The Perils of Plagiarism

Eva Webster, Managing Director @ Article-writing.co
Posted On: May 17, 2018
Content has now become one of the most important aspects of marketing for any industry in North America, as well as globally. It is estimated that content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019.
Businesses are getting on the content train and taking their marketing for a ride, by developing brilliant web, newsletter, and blog copy, showcasing themselves on social media, and by creating lead magnets like e-books and guides. And like any other exploding industry, there are going to be those that take advantage and try to get their piece of the pie without contributing any of the apples, and that’s why plagiarism is bad.

In the content industry, one of the biggest sources of fraud is plagiarism. Plagiarists are everywhere and businesses that aren’t protecting themselves could be liable for copyright infringement, SEO penalties, and lost revenue. Plagiarism is alive and well in this industry. Here’s how to protect your business and yourself.

What is plagiarism?

Normally when you think of plagiarism, you imagine students buying essays from other students or even those who fail to cite a reference. Disciplinary committees don’t tolerate the stealing of another person’s work, but in the real world, the consequences can be much larger. Essentially, plagiarism is the wrongful appropriation and the stealing of someone else’s thoughts while claiming it to be their own. There are many reasons that someone would plagiarize, but the most obvious is that the writer is lazy and wants to be paid for work they did not do.

Plagiarism doesn’t just include articles that are copied fully from another source. Some scammers in the industry will piece together articles by copying sentences or paragraphs from several different sources. The writer will change just what they think they need to in order to get the article accepted, when they’ve written no more than a few sentences in the entire article.

Another form of plagiarism is called “patchwriting” and is where a writer will just rewrite an article they found on the web in their own words. They are basically just rehashing posts and aren’t adding value to the article that you are paying them to write. Because Google looks for unique and relevant content to rank on the search engine, any content written in this form will be penalized and rank low. If Google recognizes that it is wrong, you should too.

Plagiarists aren’t just the newbie writers on your team but can even be your most-trusted writers. Some plagiarists will write original content a large majority of the time and then slip in copied content at regular intervals, knowing that the trust the client has built in them will supersede the fact that they should be checking each and every piece submitted.

What harm does plagiarism cause?

Many of our clients have dealt with writers who have plagiarized their work and in fact, the fantastic editors here at Article-writing.co catch at least one plagiarist a month who submits work that are not theirs. Fortunately, we catch these con artists before it can impact our business and our client’s integrity. Some of our clients came to us because they were not well-informed at how to protect their business and suffered greatly because of the act of a plagiarist. When the content you use for your business is not 100% original, it has the effect of causing lost revenue, diminishing your reputation, wasting time, losing clients, and there will be a hit to your SEO. Here’s how:

Lost revenue

If you’ve already paid the writer, you’ve paid them for services they did not perform. In 99% of cases, they won’t offer that money back to you. They’ll be gone quicker than you can say “not your work”. You can try to get them to rewrite the work, but with your trust fractured, you may just want to cut your losses and move on with a different writer – or worse – rewrite all of the plagiarized content yourself.

Wasted time

Once a writer is deemed to be a plagiarist, all their past work must be checked to ensure it is all original. This is a very time-consuming task and never comes at a good time. Whether they’ve worked for you for days or for years, your time will inevitably be lost to a task that is tedious and most likely, anger-provoking. All plagiarized work will have to be rewritten, which again takes time away from your business. You’ll have to hire a new writer and spend time training them, and you won’t have that two weeks of notice that you normally have. Expect to work some long hours after finding a plagiarist on your team.

Charisa Richardson, Operations Manager at Impressions Agency, says that having writers on her team that plagiarized their work “caused not only disruption in workflow, but added a lot of additional work and resources to make things right.”
why plagiarism is bad

Lost clients

If you publish work for other clients, you’ll have to let them know that their work was written by a plagiarist. If some of that work has been copied, you will need to do damage control to keep the client. These clients will lose trust in your business and your processes and you may see them walking out the door if you can’t prove that this won’t happen again. At Article-writing.co, our proactive measures have ensured that no plagiarized content has ever been published, but we have had to let our clients know that a person who is now known to copy content from other sources has worked on their content.

Diminished reputation

In some cases, the writer will actually try to defend themselves and call you out as the one who is a scammer.  We’ve had incidences of plagiarists defaming us by publishing reviews saying we don’t pay our writers after they’ve been caught copying someone else’s work. Hiring a copywriter for your content is a difficult task and truly takes some know-how. You’re taking a risk every time you invite a copywriter to know the inner workings of your business and your client’s business.

SEO penalties

One of the worst outcomes of having a plagiarist on your team is that your content will take an SEO hit, and unfortunately you may not even know it. If the content on your site is directly copied from another site and the original publisher finds out, they can report it to Google. Your site can then be blacklisted, and the copied pages will be removed from search engines. If your site has enough copied content, your entire site might be removed from the search engines, resulting in a traffic drop by as much as 90% overnight.

Even if the copied content isn’t reported by the original publisher, Google’s algorithm knows when content has been copied. It is considered duplicate content and will rank your site very low. Even your good content will start failing to rank.

Copyright infringement

While different countries vary on the fees for infringing on copyright, you really don’t want to get yourself into this spot, no matter where you reside. There is nothing worse than finding out that someone on your team plagiarized their work, except to find out that you are going to have to pay for that copied work and pay for a lawyer to help you navigate the hot water you find yourself in.

plagiarism is bad for business

How to protect your business from plagiarists

Clear policies

At Article-writing.co, we have a zero-tolerance policy against plagiarism. We check each and every piece we receive from writers to ensure the work isn’t copied from another source. Writers sign a contract to state that if they are found to have plagiarized, they will forfeit all payment for their work. In this industry, this is a must-do, because the more a plagiarist gets away with copying another person’s work and pawning it off as their own, the more they’ll continue to do it. Richardson says, “I believe having strong systems in place and making sure to set very clear expectations with the writers, letting them know that no level of plagiarism is tolerated and that it will result in job loss”.

Use the available technology

Plagiarism checkers are going to be your best friend in this situation. There are many free options online, but the premium versions are much better at finding even the shortest snippets of copied text. All of our work is 100% Copyscaped using the premium version of this checker.

Have trustworthy editors

Editors are going to be invaluable, not just because they ensure a piece of work is quality writing, but because they’ll know if a piece is not original writing. Because technology has its limits, a reliable and capable editor will spot issues that the checkers may not have found. For example, career plagiarists will sometimes reuse their own work and pass it off as original. The online checkers might not catch this, especially if the work was only recently published. This is where a good editor comes in and recognizes that they’ve seen the work before. After working with a writer regularly, a good editor will come to recognize the level of skill and the intricacies of a certain writer. They can easily spot if something seems above that writer’s level of skill or if the writing doesn’t carry the same voice.  Fact-checking and verifying all sources is another way editors will find out if the copy produced is not original.

Training your writing team

Encouraging your writing team to produce 100% original content can be a challenge, but it is a necessity in today’s digital world. Ask your writers to write content that provides audiences with value in the way that it is different from anything else out there. Not only is this going to prevent plagiarism, it is going to increase the worth of the piece to your audience. If you are more interested in cheap copy, know that you will get what you pay for.

Monitor content after its posted

Plagiarism goes both ways, and your own content online can be stolen. Ross Trittipo created a carpet cleaning website and was shocked to find out that another business had copied his site word for word. The perpetrator explained that they didn’t have any writing skills and was “jealous” of his copy. Fortunately for Trittipo, it worked out well for him. “I told the guy if he liked what I wrote, he should just hire me. So, he did. And since then I’ve done $20k worth of writing for him.” While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in the case of someone copying your work, it isn’t very gratifying.

There are a number of tools you can use to ensure the copy you paid a premium to get written doesn’t get stolen by plagiarists. Check out this list, from SEMrush:

  • Copysentry – from the makers of Copyscape, monitors the web for content stolen from your website
  • SEMrush Position Tracking – monitors your keywords to ensure your competitors aren’t using your content
  • IFTTT – get email alerts when your keywords show up somewhere else online

While catching a plagiarist on your team is harrowing, it may be the wakeup call you need to improve how you do business. Richardson says, “On the positive side, it has forced us to improve our processes and put elements in place to help us catch plagiarism quickly”.

If you are having difficulty finding writers you trust, who produce 100% original and high-quality content, leave the job to us. Our article writers are vetted thoroughly and all of their work is Copyscaped and edited twice to ensure that every piece of content you publish is unique.

Need Writing Help?

If writing expertly-crafted blog posts isn’t your thing, you can always hire a professional content writing service like Article-Writing.co. We’ll take care of the words, so you can get back to focusing on growing your business.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is offering your target audience information and materials that will engage them and motivate them to choose your business. 

Seems easy, right? 

Often, companies will simply share general content to please everyone. But let’s be honest: you can’t win them all. And that’s okay! 

Rather than throwing a line and hoping the fish will bite, create Thought Leadership content strategically catered to your target market. Consider the people who would genuinely need or care about what your business offers, rather than wasting time, effort, and resources on creating general, unfocused content. Successful content marketing involves promoting your products and services to the people interested in the subject matter, who will read the content, click on your company website, and take action. 

As an executive of an organization, you are a valuable piece of the brand. Consumers want to know about the human presence leading companies, in order to understand more about the company’s values and goals. 

Take advantage of your position as an industry expert and share extra content to attract more attention to yourself as an industry leader and your company. Your quality content will build your reputation as a reliable voice to earn your consumer’s trust. However, if it’s not focused on your target audience, you won’t earn many conversions from your content. 

Consider these techniques to guide your Thought Leadership content so it can expand and strengthen your loyal consumer following:

  • Identify your target audience by reviewing your current consumer data and identifying who is investing in your business or reacting to your thought leadership materials so far. Look for trends to find why these people are interested and if others like them haven’t been reached yet. 
  • Conduct customer research to learn how they will respond to your thought leadership content. Request participation in surveys, polls, social media comments, and more to learn about your existing impression on your audience and how you can improve your platform. 
  • Create target audience character profiles. Identify their interests, demographics, pain points, needs, and desires, and write to them.
  • Find where your current and potential audience is active online.  Catch their attention by being active and sharing your content marketing materials on these platforms.
  • Pull inspiration from other Thought Leader examples. Research other executives within your field who implement successful content marketing through their personal platforms. Learn what qualities make their content attractive and why readers respond to it positively. These examples can offer a base for you to visualize what you want to achieve. 
  • Recognize your strengths as a Thought Leader. Often, leaders aren’t necessarily aware of the unique talents that give them an advantage in their industry until asked. Reflect on what topics you know best and how to input your insights to humanize your materials, make them original and more engaging for your audience. 


Case Study: How Strategic Content Marketing Can Broaden Your Audience

In our client strategy calls, our team will interview our expert clients to learn about their industry expertise and find out what’s meaningful to them, their business, and then identify who we believe to be their target audience. We use these insights to inspire our content subject matter and tone to create impactful content for their current and potential consumers.

Dr. Desai’s COVID PreCheck App Content Marketing

For example, our client, Dr. Nitin Desai, approached our strategy team to create content to promote his COVID Pre-Check app. His innovative software is intended to help employers ensure their employees who enter the office are COVID-free, providing a safe environment by eliminating the chance of spread. 

Our team of strategists recognized that with Dr. Desai’s thorough professional knowledge around the COVID-19 virus, he had the potential to become a reliable voice in a culture of people seeking answers. We created content for Dr. Desai that focused on sharing COVID-related insights to reach a wider audience, which has been a successful mission. Our thoroughly planned content reflected his industry expertise, which brought him attention from various media outlets and publications, including Forbes

By reaching out to our professional content marketing team, Dr. Desai achieved his goal of promoting his groundbreaking app, while also positioning himself as an authoritative voice in his field. Our team learned about his voice, discovered what was meaningful to him and his target audience, and optimized this to create focused, engaging content that broadened his consumer scope. 

Ready to Invest In Your Article-Writing.co Thought Leadership Package? 

At Article-Writing.co, we understand that you have a lot on your plate. Let us share your voice on your behalf, so you don’t need to add more time to your busy schedule to write your own content marketing. Our strategists and creators will develop a plan to create engaging materials to represent your Thought Leader brand through your own specialized Thought Leadership Package

Let us help you strengthen and broaden your consumer base for continued professional success. Book a call today.