Plagiarized Content on your Website: How Does it Affect SEO and How to Avoid it?

One of the fatal elements that you have to take care of avoiding in SEO is plagiarism. Although plagiarized content used to work for SEO some time ago, it doesn’t cut it nowadays. Instead, websites that are found plagiarizing face the risk of getting de-ranked.

In this post, we will be looking at what plagiarism is, how it affects SEO, and how you can avoid it in your content.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism can be simply defined as the process of taking someone else’s content and passing it off as your own. Right from the very definition, plagiarism comes off as something unethical. Let’s take a look at why it is harmful to SEO.

Why is Plagiarism Bad for SEO?

To understand the answer to this question better, we can divide the consequences of plagiarism into two different categories:

  1. For the human readers
  2. For the search engines themselves

When it comes to human readers, plagiarism can be an issue due to obvious reasons. If a person comes across any content that they have read a couple of times before, published on some top-ranking pages, they will get put off.

In fact, it doesn’t even take many readers to get the news out if a brand gets caught plagiarizing content. Even if one visitor gets wind of it and they happen to publicize it afterwards, everyone will eventually get to know.

Once your readers realize that you’re plagiarizing content, they won’t be as inclined to engage with your brand, nor will they be able to read your content in the future. This will obviously mean bad news for your brand/business since its revenue generation will take a hit.

However, since we’re discussing the consequences of plagiarism for SEO, we also have to define the relationship between customer dissatisfaction and search rankings.

When the regular visitors of a particular website start to wane, the site traffic, as well as the dwell time, are negatively affected. These metrics are some of the deciding factors that SEs use in order to rank sites. When these metrics go down, the site ranking goes down.

So, that is as far as the first point goes. Now let’s move on to the second one, i.e., how plagiarism affects search engines themselves.

If search engines detect that a particular piece of content on a particular website is copied from a source, they de-rank it. Although we’re generalizing it a bit here, Google is the main search engine that is known to de-rank plagiarizing websites.

Now, we’ve discussed both these aspects in detail, and we can pretty much understand the devastating effect that plagiarism can have on SEO. Firstly, it can affect the user experience, which can damage the ranking metrics such as dwell time and bounce rate of your website. On the other hand, it is also directly penalized by SEs.

It sounds scary and all, but don’t worry. Moving on in this post, we will look at some tips and tricks that you can follow to steer clear of plagiarism when writing content. 

 

How Can You Avoid Plagiarism?

Here are some ways in which you can avoid plagiarism when writing SEO content.

  1. Be Thorough with Your Research

The roots of plagiarism take hold in a piece of writing right from the research phase. If the research prior to writing a piece of content is not proper, the chances of it containing plagiarism will be drastically increased.

How exactly? Let’s explain.

There are essentially two things that you have to take care of when conducting research. You have to take care of using the right number of sources as well as the right type of sources.

If you skimp on the first bit, i.e., by not using the right number of sources, you will most likely commit unintentional plagiarism. Since you will be taking your information from one or two sources, you will be influenced by their tenor as well as the sort of information they contain. This could lead you to mimic them without realizing it, which would amount to plagiarism.

On the other hand, if you skimp on the second bit, i.e., not using the right type of sources, you could end up doing your research from content that is itself plagiarized. This is also a stepping stone to committing plagiarism.

Gleaning from the above, we can summarize the takeaway of this tip to be: use the right sources and use a good number of them. This will help you avoid plagiarism.

  1. Use Quotes and Citations Generously

If the need ever arises for you to use some content verbatim from a source, there are some ways in which you can easily do it without bringing the allegation of plagiarism on yourself.

There can be two different things that you can do when it comes to taking content verbatim from a source. You can either a) copy the content as it is or b) change a few words here and there for better clarity.

If you copy the content as it is, then you have to use the quoting technique. In other words, you have to put the borrowed content into quotation marks and then write the source underneath.

On the other hand, if you copy the content in such a way that the original words are not preserved in their actual form, then you have to use citations (Example, 2023). Yes, just like this one that I’ve put in the previous sentence. The brief in-text citations are coupled with detailed references at the end of the document, which describe the accreditation in full.

Using quotes and citations is an effective way to avoid plagiarism since they allow you to give credit to the original source.

  1. Paraphrase Where Necessary

Moving on, another way in which you can avoid plagiarism while also benefitting from the information shared by other sources is to use the paraphrasing technique where necessary.

Paraphrasing something means changing the words and phrases used in it and replacing them with suitable synonyms and alternatives in such a way that the meaning is not disturbed. This is a little different than the “word changing” we described in the heading above.

Paraphrasing can be done using a number of different methods. You can do it manually, or you can take the help of an online tool.

Online paraphrasing tools, like Paraphraser.io and Paraphraseonline.io, can make changes to the given content on their own without requiring human intervention.

There are two main occasions in writing where you can use paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism. You can either:

  1. Use it when you have to take content from a source without quoting it verbatim
  2. Use it when you spot accidental plagiarism in your content and have to get rid of it

Conclusion

Plagiarism can be very harmful to SEO and all, but there are some simple steps and measures that you can take to avoid it.

In this post, we looked at some of the consequences that you can face if you plagiarize content for your SEO endeavors. To avoid consequences, you first have to understand them, and hopefully, you got a good gist of that from this article.