CREATING GREAT CONTENT SERIES
This series is about giving small and solo law firms the information and tools to create amazing content for their own websites to gain more organic traffic, help potential clients, and rise in the Google rankings.
Part 6 – PLAGIARISM AND SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION)
Plagiarism. It’s NOT what you think it is! In many cases, law firms make simple mistakes that cause the Google bots to think the content on their website is plagiarized!
Learn how to make sure you don’t make these simple mistakes!
Some of the resources I visited about in today’s episode include the following:
Note: Link to websites may include affiliate links, in which I would receive a small fee or reward for the referral. However, please know I only provide referrals for companies and services I either use myself or believe in strongly.
Hello, again, welcome. We are on the very last show of this series. But stay till the end because I have a huge surprise for you!
So today, we are in the sixth part of a series called CREATING GREAT CONTENT. And we have already talked about how to find really good topic ideas. We’ve talked about keywording. We’ve talked about internal and external linking and formatting. We’ve talked about all the things, it’s awesome. I hope that you guys have gotten a lot of value out of this series. But we have to talk about something now, that is very rampant throughout the internet. And frankly, a lot of people don’t even realize that they’re doing it.
And that is plagiarism. Now, everyone knows that normal plagiarism where you just go to someone else’s website and copy, and then come to your website and paste. We all know that that’s wrong. And there’s no way to justify it. And it’s bad for everything, right? It’s bad for SEO, it’s bad for the other person who is your competitor, it’s bad for your website. It’s bad ethics. It’s just bad all around. So I know that most people understand that.
What they may not know is that plagiarized content includes much more than just simply copying and pasting something from someone else’s website. And we’re gonna get into that in just a minute. But the first thing that I really want to explain is how plagiarized content affects and impacts your law firm’s website. plagiarized content, first of all, it will add no value to your website. So if you are tempted to do this, and go to someone else’s website that is maybe your biggest competitor that you’re super crazy jealous of. And you decide to go and grab all their content and put it on your website. But include your law firm’s name at the end, it will absolutely add no value to your website. And you can give your thanks for that two plagiarism checker tools.
So there are plagiarism checker tools. And I will link to some of them in the show notes. Some of them are free, and some of them are paid, but they are very inexpensive. And with the introduction of these plagiarism checker tools, it gave everyone on the entire internet the ability to see whether or not their own content is being plagiarized and stolen and put on other websites. And it also gives people the ability to make sure that the content that they write is not plagiarized, either intentionally or unintentionally. So the reason it doesn’t give any value to your website, is because it’s very similar to intellectual property infringement. And Google punishes those websites that have plagiarized content.
Google wants to see content that is fresh, unique, valuable and authentic on websites. And while the Google bots are not our robot overlords quite yet, they are very, very smart. And if they see that one website has duplicative content from another website, they will penalize frankly, both websites to be honest with you, which is why it’s a terrible idea, not only for you, but also for the other person’s website as well. And plagiarism, unfortunately, is very, very rampant throughout the internet. But if you choose to plagiarize, you are really putting yourself in a position that is going to do you absolutely no good for Google.
So even small snippets of content can be considered plagiarism. And while we all know that it’s absolutely wrong, to claim that content is yours when it is not, a lot of people don’t understand exactly how much actually translates to being plagiarized. So if you use some of these plagiarism tools, they will tell you where the content from your website or the content that you’ve created shows up on other websites, and it will give you a percentage in most times, so it will say 10% of this content is on this other particular URL link or 3%.
While there is some debate about exactly how much content is considered enough to be negative for Google, the industry-standard seems to say 3%. So if you have a personal injury article about car accidents, you are likely going to be using a lot of similar terms as the hundreds or 1000s of other personal injury law firm websites that are out there, you’re going to be using terms like lost wages, compensation, types of injuries, maybe even traumatic brain injury, Google understands that you are using the same words, it’s whether or not those words are placed in the exact same sequence that makes it plagiarism for Google. And Google does see that 3% or more. Industry-standard pretty much says that that’s about the amount that you want, and no more than that.
One thing that often trips, small and solo law firms up is that they will quote statutes or pieces of law from either state statutes, federal statutes, different governmental organizations. And when you are quoting anything, whether that’s the insurance limits that are required for car insurance in your state, or if you are quoting specific federal bankruptcy statutes, Google will see that same quote, other places, because it’s a statute or a law.
My suggestion is to never actually, quote, any kind of statute or law in your law blog articles simply because it will create a higher percentage of plagiarism. So that would be one of my major tips where people do not believe that they are plagiarizing. But Google is just not smart enough yet to understand that certain pieces of content are just taken from authoritative pieces of content. Sometimes it is, sometimes it does understand that, but my best practice is to never do it. Because you just never want to have your hard work on an article go to waste. Because you ended up quoting something that Google does not recognize, for some reason is a statute or an authoritative source. So it does take a little bit of effort to avoid plagiarism. But that’s the first tip that I would give.
The second tip that I would give is to make sure that you look into one of these plagiarism tools. And before you actually place anything on your website to run it through. A lot of times plagiarism will happen inadvertently. There are phrases that law firms have a tendency to use the most experienced lawyer or other types of terms regarding contingency fees or wills versus trusts whatever you are talking about. Probably some other law firm has talked about it on their website as well. So you may be inadvertently plagiarizing without even ever knowing it. You’ve never even seen this other website.
And yet, one of these plagiarism checker tools will say that your article has four or 5% plagiarism. So it’s very important to spend just a little bit of time. And frankly, my best advice is just a little bit of money. my very favorite plagiarism checker tool is called Copyscape. And I will link to that in the show notes. It’s very inexpensive, but it’s considered the gold standard regarding plagiarism on the internet. And you really want to make sure that not only are you creating original content but that Google thinks that your content is also original because if your website is dinged by Google in, in the Google box view as having plagiarism, there are some serious consequences.
And it will dramatically impact your overall SEO score and your page rankings and your domain authority and everything. So you really do not want to take a shortcut regarding plagiarism. And it really is very inexpensive and quick to copy and paste your article and place it into Copyscape.
While we’ve talked about one inadvertent way to plagiarize, which is to copy statutes or authoritative sources. Another way you could inadvertently plagiarize is called patchwriting. And this is a writing technique in which you are basically rewriting content from another site. This is sort of to be honest with you, the lazy man’s way of writing about something, there is even software out there that can spin content that already exists into new content. And I will not be linking to that in the show notes, because it’s terrible. But if you are tempted to use a cut and paste policy, and use some of these rewriting tools, and do some sort of patchworking. to rehash or rewrite someone else’s posts, it is true that your words will be different than their words.
But Google is smart. And we have found in the digital marketing industry that it can tell when you are cutting and pasting and just switching enough words around that you are passing a plagiarism checker, but that you truly did plagiarize that content. I want to also talk about what this does for the other law firms’ website. It’s a two-way street. And when you are copying content from another law firms website, not only are you putting a negative impact on your own SEO efforts, and potentially even facing a plagiarism charge, if the law firm finds out that you plagiarize their site, you are also potentially harming their site as well.
In some cases, Google for whatever reason, can’t tell which site had the content first. So it negatively impacts both sites. So that is, in my mind, really unethical, you really are not going to get any benefit from plagiarism. And not only will it harm your site, but it’s going to harm someone else who’s done the hard work or frankly paid a lot of money to a digital marketing agency to do the hard work for them to impact their SEO and their traffic. So take the time to make sure that you are not just cutting and pasting and rewriting. So those are some ways that you can avoid plagiarism from other websites.
But here’s the thing, you can also self plagiarize. And this is a huge problem for SEO. Now, we all have a voice of our own. And the way that I write is probably different than the way that you write. And you may notice if you start to write a lot of articles for your own website, that your articles have a similar tone to them. And that’s simply because that is your voice. The problem is if you are an estate planning attorney, and you’re always writing about estate planning, you may inadvertently self plagiarize, which is exactly what it sounds like. You’re taking content that you’ve already written, and you’re rewriting it.
Now, you may be doing this intentionally, I hope not. Or you may more likely be doing it unintentionally. And you may think, look, I can’t possibly plagiarize myself. I’m writing about different topics. And plagiarism is just taking credit for someone else’s work, but you can steal your own ideas and your own words. And that internal duplicative content on your website is terrible for your SEO.
So if you are going to start writing content for your law firm’s website, and you have different practice areas, it’s going to end up that you’re going to write 20-30 pages, maybe on the same topic. And while you want to make sure that your keywording is different, you also want to make sure that the actual language in those articles is different also.
Now, it’s important not only for plagiarism, and you can check that through plagiarism checkers, you can check your own article against another article that you’ve written through that tool Copyscape that I talked about earlier. But you can also confuse Google, because Google is not going to know what page to put in their index if you have two articles that are similar, and then also have duplicative words and content.
And frankly, Google may choose the wrong page to rank for a keyword that you didn’t intend. So let’s talk about a specific example. Let’s say you handle mass tort lawsuits. And you write an article regarding how your law firm can represent people that are harmed by a certain drug, let’s call it drug z. And you optimize that particular article to rank for the longtail keyword, drug z Lawsuit Lawyer.
And then let’s say later, you write another blog post on the current status of drug z, within mass tort cases and litigation. And you copy and paste certain parts of your first article into the second article, either directly, or you copy and paste it and change some of the words around just a little bit. Google can see both of these articles then and then become really confused because it doesn’t know which page to rank for the search term that longtail keyword, drug z Lawsuit Lawyer.
So it doesn’t need to happen. Because, first of all, you need to make sure that you never copy and paste anything, not only from someone else’s website, but from your own website, because it really will confuse Google don’t write similar pages at similar timeframes. What do I mean by that, if you are going to write about drug z, wait a month or two to write about that same type of drug and your law firm’s representation. If you give Google enough time, between two articles that are similar, even though the content is virtually the same, or is discussing the same subject, it will, first of all give you enough time between the first article and the second article to perhaps come up with new language inherently independently and organically. But also it shows Google that these two articles are longer in space and time.
The next thing you always want to do is start with a blank slate, you never want to copy and paste an article and then start rearranging topics. And while that may be really tempting, it’s just not a great idea. The next thing you want to make sure to do is think about different ways to actually write about similar content. So if you are a car accident attorney, you may not know exactly how to write about something in 1000 different ways. I would highly suggest that you go back to the earlier podcast where we talked about finding great content ideas, to really look at other websites, other competitors and using different tools to find content, to just make sure that the content on your website wallet is all about a particular practice area of law, that it’s all original enough that Google doesn’t see your own articles as competing with each other or frankly, cannibalizing each other for keywords or, or for your content itself.
It’s very important as well to really understand how any type of plagiarized content from another website or from your own website can cause you problems with SEO, because not only can you drop in the Google rankings, your entire site can be banned, depending on how serious your plagiarism issue is.
And then you will have no chance of ranking at the top of Google and frankly, that’s it’s just not worth it. You will lose the opportunity of gaining organic traffic and losing the momentum that your website has already gained online. And it’s just not worth it. So my best suggestion to you is always start with a clean slate. Do not copy and paste from other websites. Be very careful if you are quoting or citing any types of statutes or laws. And the very most important thing that I can suggest is to use a plagiarism checker my very favorite is called Copyscape. And again, I will link to that in the show notes.
There’s one last thing I want to talk about. If you are writing your own content for your law firm website, I’m not talking to you right now, I want to talk to the people that are considering hiring a digital marketing agency to write content for them. Please make sure if you are considering hiring any kind of content marketer or digital marketer to write your content for your website, at the end of the day, the responsibility is on you. And make sure that whoever you hire to write your content is reputable. And frankly, I would suggest, at least in the first or second month that you hire someone that you take that extra step without them even knowing and run their content through a plagiarism checker, just to see if you are truly getting what you pay for. Because you may not have the time or the inclination to write your own content. And that is fine. Frankly, this is what I do for a living. So I write content for small and solo law firms. But I have seen time and time again, small law firms hiring, content marketers and digital marketers that simply are not as ethical as they claim to be.
So if you make the decision to hire a digital marketing agency, I would strongly recommend that you run their content that they provide to you in a plagiarism checker. And I will just say that unfortunately, this happens a lot, not only with very inexpensive content and digital marketers, but unfortunately, with larger marketing agencies as well, it’s very important to know that the content that you are placing on your website is not only adding value for potential clients that are looking for answers, but that it is truly what you want to gain more visibility online, increase your digital footprint and be a part of a holistic SEO strategy. And the only way to get better search engine rankings and to get to that top page of Google is through quality content that is unique.
So I hope that these tips that I’ve mentioned today regarding plagiarism will help you have a plagiarism-free website. And if you ever have any questions, you’re more than welcome to reach out to me and I would be more than happy to discuss that with you.
And in the meantime, remember how at the very beginning of this episode, I said that there was going to be a special surprise at the end.
Well, here it is, the series is over. But you are not going to want to miss the next episode. Because the next episode is almost like a bonus addition to this creating great content series, the next episode is going to be how to repurpose your content in dozens of different ways so that you can work smarter and not harder and take this piece of content that you have worked so hard on that you have keyworded and have internal and external links that you formatted correctly and that you’ve made sure is not plagiarized and disseminated throughout all of social media, through your email list and into different formats so that you can really repurpose it in such a way that you get so much traction out of one piece of content.
And I know you’re not gonna want to miss that. So hit subscribe and make sure to tune in next time to the Legal Marketing Lounge.