How do you check written content for plagiarism? At some point, every serious webmaster asks this question, and you should too. Plagiarism can hurt website rankings in a big way, not to mention your reputation and your pocket. It can also land you in hot water with the law. The legal repercussions for copyright infringement can be surprisingly severe.
Plagiarizers depend on the vast and anonymous nature of the Internet to conceal their unscrupulous deeds. In most cases, they realize that their actions are less than honorable, but greed and laziness take over. While plagiarists often defend their professional copywriting activities, they count on others never finding out about them swiping content.
However, the same tools that word pirates use to find and abuse copyrighted works can be used against them. The Internet may be a big place, but their steps can be retraced and they can be brought to book before they cause too much damage. These tools can also be used to deter content writers with underhanded intentions.
Below are seven easy ways to check your just written content for plagiarism. This is meant to help bloggers, marketers, and businesses that outsource their writing.
You pay good money for blog posts and copy – don’t let copycats hurt your business!
1. Read It
This is step one: read your articles, blog posts, and web copy. As someone who outsources a lot of content or oversees a copywriting team, it can be difficult to comb through every single piece that comes in. Yet this is necessary, not only for plagiarism purposes, but also to ensure that the writing is engaging prospects and working for your business.
If your just-written content has been plagiarized, there will be clues. It will often contain unusual phrasings, strange synonyms, and English words that are rarely used, especially within a certain context. The style will be inconsistent (a mix of sophisticated and sloppy sentences) and the concepts within the text may seem too advanced.
2. Check the Sources
If requesting that blog writers and article writers cite their sources is something your copywriting service does, spotting plagiarism should be easy.
However, be aware that many plagiarizers assume that you won’t check the content because they have provided those links. And they would be right. Have you outsourced article writing and not checked?
The links and sources could be totally irrelevant, and the writer could just claim that they were placed there erroneously when blogging.
Alternatively, some may be the actual sources they drew information from, while others are not. Sure, it can be time consuming, but it definitely pays to check every link on the reference list.
3. Google It
Running a Google search is one of the easiest and convenient ways to detect online plagiarism. You simply type in a phrase and the search engine checks its large database for potential copies of your plagiarized writing. It will even check Word files, Portable Document Format files (PDFs), and pages that haven’t been HTML formatted.
Another boon is that Google updates in near real time, making it great for tracking down copies of just-written content. Oh, and it’s 100% free. When using Google as your piracy sniffer, be sure to search statistically improbable phrases, first in quotes and then without. Do not run searches on headlines, as plagiarists normally change those.
4. Try a Free Plagiarism Checker
Want to speed up the process? Use a plagiarism checker. Copyscape does the job well. It generates a list of possible copies of your work once you enter a URL or paste some text. There is a free and paid version. The free version only brings up 10 results, though, which may not be suitable for everyone. A search costs you 5 cents using the paid version.
Plagium is another good option. It’s free and provides unlimited results. In fact, it is a lot like Copyscape in that you also paste text or a URL to get results. However, it is based on Yahoo rather than Google, so the results populated are usually different. If you don’t like either of these services, there are several other free plagiarism checkers.
5. Use a Paid Plagiarism Detector
Free checkers can certainly help you spot plagiaristic activities. But if you’re a serious publisher or inbound marketing specialist who can’t afford to be humiliated, it’s a good idea to use a paid service.
Whereas free services only crosscheck your text against search engine results, paid services check books, journal articles, subscription sites, and more.
Paid services test written content vigorously and have better filtering capabilities. What does this mean for you, the esteemed inbound marketer or copywriting agency?
It means that the copy you distribute and publish will be always be 100% original. It also means that you won’t be embarrassed and sued. It is worth investing in a paid plagiarism checker.
6. Scan It with a Plugin
If you’re pressed for time and the content writing you outsource is for your own website or blog, installing a plugin can save some time and effort. WordPress Plugins like “Plagiarism” and “Proofread Bot,” for example, will check your posts and pages for duplication at the click of a button once installed. They’re free. Installation is quick and easy.
The downside is that, like other free online detection tools, these plugins only check your text against results within search engines. They cannot run a detailed, comprehensive search, which still leaves your just written content open to theft and your pocket open to losses. Nevertheless, they can be very useful and convenient.
7. Test the Writer
A reliable way to check if writing has been ripped off is to test the freelance writer. You simply call them up or hold a conference and discuss the subject matter to determine how familiar he or she is with the material.
Ask specific questions and you’ll soon know if it’s original. This is a technique that educators use to detect plagiarism. It works.
You may only want to employ this tactic if other methods have failed and/or you are still suspicious, since it could potentially cause problems and lose you a good copywriter.
Perhaps the best approach is to make contact with the content writer and explain that you are having trouble understanding some of the concepts. Ask for clarity.
Have you ever outsourced content to writers and then discovered that it was plagiarized? How do you check your just written content for plagiarism? Let us know in the comments.