When you use a content writing service, you’re paying for unique content writing. But how do you know if that’s what you’re actually getting?
It’s not that difficult to take an existing article from a website, switch a few words around, and palm it off as your own work. In fact, there are article spinning tools designed to do just that (although not with prefect results – one that I tried while researching this article changed “eyes green with envy” to “eyes inexperienced with envy”).
If you publish content on your website that has already been published elsewhere (or has enough similarities to existing web content), you could find your site penalised by search engines. And that would defeat the point of writing that content in the first place.
So, how to navigate this minefield? Here are some tools and tips you can use to ensure that when you pay for unique content writing, that is indeed what you are getting.
Why is duplicate content a problem?
Imagine doing a Google search and finding the first page of results displaying ten different websites all with exactly the same content. Not very useful to you as a user, is it?
The main aim of search engines is to provide you with the answer you need in a way that gives you a good experience. That means returning a variety of different, relevant results. If the first one doesn’t give you what you need, you can move on to the next.
So, where multiple websites are displaying the same content, Google will try to work out which one was the original publisher and the rest will be pushed a lot further down the search results.
And it’s not just full pages of identical content that are a problem; plagiarised paragraphs and even sentences will raise a red flag as well.
This is why it’s important to ensure that the content on your website is unique.
How does duplicate content occur?
There are two main ways you can end up with web content that is not unique:
- You publish content that has been copied from another website
- Someone else copies your content after you publish it
I’m not going to go into great detail on how to avoid the second point, although one of the tools listed below can help you detect this.
Instead, I’m going to focus on the first point: ensuring that the content published on your site is original and won’t have a negative impact on your search results.
If you produce your content in-house, the risk of this happening is reduced because you’re employing people who have a vested interest in the success of your company (but, you know, still check it from time to time).
Problems are more likely to occur when you use a third-party content writing service where you pay for unique content writing. Where people are being paid per article or per word, the faster they can get through the work, the more they can do in a day. Where earnings are linked to speed of work, you can see why it would be tempting to just pinch something from another site and re-word it slightly.
Wait, don’t we offer content writing services on a pay-per-article basis? Are we talking ourselves out of work here?
Would you just take our word for it that all the content we supply is original? That’s part of the reason why our content writing prices are perhaps not as cheap as some others you’ll see. As your grandmother would say, you get what you pay for.
The reality is that if you’re paying rock-bottom rates for supposedly unique content writing, you’ll probably end up with something badly written, or plagiarised, or both.
How can I make sure my content is unique?
First of all, don’t forget about things like product descriptions and legal pages. If you sell products from a manufacturer, something as simple as using their standard description can count against you. This is because it’s probably been used by countless other websites as well. Create your own unique descriptions (or get us to do it for you) and you’ll not only avoid duplicate content, you’ll also be able to improve your SEO.
Secondly, if you decide to outsource content writing for your website or blog, do your due diligence first. Ask the writer for references and check out their previous work (even if it’s just a personal blog). And as I said before, if their prices seem too good to be true, there’s probably a reason for this.
Fortunately, you don’t have to just pick a content writer who sounds trustworthy and then hope for the best. There are a range of online tools you can use to check for plagiarism and duplicate content.
5 Tools to check for plagiarism and ensure your content is unique
Copyscape is perhaps the best-known plagiarism checker tool. With free access you can check a URL or section of text. A premium service costing $0.05 per search offers a more powerful tool with additional features – something that larger companies may find useful.
One of its tools, Copysentry, will continue to check your content after you publish it to ensure it isn’t later used by anyone else. If it is duplicated elsewhere, you’ll be alerted and guided through the process to get it removed from the site that stole it.
Siteliner is a website analysis tool from Copyscape which is useful for identifying duplicate content (and other potential problems like broken links) within your own site.
Its free service offers monthly scans of websites up to 250 pages. It also has a premium service with which you can complete unlimited scans of much larger sites.
This plagiarism checker from Small SEO Tools lets you check up to 1000 words of text per search, so is a good option for any occasional checks you need to do. The results will show you links to the websites where your content already appears – a feature that some other services charge for.
They also offer a free WordPress plagiarism checker plugin. Using this, with just a single click you can check that your content is unique right before uploading it to your site.
Their website has links to a number of other tools which small businesses may find useful for other aspects of SEO.
4. Contentrescue’s plagiarism checker claims to be faster than Copyscape and has the added benefit of saving your results in your profile. This means you can go back and re-check them at any time without having to pay for another scan.
The paid service costs $0.05 per page. There is a free service but this is limited to 275 words per check and also requires you to register. At the time of writing they are offering up to 100 checks for free when you register and make your first payment to your account.
5. Quetext’s intelligent algorithm looks beyond exact text matches. It will take into account things like synonyms, which can easily be used to alter text to make it different enough to pass other plagiarism checkers. It also ignores common phrases and quotations while highlighting instances where unique phrases and ideas have been copied.
The service is completely free for unlimited checks – there are no premium add-ons – and it works in a variety of languages aside from English.
Protecting your original content
All of the services listed here promise to delete your data after checking it. This is important because some plagiarism checking services may actually be profiting from your content by selling it on to other parties.
Before uploading any of your content to a service like this, check that they will keep it secure and delete it from their servers after use.
The best way to ensure your website content is unique is to hire content writers that you trust, and pay them a fair rate for their work. Include a clause in your contract to say that you are hiring them for unique content writing and they won’t receive payment for any plagiarised content.
This won’t stop others from copying content you have already published, though, and you can’t rely on search engines knowing that you were the original writer of that content. It’s better to take a proactive stance and regularly check your website for duplicate content using a plagiarism checking tool.