Want to combat plagiarism better?
Here are three easy ways I snuff plagiarism out at the source to ensure I don’t get the wool pulled over my eyes.
Conduct a thorough site search to see what similar content exists
If someone pitches me a specific topic, I go to their blog and do a site search to see what they’ve already written on that topic.
I click through articles similar to their pitch (e.g. “7 astonishing email marketing tactics” vs. “email marketing tactics every marketer should know!”) and come back to tell that I’m aware they’ve written on the topic before and want to make sure that anything they produce for us is completely unique.
This usually nips an attempt at syndication in the bud.
Syndicated content is a form of plagiarism, usually when a company wants to replicate (see: copy-paste) part of a blog post or a full blog post that is already fully written on their own site onto OUR site.
Even if you authored the original content, copy-pasting it to somebody else’s blog is still plagiarism.
Get Google-savvy to see if the content lives elsewhere
If someone pitches me a full article title, e.g. Satiate Your Hunger: Learn How to Create Digestible Content (this is an actual article on G2), I do a Google search to see what comes up. Frequently, a previously-written blog post will come up from another website.
I recommend doing this for all full-title pitches, but most especially for those with extremely unique, creative, and/or memorable titles.
Often (not always) if you receive a pitch with a full article title in mind, the topic was copied from another website – or the content is syndicated from their own website.
However, if someone pitches something more generic, like “5 Examples of Digestible Content,” you’re likely to encounter a lot of similarly-worded titles on vastly different content. This doesn’t mean that there’s plagiarism afoot; it just means that the topic will need some fine-tuning to come up with a more creative, engaging title for readers. 🙂
Use plagiarism-checking software on full article drafts
Use plagiarism-checking software on the final article drafts. Even if you’ve done steps one and two, things can sometimes slip by.
I use Grammarly Premium and the SEMrush Google Docs plugin to identify copied text. These tools show what percentage of text was copied as well as where the original content came from. While I may not love all of Grammarly’s features, I do love its plagiarism-checking capabilities.
Before I had access to these tools, I was left to my own intuition in identifying plagiarized text. Here are two easy-ish ways to ID plagiarized text without proper software:
- See if the language differs drastically from how they write to you in emails. If it does, chances are this indicates plagiarism.
- Pinpoint weird wording. Like things about their company or language that wouldn’t make sense to live on YOUR site, but might make sense on their site. This would indicate syndication.
And if you suspect either of the above, copy-paste sentences or paragraphs from their article into Google and see what pops up. If you find exact-match text, bingo: plagiarism. If you find similar ideas copied, that’s still plagiarism, just not with exact-match text. I’ll get into that more in a future article.
Anyway, don’t let people make a fool out of you. Keep your standards high, and always be on alert for plagiarism!