Plagiarized and duplicate content (as well as copyright breach) are not synonyms, but they do have something in common. They’re shortcuts and are usually a desire to gain profit. So what can these misdeeds entail and how do you avert their negative consequences?
Using Copyrighted Visuals to Promote Your Product
The number of countries willing to toughen copyright infringement fines is constantly growing. According to businessinsider.com, the UK is on the point to introduce “up to 10 years behind bars” for the commercial copyright breach and is going to make stricter rules for physical persons too. While the amount of penalties presupposed by the U.S. Copyright Office range from $750 to $250.000 per offense and up to five years in prison. Sounds really horrifying, doesn’t it?
You do know how much conversion depends on visuals you use to create web content, promotional articles, presentations, etc. Taking into account huge amount of the material you need to come up with daily, it’s necessary to know tools and resources you can resort to without breaking the law.
See the infographics by thevisualcommunicationguy.com
Among the recipes you may be given, there’s a tip to avoid using free stock visuals and choose the ones protected by Creative Commons. Yes, it’s true that most put trust in the images protected by them. On the one hand it’s a good decision, because under the Creative Commons rules you should attribute the author but don’t have to contact him or her in person to obtain official permission. On the other hand, you may accidentally choose the photos, which were uploaded for share not by their original creator as Pamela Vaughan did a few years ago.
To never get trapped, here are a few prompts for you to follow and a number of tools to design your own images, presentations or videos:
- Even if there’s no copyright notice or symbol, you still need to attribute the original source or author, for more details on copyright you can visit the U.S. Copyright Office website or check out this exhaustive list of FAQs
- You can use an open access video, image, etc. to provide examples, commentaries, deeper insight into the issue following Fair Use main prescriptions
- Take time to read user policy carefully on the resource you’d like to take a visual from
- Take advantage of such royalty free stocks as unsplash.com, picography.co, pexels.com
- If you want to find out how many sources have already published the image you selected for your content, download it to your PC and then again upload it in the Google Image tab
- Should you be inspired enough to make images, posters, infographics, or shopping catalogs on your own, visit these sites: thinglink.com, canva.com and infogr.am
Stealing or Duplicating Website Content: What is Worse
As you understand, both stealing and duplicating content can cause a lot of harm. Even widely popular ecommerce sites aren’t ashamed of ripping off someone’s product ideas, and here is an example. If you aim at increasing your credibility as a good resource for customers, clients or readers, then you do have to generate original content. Scraping it from others can prevent your visitors from finding you on the Internet. On top of that, you can be issued a takedown notice.
Duplicate content is often misinterpreted. To avoid any possible ambiguities, let’s consider the definition by Google: “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin”.
Nevertheless there is no such notion as “duplicate content penalty”, your site rankings can be negatively effected because search engines won’t know exactly what page to link to, what link metrics to show and which page to choose in response to a query. Besides, people who would like to share your content on the Internet, will indicate different URLs to give reference and cause additional duplications. This is the reason for Google to refer to your content as “thin” or “boiler-plate”. It breaks website performance guidelines, that’s why your site cannot only be lowered in the search results, but also suffer from “manual action”.
What else can cause duplication problems? If you have repeated disclaimer text or reposted your web content moderately you won’t run the risk of loosing your search positions. However, when your republished content exceeds forty or fifty percent, it’s high time to reconsider your content strategy. In other words, what really matters here is the volume of these duplications. But if republishing is inevitable, try out rewriting techniques then.
Should you fail to deliver quality content translation without adapting it for regional site, it might be referred to as automatically generated content. As a result, it will also fall under a “thin content” definition. To prevent this from happening, take time to make some tweaks, which could be more appropriate for a particular location.
Another point you should take into account is keyword density and repetitions across your web pages, which should be eliminated. This is the case where the saying “measure is treasure” is the best fit.
These are a few more prompts to help you out:
- Select preferred domain and avoid duplicate content manually with the help of Webmaster tools
- Apply Google keyword planner to choose different keywords for your web pages
- Make efforts to avoid unnecessary content repetitions, use rewording instead
- Give preference to 301 redirects instead of closing your duplications from indexing with robots.txt. When crawlers are blocked, they might fail to understand that closed pages contain similar content, therefore they are likely to treat it as a unique one
- Should you have doubts about the origin of the data you want to include into your content, apply a meta tag rel=”nofollow” in the html link code
- Use tools able to timely notify you about possible duplications
- Show crawlers what pages should be seen by your website visitors and linked to by using link rel=”canonical”
Not Unique Content Created by Hired Copywriters or Content Writers
Sometimes delegating content to outsourcing or freelance companies can cost you a good reputation or even loss of clients or customers… You can put yourself at risk when publishing it without checking for plagiarism and proper attribution, especially when you are about to spread this content all over the web, as it usually happens to press releases, for example. You are at risk when accepting guest posts on your website too. So, what precautions can be taken in the first place?
- Not to post similar press releases or posts on your site, take advantage of automatic plagiarism checkers which allow to run scans against your personal database or the Internet
- Prepare content plans well in advance not to hasten when a due date comes
- Check for content similarities simply by pasting a suspicious passage surrounded by quotation marks into the search string
Sharing Your Product Feed with Ecommerce Giants
Aiming at boosting your sales, you are likely to share your product feeds with multiple third-party sites. This desire is quite natural. Though if your ecommerce website is not as highly ranked as these resources, you’d better think carefully what product feed to share with them.
Lots of marketers stick to the point that this way you might hinder your site from climbing up the “search results ladder”, since ecommerce giants have already earned many credibility scores and occupy top positions. Besides, when sharing the same product feed you may multiply duplicate content.
What can be done to stay safe? You’d better create a simpler version of your product feed for sharing and post more detailed customer-focused descriptions on your resource.
Taking Little Care about Original Product Descriptions
Paying no attention to product descriptions is another widespread reason why ecommerce websites have so many content duplications across the web, especially when they just “start their life” on the Internet. The same is true when they are just scraped/taken directly from manufacturers’ or other sites with similar range of products.
Product description on official TopShop site
The same product description on more than 1,500 other sites
To build a strong online reputation, it’s vital to count every single detail including titles and headlines for products, which should be unique as well and contain brand name, product type or model and other valuable qualities to simplify the process of making purchases.
Though if content prevails on a web page, it tends to decrease conversion rates. That’s why product descriptions should be concise and emphasize your product advantages. For example, you can blend texts if they refer to products having similar characteristics. By doing so, you can also reduce the number of web pages with almost the same content.
Wonder what else can be improved with minimum efforts? Here’s a list:
- To have your product content updated without spending a single second on this task, encourage website visitors to post reviews on your site. For more details on how to do it best, follow this link
- Vary your content by video-reviews or presentations and quality photos to add more value both for customers and your website weight
- Use proper keywords in URLs, texts describing goods or services without repeating them
- Decide if you really need a category page. As a rule, this page has only a title and a product grid. If you’ve chosen to save it, then add more meaningful content at the top of the page specifying what product types are mentioned here
- Ensure your home page doesn’t have any duplicate content. Avoid copy-pasting some passages from the home page to compose your brand/shop/product descriptions, which then will be included into external online listings or directories
*Extra Tools to Be on the Safe Side
Shortly put, whenever dealing with content you shouldn’t be in a hurry. Otherwise it will take you much more time to fix all duplication, copyright or plagiarism issues. To drive more online customers to your resource, you’d better “stay on the light side of the force”, i.e. the unique content side.
For the most curious of you, this is another bonus list of tools you can apply for crafting new juicy content and effectively track its duplications:
- Silteliner.com allows to trace duplicate content, find broken links and more
- Visual.ly will enable you to make purely unique visuals including ebooks, infographics, reports or presentations
- Knowledgevision.com will come in handy when you need to come up with video presentations
- Camtasia is a good choice for video creation even for those who doesn’t have such experience
About the Author: Lynn Usrey is a newbie essayist, freelance writer and content creator. Her areas of interest are copywright law, publishing business and creative content. If you liked Lynn’s article, check out her latest posts on her about.me page.