Copied Content Outranking Your Originals? This Might Be Why
Updated on: 31 March 2021
If there’s anything I learnt as an SEO content writer, it’s this: Always make sure your content is original. Issues of plagiarism aren’t just an issue in academic or journalistic circles; In the realm of digital marketing, copied content can also gravely hurt your SEO efforts.
Generally, copied content is frowned upon because it competes with the original for a spot on the search engine results pages (SERPs). In other words, if Google finds two webpages with identical content, which should it rank first?
When this happens, the search engine has to evaluate the webpages based on other parameters like the overall website authority. If the copied content makes up only a portion of the page, the rest of the content is evaluated to see which is more relevant to the search query.
According to Google, website authority is usually a good gauge of guessing the original author of the content – and Google is able to give credit by ranking the original publisher at a higher position.
However, in some cases, this may not be so. It can be frustrating to find a competitor or random other website taking your content, and outranking your website with it. But why would this happen? Here are some reasons I’ve found that might be the cause:
Copied content may be more relevant
Remember? SEO content marketing is all about creating relevant content that answers user queries. If a website copies content, but also adds on further information that is useful to the reader, Google may decide that this webpage is worth ranking higher than the original post.
Take Google’s own blog posts as an example. When news of a new update is published on Google’s official blog, many other content writers or journalists will take this content and add their own insights to it. They may break down the information into simpler terms, or value-add by adding more examples, illustrations, or explanations.
Due to these added bites of information, the search algorithms might end up ranking the ‘copier’ with a higher position.
Problems with site quality
If you’ve reviewed your original content, and think it looks fantastic – then the problem may lie with your website. Recall that I mentioned Google takes into account website quality to decide which page to rank higher? In some cases, the original poster may end up ranking lower because Google deems its website quality as subpar.
The problem with this is that Google did not provide any clear measurements of what constitutes ‘site quality’. But having your website being outranked by copied content is a strong signal that you need to relook into some things.
What to do if your content has been copied
Now, like you, my next question naturally was: What should I do if someone copies my content? As you may have realised, not all copying is the same – and the actions you take in response to it will vary.
Here’s what you can do if you find your content being copied and outranking your website:
Escalate the issue legally
If someone has stolen your content, passing it off as their own, you can lodge a formal request to have them take it down. One way is to apply for a DMCA takedown notice, which will require the offender to remove all copied content from their site. Do note that this is a legal process, and you might be asked to provide evidence that you are the rightful owner of the content.
Also, this procedure is not without costs and administrative hassle. More crucially, it is a reactive measure rather than a preventive one – the copying may very well happen again.
Improve your content
If there’s anything we can learn from Google’s case, it is that useful and relevant content is king. Check if the webpages that have taken your content have value-added to it in any way. Are they providing more value to users than your website is doing? That could be a reason why they are outranking your original content.
To win them, you have to one-up them by improving the quality of your content. Keep user intent in mind when crafting your content, and make sure your content answers frequently asked why, how, and what questions.
Evaluate your website
In the event you think your content is already great, then the likely problem is your website itself. Problems with site quality can affect your search ranking, no matter how amazing your content is.
It may be helpful to use an SEO audit tool to assess the performance of your website. These could help you highlight problems like slow page speed, broken links, duplicate titles, or missing meta descriptions that are dragging your page ranking down.
Seeing your hard work get stolen and contributing to another website’s ranking is painful stuff to face, but there’s a key takeaway to gain from this. Sometimes, to solve a problem, we need to look inwards. Compared to waging legal war with every offender, solving issues like low-value content and low-quality websites gives you far more assurance of ranking higher, even if others still copy your content.
Looking for more tips and tricks to upgrade your website content? We can help! Our SEO services in Singapore include content marketing as well as SEO strategising, which aims to help your website maximise traffic, leads, and sales. Have the assurance of a better-ranking website when you work with us!