If you have a website, and you see something interesting online, do you link to it or just completely lift the content?  What about building out your services page?  Don’t have time, so you’d rather just take your competitor’s content and switch out the business name?  Seems like an easy route, especially since you may think “how the heck would anyway figure this out anyway?”.  Well, you’d be wrong, and search engines and individuals that care about the preservation of their work would know.

Google Webmaster Tools outlines what actions they take for duplicate content , and you can expect other search engines to be doing the same.  Search engine algorithms are extremely complex, so you don’t want to attempt to test duplicate content according to the standards of Google.  Search engine robots can be quite fickle when indexing pages, so if there’s anything out of the ordinary, your site can get penalized almost immediately.  If there’s a surplus of duplicate content all over your site, your site basically gets what I call “the death penalty”, meaning it’s as if your site doesn’t even exist online.

So we know what search engines may do, but what about people?  How would they know?  There’s a solid tool out there by the name of Copyscape that does a great job detecting duplicate content across the web.  I recommend that any website owner and/or webmaster take the time to check the content on their site.  Not only is this is a good opportunity to see if there are any lazy, unscrupulous content writers out there, but it could actually serve a unique way to build relationships.  How so?  If you end up finding a site with some of your content, and then some content from other websites like yours, it is a good opportunity to reach out to them as well and give them a “heads up”.

If you’re like a lot of business owners, and after all this you’re thinking “well I don’t have time to write my own content, I’m a terrible writer, I’m not sure how to add content to my website”, you actually have options that don’t have to be too costly.  You can get your kids to write blogs (joking).  You can contact a digital marketing company that has worked in your industry to take care of that problem, or find a content writer on Odesk or eLance.  There are even websites dedicated to writing content in a freelance setting.  Your options will range greatly in quality and price.  If you’re not sure where to start, contact us over at Market My Market.   We’ve put together content campaigns for small businesses, large corporations, and everything in between in nearly every industry.