Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Consequences of Online Plagiarism

How successful will your online marketing be greatly depends on the content that you publish on your blog or website. In its efforts to provide relevant and quality links to the users, Google is improving its algorithms to better notice and penalize plagiarized or duplicate content on the Web, that is, same content that appears on more than one web page on the Internet, and even on the same website. If you want to keep your website listed in the results of the world’s most popular search engine, you better not steal content from any website, no matter how harmless that might seem to you, like to copy and paste a small part from a source like Wikipedia to fill a section on your website about the area you live in.

What is Plagiarism on the Internet?

Online plagiarism, or content scraping, refers to copying the same text and/or images from a certain source, without properly citing them. These methods for building search index-able content have been extensively used in the past, but today they are not only inapplicable, but can also have serious legal and search rank consequences for the web owners.

Legal Outcomes: There are many tools on the market today designed to identify content scraping. If the content they detect is plagiarized or isn’t properly cited, the web owners can file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) removal notice, and if the plagiarists don’t remove the scraped content, they can then file a copyright infringement lawsuit. As you can see, there are serious legal consequences to online plagiarism.

Search Rank Outcomes: When the search engines discover duplicate content on a certain website they will lower its rank in their result pages, and if the content scraping is severe enough, they’ll even remove the website from their results. The Panda update is Google’s way of saying No! to scrapping websites with low quality content and a high ad-to-content ratio, and Bing and Yahoo are also against and fighting plagiarism. Without these search engines your website has no real chance of seeing the light of the day. An article from some popular website might be an interesting source for your readers, but won’t be of much help to you if thanks to it your website drops of Google, Yahoo and/or Bing. Still, despite the high risk of penalization and even removal from the search engine results, there are many website owners that choose to plagiarize content. This further highlights how important it is that we protect our original content.

How to Protect your Content?

There are many different tools that webmasters can use to detect potential plagiarism, like the plagiarism checker PlagTracker, the duplicate content checking and monitoring tool PlagSpotter, or CopyScape, etc. When they are certain their content has been plagiarized they can file a DMCA complaint and ask for the duplicate content to be removed.