Coming up with new content for your blog is tough, and it can be tempting to copy content that you've seen elsewhere online. Sometimes this happens accidentally, such as if your content is based on research and is too similar to your sources. In other cases, plagiarism is much more blatant, with some "writers" practically copying and pasting entire paragraphs or even entire articles into their blogs. In any case, plagiarism is never acceptable, and plagiarized content should be kept off your site at all times. Here are just five reasons why.
Plagiarism can ruin a writer's reputation faster than anything, even if they're only writing a short blog post for a website. Not only will you be branded a thief for passing off someone else's work as your own, but any credibility you might have had will be lost. After all, if you can't come up with your own ideas, why should anyone listen to what you have to say?
Even if you do follow up copied content with your own unique work, your credibility and reputation will still be tarnished for good. Nobody will trust you, and they won't have a reason to ever visit your site again.
Part of the reason why businesses even have blogs on their websites is for SEO purposes. They want to write content that will rank highly on search engine results, and writing a long-form blog post is a great way to do that. In the past, this meant using certain keywords and phrases in your content that are often entered into search engines. The more a keyword was used, the more likely your content would show up on search results. Since Google's algorithm has changed so much over the years, that isn't the case anymore. Work that repeats keywords ad nauseam now gets flagged as content that shows up everywhere. It's useless, and it ends up with lower rankings as a result.
This same principle applies to plagiarized content. When you copy content from elsewhere, Google's algorithm is likely to recognize it as copied content for the same reasons it flags keyword-stuffed articles, and your search engine rankings suffer as a result.
Not only is plagiarism unethical, but it is also illegal. If you're a student who is caught plagiarizing work, you could be expelled from your school and have your work destroyed. If you're caught plagiarizing content in a professional blog, you could face serious legal penalties as well. The author of the plagiarized work could sue you for copyright infringement, and you may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. In some cases, plagiarism could even land you in jail for up to one year.
Posting fresh and unique content is still the best way to attract visitors to your website. It may take a little extra work to come up with something truly unique, but the extra traffic you'll receive will be worth it. On the other hand, copied content that is taken from other sites will only lead to less traffic. Not only does it hurt your SEO as we've already discussed, but you're more likely to drive traffic to the plagiarized site instead.
If you're serious about being a better writer, copying content from elsewhere won't do you any favors. It's always a good idea to read other content and take inspiration from it, but until you learn how to put your own thoughts down on paper or on a computer screen, your skills as a writer won't improve.
As much as we'd like to wrap this up by saying not to plagiarize work, that is sometimes easier said than done when you're writing online. For example, it's easy to accidentally write something that has already been said elsewhere if you're covering a popular topic. It's also hard to know exactly what you're getting if you're hiring an untested freelance writer for your blog. For all you know, they could be giving you plagiarized content that will go up on your blog and ruin your reputation. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid accidental plagiarism. The easiest is to run your content through a website that offers a plagiarism checker for bloggers before you publish it. The second is to always cite sources that you use when creating your content. If you quote another work, attribute the quote to its original author. If you cite any statistics, create a link to where you found them. Even if this still isn't your own work, at least you're not passing it off as your own.
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