Any type of content that you picked from someone else’s website is considered plagiarism. Even images and audio are considered content, which can be under a copyright law. Your website must adhere to its policies, or else your website ranking can be sued. Or worse, you can be legally sued. Episode 10 is all about content – what makes it original, why it matters, and how to avoid plagiarism.
Patrick Reyes: Hello and welcome to the program. My name is Patrick and on today’s show we have Wayne Bucklar, the CEO of SEO Bites. Welcome to the program once again Wayne.
Wayne Bucklar: It’s a pleasure being with you. Thank you for the invitation.
Patrick: What is considered original content?
Wayne: The thing that’s considered original content by Google is content that it hasn’t found before on any other of the million of websites in indexes. So when it finds content, if it determines that that content was written by someone else or it belongs to someone else then it will allocate the credit points to the original author. Now it is a machine, it’s doing this algorithmically via software, it’s not an academic panel who are frantically examining the origins of language or anything. It’s just looking for the characteristics of writing which allow it to attribute it to a particular author. It goes beyond straight phrases, how many words in a row constitutes to you copying and so on and so forth, it goes into sentence structure and even things like the rhyme and meter of the writing. Now without getting too bolted down in that, if you cut and paste stuff from other people’s website through web scraping that’s absolutely gonna be seen as stealing content from someone else. If you have someone else writing content for you, if they are genuinely writing it as original content for you that’ll be fine. However, if they’re writing the same piece for five or six customers and they used similar phraseology or similar terminology, similar structure to the article that may be considered to be copied. So original content is in my opinion the easiest way to do it is to be the author and the easiest way I find to ever write anything is to do it like I’m doing this video. Someone asks me questions and their questions are about my business and stuff that I’m passionate about and I just answer them. I don’t have a script, we don’t pre-plan what’s going to be said, you just ask me questions and I answer them like it was someone ringing me up on the telephone. That way it’s guaranteed original, you can see my lips moving.
Patrick: Why does original content matter?
Wayne: In order for your website to be effective, it has to be seen by the people you want to see it and in order for it to be seen it has to be found from search results. If someone types ‘Wayne Bucklar’ into Google they’ll gonna find lots of stuff about me and they’re absolutely gonna find my website but the reality is if they know my name and they know my business name they could just look me up in the phone directory and call me up, there’s no need for them to search for me apart from convenience. Where you want to be found is where customers are looking for you by a content search not by your name, they’re typing in ‘I’ve got a leaky tap’ if you’re a plumber or ‘I just had hail damage on my windows. Who do I get to replace the glass?’ They’re going to type in a question that they want solved, they’re gonna talk about their problem and you want them to find your website if that’s your business. If you’re on the business of fixing that problem you want to come up number one. Now what makes you come up number one is the ranking that Google gives your webpage in your local area for your particular domain of activity and one of the 200 things it considers is original content. Now the other things are very important, I’m not saying forget about all the other things you do in SEO, links and so on and so forth, all those 200 signals are all important and if you go to Google it’ll tell you not what the 200 signals are but it’ll tell you what many of them are and it’ll tell you what the best practice is. One of the things it’ll tell you to do is to frequently publish original content. Now frequently publishing original content is what will get you to the top of Google all things being equal. And how do you do that? Well I have many, many, many customers so they may… why need an exterminator, what do I know to put on the internet, I sell wood glaze, what do I know to put on the internet, or I service cars, well it’s the curse of assumption. Whatever it is you do for a living, you know a whole ton of stuff that other people just don’t know and the stuff you know is the answer to their questions. So if their question is ‘How do I deal with white ants?’ or ‘I’ve got muddy dirt under my kitchen cabins. What could it possibly be?’ Then the stuff that everyone ant exterminator knows is the answer to that question, the reason you should put it on the internet is that 99% of others don’t and you should talk about it and have it transcribed into content on authoritative sites and you should have it frequently published as original content. So these are questions that you answer having drink at the pub that you answer when you toy with your colleagues that you answer in the phone with customers everyday. But Google doesn’t know you do those thing it only knows what you publish, so publishing original content is vitally important to getting your webpage to be on the first page or at the top of the first page.
Patrick: What are the various forms of content that can be placed on a website?
Wayne: When we create a video of someone, we do basically a 10 minute video shoot like we’re doing today over the internet, we do it on a question and answer format, no scripts, just some agreement about what the questions are going to be and then a discussion between a presenter and the customer. We then take that video and turn it into a number of different media formats, so we’d lift the audio off it, we type a transcript of it, we put the audio out as a podcast, we take the video and put it on YouTube, we take the audio and put it in a couple of internet radio stations, we then write a whole bunch of social media posts for it, we take the transcript and turn that into a powerpoint slide deck to go on SlideShare and so on and so forth. So we create a whole bunch of if you like artifacts and media files from the one interview and before we do that, we get the person who gave the interview to approve the transcript so all of the content has their approval before it’s published.
Patrick: How can my website avoid being punished for plagiarism?
Wayne: One of the things that damages websites dramatically is if Google gets the impression that they are breaking the rules with regard to plagiarism, that is they’re copying content. Google used to not worry about it too much but after Hummingbird and again Google doesn’t necessarily publish its intent or tell you, you’re at the whim of Google. You agreed to put your website in their search engine, where they rank it and how they rank it is entirely up to them, you get no ifs, buts or maybes about this. So if for instance they determine that your website is originating spam, if they determine that it publishes child pornography, they will go so far as to close your account and take it right out of their index. But now one of the things that they punish people for is Link Farms where you buy lots of backlinks to websites that are only invented to create backlinks or where you plagiarize that is where you steal content of other people’s websites. Now it used to be that screen scraping, cutting and pasting content of other people’s websites and retyping it into your own was kind of standard practice in lots of ways 10 years ago. Please now be very careful, if you do that you will get your ranking slacked down by Google and even to the extent that if you’re paying someone to create content for you and they’re not ensuring that it is original, if they’re creating content for a dozen customers all at once and there’s enough similarity between it for Google to identify as being from the same source, you’ll get punished for tha0t as well. Our answer to this, we have you talk about your business that’s about as original as it can get.
Patrick: If another website were to plagiarize my content, would that affect my website?
Wayne: That’s a good question Patrick, if another site is to plagiarize your content how would it affect you? Well it actually doesn’t hurt you, if someone else plagiarizes your content and publishes it as though it was theirs Google knows that it was yours first, their indexes keep track of who published this content first. And therefore when they publish it, you will get the credit for that content even though they’ve published it on their website and if they do it a lot they’ll get smacked for trying to mislead people for stealing your content. So the only time this is an issue is where you have a whole lot of content that you’ve published in one domain and then you want to change domain names then you need some advice from an SEO expert about how you go about doing that. But Google’s remember an algorithm, it’s a set of software rules, it’s not a forensic panel investigating the original authors like William Shakespeare, it’s just a computer that has a big index of content over time that looks at it and says ‘Oh, I’ve seen this before. Who published it first?’ And that’s who it determines the original author.
Patrick: Can using images, videos and music from the internet be considered as plagiarism?
Wayne: Yes Patrick. Any sort of content that you picked from someone else’s website is considered plagiarism, it’s also probably a breach of copyright unless you licensed that. The way around is is if you do use it make sure you’ve got a license and make sure you’ve got a statement on your website that it is licensed because Google can read that. But generally it’s not the images and the music that Google gets too upset about, they do that on their own sites in terms of monitoring their copyright on YouTube and so on and so forth but generally what they’re concerned about is the words. Is the information that they’re using to put you at the top of the page going to meet the customer’s requirement for the best website to answer their question. Google is trying to look after Google, they’re a business, that’s what they do.
Patrick: Would it be ideal to use content from other people even if it’s under fair use?
Wayne: There are fair use arrangements and they’re under copyright law. There are fees, provisions particularly with regard to education and I’m not advocating that you should not use those at all. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t allow people to believe that that’s your intellectual output when it’s come from somewhere else. So by all means use it but reference it or tag it or quote it. When you’re talking about your business, when you’re talking about the stuff that you know let your passion come through, use your words and create original content often and that’s what Google will reward you for, being seen as the domain authority in your local area.
Patrick: Well thank you once again for joining us Wayne, it’s been a pleasure talking to you today.
Wayne: It’s my pleasure, thank you for having me back again. I look forward to doing some more in the future.