Plagiarism and SEO: why it matters

The uniqueness of your content is highly significant for your website’s SEO performance. Content duplication can have some adverse from an SEO perspective as well.

Copying someone else’s content and publishing on your website is unethical. Such practices lead to plagiarism.

Google thrives for unique, original content. So, your website’s ranking on the search engine will be heavily dependent on your content’s exclusivity.

Therefore, you should be focusing on your website’s content, making sure it is original, unique, and free from any kind of plagiarism.

Does plagiarism affect SEO?

Yes. Plagiarism is the practice of using someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. It is like copying without attributing the original author. And Google doesn’t like duplicated content.

Search engines like to filter out duplicate content. This is why you will never see two or more of the same results on the search engine result pages. Search engines want to offer users unique content. And thus, duplicated or plagiarized content does not make the cut.

Duplicate content is that one that appears in more than one place on the internet. That one place in the definition is the location of the original content.

However, if the same content appears on multiple websites, then you have duplicate content at your hands.

Duplicating content without attributing the rightful owners is a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism is unethical and can have adverse effects on your website.

Duplicating content will not technically give your website a penalty; however, it will impact your website’s ranking in the search results.

This is because Google will see multiple versions of the same content in different locations when searching.

This makes it difficult for the search engines to determine which version to showcase to the query searched.

Search engines face these three issues due to duplicate content:

  1. Which version to add or remove from indexes?

  2. Should they direct the link to one page or separate it between multiple versions?

  3. Which version to rank for the search query?

Site owners also face a couple of issues due to content duplication

  1. Lose search visibility, suffer in rankings, and lose website traffic.

  2. Since search engines will rarely display different versions of the same content, the algorithm is forced to choose the one which offers the most value. This way, the search visibility of each duplicate version falls.

Also, copying content affects not just your website but also the original website as well. Since the search engine fails to recognize which website is offering the original content, either of the websites’ SEO is affected.

Therefore, when it comes to SEO, there is a need for unique and plagiarism-free content.

Google Panda Algorithm Update

Google released an algorithm named Panda update back in 2011. This update aimed at rewarding high-quality websites and reducing low-quality websites on its search engine result pages.

One of the many aspects that the Panda update focused on was eliminating websites with duplicate content.

Google’s Panda update targeted websites that featured multiple pages with the same content with little to no change. For example, a laundromat might create five different pages with similar content for its various branches. One of the pages displays “Wash your clothes for cheap in Boston,” while the other shows, “Wash your clothes for cheap in Texas.” This type of content does not work in terms of SEO.

There was a heavy focus on offering high-quality to users. This resulted in websites with duplicate content to take a hit. Google wanted to provide content with value to its users. Therefore, the panda update saw websites with the identical content drop in rankings significantly.

Search Engines the unique content.

From the SEO perspective, search engines thrive to offer unique content to its users. The uniqueness of the content depends on how valuable it is to the user.

Copied over content does not carry any value and also devalues the original content.

It does not matter if your website contains three lines of content or forty. If your content offers a unique benefit, search engines and users will love it.

Plagiarizing your own content or from other sources can land you trouble. So, refrain from this activity. Moz explains that copying from internal or external sources isn’t a good idea. Google ignores minor duplication of the content of your own website. However, if it is in more massive amounts, you should be using SEO tactics like the canonical tag.

The canonical tag tells the search engine which URL is the parent copy and which are child URLs. This prevents the search engine from creating problems due to web pages with similar content.

Also, you might often use blocks of text or a picture from different websites on your website. If you aren’t attributing it correctly, then it accounts for plagiarism. But if you mention the right sources and provide a unique value to the content, it is not duplicative content.

Search engines are striving to provide their users with content that offers unique value. You might take someone else’s content and change it to make it sound like your own. This might not sound duplicative; however, you are not providing unique value. So, search engines prefer websites over yours that offer content with unique value.

How to keep your content unique

There is a need for unique content to feed the user’s search intent. Here’s an example of how to keep your content unique and plagiarism-free:

Let’s look at Tom. Tom wants to book a hotel in Las Vegas. Though his search’s main intention will be to find a hotel, he will have other purposes related to his stay. These other intentions can include whether the hotel has a pool, places to visit nearby, weather when he visits, etc.

If you are a hospitality website, you could just be satisfying his search intent for a hotel by providing him the relevant details. You might be tempted to copy your competitors. But your content have little value if it is too similar to the one on other websites.

Your unique proposition will be to offer Tom details like the weather when he visits, the various amenities your hotel provides, the “best places to visit” blog, etc. This unique content will help your website trump others.

In simple terms, if your content isn’t uniquely valuable, search engines will make it hard for you to rank higher. If your content is identical to other websites, then Google won’t bother ranking you higher than others!

You can make your content unique by offering your users what other websites aren’t. You can also control the amount of duplicate content on your website through various online tools and plagiarism checkers.

If someone else copies your content, then your website is affected too. Therefore, there are tools to recognize such content theft and improve your SEO performance.

Make use of SEO techniques like canonical tags and robots.txt to control duplicate content on your own website.

What did you learn?

Search engines do not like low-quality, copied-over content. In their hunt to improve the search results, websites with plagiarized content will see a drop in rankings.

You need unique content that offers value to improve your website’s SEO performance.

Offer something which others don’t. Do not skimp down on quality either. High-quality, unique content is the way to climb up the ranks on search engine result pages.