The Trouble with Plagiarism

Most articles about good, SEO friendly copy and content writing will state at some point or another that both copy and content on any given site should be ‘original’ or ‘unique’.

Here is why all good SEO writers stress this point over and over again.


‘Borrowing’ or ‘copying’ all or parts of content from other Websites, blogs, etc, is termed as plagiarism. While the terms ‘borrowing’ and copying’ may sound comparatively harmless, plagiarism is, as a matter of fact, a serious offence. According to online dictionaries, plagiarism is defined as:

  • Stealing or passing off other people’s ideas/ words as your own
  • Committing literary theft
  • Using other people’s work without giving them (the source) credit
  • Presenting work derived from existing sources as ‘new and original’

Involving the theft of someone else’s original ideas/ words and lying about it subsequently makes plagiarism fraud; it’s as simple as that.

What counts as Plagiarism?

In essence, any original thought/ idea that has been expressed and recorded in some fashion (computer files, on blogs, Websites or in books) is protected by copyright legislation. Any of the following actions are considered to be acts of plagiarism, or literary theft:

  • Copying other people’s ideas/ words without crediting the original source
  • Providing incorrect information concerning quotation sources
  • Failing to place quotation marks around quotations
  • Copying sufficient words/ ideas from sources for them to make up most or all of your work (with or without giving proper credit to the source)
  • Passing another writer’s work off as your own
  • Copying another writer’s sentence structure (even if changing the odd word or two) without crediting the source

Committing plagiarism will not only result in being penalised, even black-listed by search engines (and they will detect plagiarism in no time at all), it also leaves you open to possible legal actions.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Citing sources clearly and honestly is usually enough to prevent accusations of plagiarism. Checking out your text with the help of free or paid-for plagiarism checkers (like Copyscape, for example) will also help to prevent ‘accidental’ plagiarism. Accidental plagiarism may occur if you:

  • Write on a popular topic and inadvertently happen to use similar words/ phrases to other writers
  • Use other people’s work as research material and accidentally use three or more words in the same order as used in said material

Checkers like Copyscape will not only alert you to such instances, but provide you with a list of sites where the wording/ phrases are used. These tools can, by the way, also be used to find out whether others are plagiarising your site/ blog’s content.