Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism when it comes to online content. It’s understandable. Not everyone is a professional writer, and even fewer people have the skills for search engine optimization (SEO) writing. However, every company needs online presence—and facing a blank screen or the pressure to drum up some killer content for that new website can be anxiety-inducing. What do you do when you find another website that says exactly what you want to say perfectly?
Many people “borrow” (sometimes heavily and verbatim) from other websites, not realizing the full consequences of these actions. Simply put, it’s stealing. And there are quite a few people and entities, including the almighty Google, who aren’t going to be very happy about it. Whether it’s an entire website’s content which is “lifted,” infographics or bits and pieces, “getting away with it” is actually pretty difficult in the online world. Here’s why.
There are a lot of big no-no’s in the world of SEO, actions that will get your website punished via pushing it down to the dregs of Google searches. One of these actions is “duplicate copy.” Sometimes people want to monopolize their industry or key words, so they’ll buy multiple, similar URLs such as AwesomeWebsite.com, AwesomeWebsite.net, AwesomeWebsite.org and even AwesomeWebsite.info—and then they’ll copy and paste the exact same content onto each site.
Google will catch you with their algorithms when this happens, and Google will also catch you if you copy and paste content from someone else’s website. Duplicate content is duplicate content, period. There’s no hiding from Google, who doesn’t take kindly to black hat SEO tricks.
...and the Owner Knows, Too
Getting in trouble with Google is one thing. But what happens when the true owner of the content finds out (as they often do)? You can get sued for stealing online content, and it’s just as serious as if you photocopied a published book and tried to market it as your original work. A lawsuit over stolen online content isn’t something that happens in extreme cases. It’s actually pretty common and can destroy a business, reputation and clean out your finances.
Not everyone who steals content realizes they’re in the wrong. Sometimes it just seems easier (it’s not in the long run), sometimes people don’t understand the legality of the matter and sometimes it’s seen as a temporary fix until original content can be written. Writer’s block is a very real thing, especially for non-writers, and taking content from another source is seen by many as the only option.
The good news? A quality SEO company has expert writers who specialize in SEO and provide the highest quality content for you and your unique website. Don’t settle for “hand me down” content, risk a lawsuit or tempt the rage of Google. You deserve something 100 percent original and written just for you.
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