Content marketing is more important than ever. The Content Marketing Institute found Plagiarism that 46% of B2B marketers are looking to increase spending on content in 2022. It’s becoming just as essential in B2B marketing as it has been in B2C marketing for years.
This creates incentives to make content creation more efficient wherever possible. Teams are hiring specific members of staff to create more content. They’re outsourcing the job to third parties like agencies and freelancers – 81% in 2020 compared to 53% in 2019. It can also incentivize people to cut corners.
This is where content plagiarism becomes a problem. As we’ll see, content plagiarism is something you should be concerned about whether you’re doing all your content marketing in-house or outsourcing to freelancers.
Content plagiarism is unethical and illegal. It’s not a victimless crime but an offense that can seriously hurt businesses that run plagiarized content. Search engines like Google have complex and powerful systems to penalize this behavior. And in some cases, businesses can run afoul of those systems even if their intentions are good.
What is content plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the unethical and illegal act of passing off somebody else’s creative work as your own. However, when we talk about content plagiarism we’re specifically talking about copying SEO web content like blog posts and articles.
This is done in an attempt to scale up content production without doing the work required. SEO growth content is, in part, a numbers game; you need to produce a lot of content to grow your backlinks and domain authority over a long-term campaign. This is a lot of work, and honest marketers might outsource their growth content to a third party like an SEO agency or a freelancer.
Once they do, they’re opening themselves up to a network of global talent. But amongst that, there are content plagiarists looking to churn out decent-looking work and get paid before their clients realize what’s happened.
There are three main kinds of content plagiarism you need to be aware of. Let’s take a look.
At the bottom of the barrel, you’ll find plagiarists who just copy and paste chunks of other people’s writing into a patchwork article. They’ll polish up the H1 and H2 headings to meet your SEO goals, then send it over with no attention to the writing that goes in between them.
These articles often don’t even make sense, as there’s no attention to the structure of the logical flow of arguments. Even worse, if at any point a writer on a deadline has published a factual error, that error will be copy-pasted across their WiFi network but reproduced all over the internet.
If the content plagiarist is copy-pasting from low-quality articles that have themselves been copy-pasted. Whole search-results pages could be filled with misinformation without anyone intending to mislead the searcher.
“Patchwriting” was a word coined in the early 1990s by writing professor Rebecca Moore Howard, when students were just starting to write their essays on desktop computers. As soon as students had access to the copy-paste feature, they were using it to fill up their essays’ word counts the night before their work was due.
But unlike the copy-paste plagiarists, these early patch writers had the good sense to change a few words around so that their plagiarism went undetected.
Sometimes these students weren’t looking to deceive. They were just writing about a topic they didn’t understand well enough to re-describe in their own words. Being able to describe a topic to someone else is one key marker of understanding – the “Feynman Technique” for accelerated learning is built on this – and these students were compensating for their lack of understanding by paraphrasing the writing in their textbooks or online sources.
The modern-day patch writer is not so innocent. Much like the copy-pasters, these are content writers trying to turn around cheap work faster with little effort.
They’ll take a line like “football is one of the most popular sports in the world” and change that to “one of the most popular sports in the world is football.” They’ll stuff some of the necessary keywords in there and send it away to the client. This is a big SEO mistake. If the client doesn’t notice the plagiarism, Google will.
Not all plagiarism is intentional. If you and your competitors are writing about a very narrow, very technical subject like PBX hosting, it can be hard to find many fresh angles on that particular topic.
Although, there’s no room for interpretation. The facts are either accurately described, with the correct technical terminology and relevant industry jargon, or they aren’t. You might end up repeating points your competitors’ blog posts made simply because there’s only one correct way to describe your product in detail.
If you’re not careful about your word choice, you could inadvertently plagiarize a short section of a competitor’s writing. If your blog post ranks well on a keyword, your competitor might notice your post and not unfairly accuse you of stealing their work. That’s just one of the serious risks that content plagiarism poses to your company, as we’ll see below. Read more: https://bit.ly/3beDKAK
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