fun (but terribly revealing) game to show how big of a problem Internet plagiarism actually is. Search for your favorite topic on Wikipedia and copy and paste the first paragraph of the article into the Copyscape search field. You will immediately find that perhaps hundreds of pages that have copied just this paragraph and used it as their own will pop up. In fact, this is probably the only way you will ever see these web sites as they are likely buried on page 15 or 16 on Google search results.
If you are a writer, editor, writing manager or web site owner, Copyscape can be an essential and cheap tool for you to use to make sure your content is unique and you are not subject to any plagiarism claims or penalties. From the moment I started writing online until now, I have used Copyscape to protect myself, my writers and my clients from plagiarism.
From time to time, an innocent mistake happens where writers are nailed by plagiarism checkers for content that they created themselves. After all, the Internet is a large and ever expanding place. By making sure your content is always unique, you can make sure that you always fairly and proactively add to it.
To try Copyscape out for yourself, you can visit their web site at http://www.copyscape.com.
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