Before I start, the image on the left of a copyright symbol is, itself, subject to copyright rules. Yup, I paid a couple of quid to use it here.
The other day I stumbled across an example of another SEO service provider that had copied my content and published it on their website as though it were their own. They shall remain nameless. However, anybody who knows anything about SEO can find out if they want to from the images below! 🙂 There are lots of free and paid tools, like plagiarism checkers, and other techniques you can use to try and detect instances where your content has been reproduced without your permission. But the way I found this one was rather unusual and made me laugh. I was looking through a list of all AdJuice’s back links using one of my favourite link checking tools and came across one that caught my eye. I visited the linking website to see where and why they had included a link to this website. It turned out that they had copied the majority of my 100% original (but no longer unique!) content on our page describing our organic SEO services and simply published it as their own. The funny thing was that they had not removed the link from within my content to our other page about SEO specialists!
Hey you guys and anybody else out there that might copy content straight from this website, please leave all the links in! We at least get some credit that way for spending all those long hours creating our own 100% original content! One of the golden rules on the internet for using other people’s content for your own purposes is that you should retain all existing links in the content and/or add your own link to the original source so that all visitors, humans and search engines, can readily identify the original author.
Plagiarism – Example 1 (click image for bigger picture)
This is the one where no attempt has been made by the plagiarist to disguise the copying of my content. I don’t really understand why anyone would prefer to copy my content rather than create their own. It’s not as though it’s a masterpiece or some kind of authoritative document. It’s not that difficult to create your own either. Although that does pre-suppose you have a good grasp of the subject you’re writing about. Mmmm … now there’s a thought. I guess it might be nothing more than laziness on the part of some. Or possibly an inability to write. But if that’s the case, they shouldn’t be meddling with SEO because SEO is not for the lazy and not for the illiterate. And there are big issues about trust on the internet so it’s best to play by the rules or not play at all if you want to be taken seriously
Plagiarism – Example 2 (click image for bigger picture)
In this example, the publisher has made a weak attempt to disguise this content as their own. They have substituted a few synonyms, changed some of the headings, changed the order of the headings and so on but the original source is unmistakeable since there are some whole sentences that are an exact match for mine, including punctuation.
Ways to Detect Plagiarism
There are probably many techniques but here are four good ones.
1. Plagiarism checkers
There are a variety of paid and free plagiarism checkers, the best known of which is probably Copyscape. However, when I entered the url of our organic SEO services page, Copyscape couldn’t find any copies. I then tried this free plagiarism checker and it came up with a couple of cases. If copyright protection is high on your agenda, then I guess you would need to review a few thoroughly. I don’t have enough experience of them to recommend any. I found the one I used in this list of plagiarism checkers on Sarah Lam’s blog.
2. Check your back links
If the back links in your content have been preserved i.e. still contain links to your website / original content, then you may trace the copies via your back links. Depending on whether you allow your content to be reproduced, you might be happy with these kinds of copies or still left snarling.
3. Google search
Just copy a reasonably long string of text from your content and paste it into Google’s search box. The text you copy only needs to be sufficiently long for you to be pretty sure that it should be unique on the internet. Firstly, try searching with the text in quotes “like this”. If there are any other instances of that text in Google’s index, you’ll find them in the search results. These results will only show cases where there is one or more exact matches for your search query so this is the quickest and surest way of finding exact copies. This would have revealed the case in my first example above. It may not have revealed the second example. That would depend on whether I had selected a piece of text that had been left untouched in the copied version or whether it had been altered. Then try repeating the search without any quotes. This may provide instances that are not revealed in the first test but it may also produce lots of other web pages that do not include copies of your content so sifting through them might be fruitful or pointless. You won’t find out until you carry out the search.
Be aware that Google will sometimes not display all the results where there are many web pages with the same content so you need to know how to spot this and also how to get all the results displayed. You’ll the idea from the two screenshots below which you can click on to get bigger images.
In this example, I copied and pasted into Google’s search box a string of text from item 5. under the “Core SEO Services” section on our main page about “Organic SEO Services”.
Doooohhhh! I said they would remain nameless but I’ve just gone and let the cat out of the bag. Well I reckoned, since you’ve taken the trouble to read this far, then I owe it to you to satisfy your curiosity! Remember if you go check these sites out, they may have changed their content by the time you get there. Or should have.
4. Plant a trap in your content
I would not have known about this method had I not, some time ago, stumbled across and remembered Ian Lurie’s humorous blog post “Stop Plagiarism in 3 Easy Steps”. Ian shows you how to have a bit of sport and turn those snarls into sniggers.
What Constitutes Plagiarised Content?
We all gain inspiration from the talents and work of others so how close to the original does a copy have to be in order to be labelled as a copy or plagiarised version? I don’t know the answer to that. In the case of an exact copy of all or part of your text, then it’s straightforward. But if the plagiarist goes to great trouble to modify your content, does it ever become their own? How far do they need to modify it in order to establish a claim as the original author? I’d need to consult a lawyer to get an answer on legal rights but for my own purposes, if I read it and recognise it immediately as an exact copy or even weakly disguised derivative of my content, then it is a plagiarised copy.
Why Does it Matter?
It may matter to you. It may not. In the two examples above, it is unlikely to have a detrimental financial impact on AdJuice so the consequences are not severe and amount to little more than irritation. However, if I invest time and effort in creating something, then that is a real investment so why should somebody else use it for free without my permission? If I were asked then, in most cases, I would agree to my content being reproduced elsewhere, provided that there is a link from within that content back to this website. If my content is copied and stripped of its links, then that reflects really badly on the plagiarist. I would far rather spend my time creating the next piece than looking over my shoulder to see who ripped off the last.
Other Ways to Protect Your Content
1. Link to your content from other web pages and sources
The more you can establish links from other sites to your content, the more you are likely to establish your content as the original source, for search engine purposes, over and above copies of it.
2. Google Authorship
Implement Google’s advice on authorship to increase the chances of being crediting as the originator. This may also mean that details such as your photo could appear in Google’s search results alongside the summary of your content.
Need help or advice about content creation and marketing to increase the chances of your content being found at the top of Google? If so, then please get in touch using any of the options on our contact page. Alternatively, please visit our home page for an overview of our SEO services.