About duplicate content, plagiarism and Word of Mouth

Duplicate content is a recurring theme in content marketing. A few days ago I stumbled upon the following blog piece (down there at the bottom). Although it was written in 2015, most of its contents is still relevant today. Whoever is a Web author and enjoys some sort of visibility has witnessed the theft of their content at one point or another. It so happens that people with bad intentions, as stated by Rosalind Gardner in her piece, might confuse theft for curation, plagiarism for inspiration.

This is very evil indeed. At the same time however, Internet writers might take a bit of hindsight and brace for impact for something which is bound to happen anyway. The Web is chock full of memes and parody and Creative Commons. Copyright on the Web? Come on, who believes in this nowadays apart from Getty images (even they seem to have thrown in the towel). Let’s have a look at duplicate content and let us ask the question: “should we whine or rejoice?”

Duplicate content: how much of the same thing is too much?
Duplicate content: how much of the same thing is too much?

Duplicate content, true talent and divas

Internet writers should be wary of behaving like divas and ponder about the true value of their talent (not to mention that non Internet writers should too). Honestly, not all plagiarists are thieves. Hell may be paved with good intentions, but let’s remember that they are good. Automated blogging and duplicate content are two very different things. Here I’ll focus on duplicate content.

I have had some of my content duplicated and even though my initial reaction has been anger, on second thought I don’t think it’s the end of the world. To an extent, one might even consider this to be a form of acknowledgement.

How my perception of duplicate content has changed over the years

Over the years my behaviour has changed a lot in that respect. Even though, let me repeat this once more, every word in this piece is absolutely true from a technical point of view.

One day, as I was presenting at a conference in front of a bunch of people, one of them cried “I’ve seen those slides before! My teacher showed them to us but he never mentioned your name”.

Shock, horror! Well, not really.

Who’s got the last laugh now? The thief who was eventually taken for a twit by his former pupil? I don’t think so. If I may say so, I was particularly happy that an academic was using my content for his lectures. He may not have quoted my name but others must have. I felt proud, in a way.

Internet content has always been designed for people to recycle and repost here and there. With or without changes. Obviously, when people quote you and  mention your name it’s even better. It’s what I’m doing here for instance. I’m even using one of WordPress’s best kept secret of a feature: “Press This”.

This is good practice. A proper mention of the author, a link and a personal comment. That’s all that is needed to do things properly.

I do this on a regular basis, this is good training for content writers and it forces you to read what others are writing and comment on it.

Duplicate content: should you be horrified or happy about it?

Much ado about nothing at the end of the day, except that one has to mention the inevitable SEO scarecrow “duplicate content”.

Google’s rule is that when content is duplicated across two different websites, only the less visited of the two is penalised (check the referenced blog post for all the gory details). The original blog piece is not favoured, only the website with most visits. That, in essence, is unfair. Nothing to do with thieves though, it’s just a Google diktat. I’d thought they should have been able to tell which content was published first but apparently not.

So if I decide to share my content with a much more popular website I run the risk of seeing my website expelled from Google’s index. There it goes in a flash, vanished, end of story.

Well, not so not so. I’ve come across this issue a few times and it hasn’t happened like that. If you do this systematically your website will obviously go to the dogs. But doing this once in a while isn’t the end of the world. Those who pilfer external content systematically are also penalised. I’ve seen quite a few of these so-called curation sites go through the cracks (this doesn’t apply to Scoop’it which is a true curation service).

When duplicate content is welcome

Whenever a more famous website have asked for my content I’ve never really had to suffer from it. Let us say that I did and that my visits dwindled it still didn’t mater that much because it meant that my name appeared on a popular site. It’s a trade off in fact.

At the end of the day, in the name of Word of mouth and in order to be known, one should not be too focused on SEO. This does not mean that your website or blog doesn’t matter, obviously it does. But being known matters even more (refer to Mark Schaefer’s opus for details).

As a matter of fact, it has often happened that some of my content was duplicated. Not but choice but by lack of time or lack of attention on my part. And almost always I have found that, and yet again a couple of days ago when I checked a particular title, Google does index all instances of such pieces. Not always maybe but it has occurred a few times and more often than not. If I were you, unless you are a worldwide celebrity who is making a living of her royalties, I would not be overly concerned with this issue and would even be thankful for a little plagiarism.

After all, bad content is seldom copied.

Offer your content, open up to others and in the worst case scenario, ask plagiarists for a mention of your name. Kindly.

PS: if you need your content to be published in different places several time you may always opt for a “no follow” option so as to keep the content in two places but letting Google know that only one of them must be indexed.

10 Reasons to Avoid Automated Blogging

duplicate content

I’ve recently come across so many misconceived notions (and outright lies) about automated blogging that I thought it best to share my white hat perspective on the subject. So, what is automated blogging? Also known as automatic blogging, autoblogging, splogging and scraping; automated blogging is the process of using software to “scrape” content from other blog feeds and repost it automatically to your own blog.Sellers of automated blogging software and plugins scream the praises of the magic ‘set it and forget it’ phenomena — being able to set up a blog that self-generates content and requires no work, i.e. “If you can copy and paste, you can do this”. They claim that because Google loves regular infusions of content, your automated blog will get ranked high and you will make piles of money.

Source : 10 Reasons to Avoid Automated Blogging

Yann Gourvennec
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Yann Gourvennec

CEO & Founder at Visionary Marketing
Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He created visionarymarketing.com in 1996 and since then, he has practiced Web strategy, e-business and Web communications in the field. He has been a member of socialmedia.org from 2008 till 2013 and he co-founded Media Aces, the French Association for enterprises and social media. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger. His upcoming book Mastering Digital Marketing Like A Boss will be published soon. In early 2014, he went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur when he founded his digital marketing agency Visionary Marketing, in partnership with Effiliation.
Yann Gourvennec
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