Why does plagiarism impact SEO?
When you’re a beginner at creating content for your business on a website or blog, it’s hard to know where to start. The internet has so much valuable information from credible sources around the globe. A lot of people start by researching examples of others who have been successful in that field. But if you aren’t careful, you might hurt your SEO and your credibility if you start plagiarizing content.
How plagiarism affects SEO
Plagiarism is using information from other sources without giving full credit to the original creator.
Plagiarism can look like a lot of things, especially on the web:
- Stealing full paragraphs or articles without attribution
- Stealing sentences or phrases and incorporating your own
- Stealing the framework of an article and rewriting it without changing the structure or content
- Stealing content you’ve already written and published without referencing the original
- Using direct quotes, but including no citation or links
- Using copyrighted images (even with attribution)
Chances are you had this drilled into you in school, but in the real world, it sometimes looks less black and white. In the world of SEO, though, it’s pretty straightforward.
Search engines crack down hard on websites with plagiarism. They can’t catch everything, but when they do they give priority to the original source of the content. In turn, they’ll lower the ranking of any copycat websites. In some cases, they may stop indexing the site altogether.
When your goal is to rank well in search results, this is bad news. No matter how “optimized” your content is, when it’s stolen it isn’t going to make it far. Any short-term gain that might come from plagiarism will lead to a long-term loss that’s hard to recover from.
Why plagiarism affects SEO
There are a couple of big reasons why search engines penalize websites with plagiarized content. SEO involves a lot of algorithms and bots, but the end goal is a good user experience.
Because plagiarized content creates barriers that prevent users from connecting with the message, it impacts SEO.
Plagiarism is wrong
We know that stealing is wrong, but sharing is good. This leads some people to justify plagiarism because they’re just sharing valuable information with their audience. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Whenever somebody writes anything, they inherently own the copyright to that thing. When an idea becomes something tangible – like writing, art, or music – it’s protected and belongs to the original creator. This means that using their work as your own is a copyright violation, on top of being ethically wrong.
But what if you find somebody who said it perfectly? That’s where attribution comes in! If you want to add somebody’s unique insight to your writing, use a direct quote and link back to the original source. This is going to boost their credibility and yours. It shows that you trust other industry experts and have done your research, and linking to other legit sites will increase your SEO.
Plagiarism confuses the reader
Imagine you’re searching for something specific, like “how to get tomato stains out of clothes” on Google. How would you react if the top ten answers were all identical? Chances are you would get a little suspicious. You’d probably wonder which source is the original, and which ones are the copycats. You might even ask if it’s too good to be true and second guess the information.
Now imagine that you’re searching for the same term, but the top ten results all vary a little bit. Most of them contain similar information, but each one is unique. As a user, you’re going to be more trusting of the information. And you’ll feel empowered because you’re able to make a choice instead of being stuck with only one answer.
This is why Google penalizes duplicate content. Users are going to click more links and trust the information they find when the top results are diverse. If they don’t have that option, they become confused and frustrated.
Plagiarism doesn’t create value
As a content creator, you probably have several goals. One of the most important goals a content creator can set is to provide value to their audience. If a potential customer or client doesn’t find something that adds value to their experience, they’ll go to other sources to find that value. This is why producing original content is so important.
The internet is oversaturated with content. If you want to compete and stand out, you need to be original. Figure out what makes your message unique, identify your strengths, and tailor it to the needs and values of your target audience. Take time to research your audience and the content they’re turning to. When your material looks and sounds exactly like everybody else, it’s going to blend in. But if you can understand what your audience is looking for, you can find the best way to deliver it to them.
Some people are concerned that if their content isn’t super similar to their competitors they’re going to fall short. But when your site is a combination of broad and niche content, you can rank well in search results across several keywords. Most importantly, the people who will deliver the highest returns will be able to find and interact with your content.
When your focus is on making original content that provides value to your target audience, you won’t even have to think about plagiarism. Instead, your full focus can be on creating valuable content.
Reach out to Highstreet Advertising today for more information about how we can help your improve your companies website, or help improve SEO results today.
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