This past week, a story has been circulating online about a blogger in Missouri whose work was plagiarized by a local newspaper. On his blog, Duane Lester covered a hot news topic that drew the attention of the Oregon Times Observer in Oregon, MO. Ten days after the post went live; it appeared in its entirety in the Observer. However, it was published without Lester’s consent and no credit was attributed to him or his web site for the article. After confronting the newspaper, Lester was paid $500 for his article and did not pursue legal action. Despite the notoriety and controversy this particular story has created, this classic example of plagiarism is quite common online.
Many Internet marketing companies emphasize the importance of blogs as they provide the opportunity for individuals or businesses to deliver unique, original and relevant content to their viewers and potential customers. Unfortunately, as evidenced by Duane Lester’s aforementioned ordeal, bloggers are often a target for plagiarizers. Recently however, Google introduced two crucial algorithm changes that may help to significantly reduce plagiarism online. The Panda and Penguin updates are intended to locate and penalize duplicate content on the web, which is actually beneficial to bloggers, copywriters and other creators of original, high-quality content. By diminishing the rankings of pages that feature duplicate content, the updates coincidentally act as a deterrent to content lifters.
Although Panda and Penguin are not specifically designed to combat internet plagiarism, they certainly make it more difficult to use stolen content to boost rankings in the SERPs. Combined, the two updates have already affected roughly 15% of organic search results and future updates are planned that are likely to eliminate even more duplicate content. Going forward, bloggers and copywriters should continue to carefully monitor their content and search rankings. The Google updates may help to rid the internet of plagiarism, but like Duane Lester, creators will always have to remain diligent in order to protect their property, both on and offline.