Entrepeneurs, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Please Don’t Plagiarize

So this is a bit of a different post for me.  It’s more of my personal experience as a marketing professional who is promoting content marketing as a method for improving SEO and reaching your target audience.  But I have to write this post because as someone who is creating original content, the situation I experienced just doesn’t sit well with me.

A month ago, I was talking to a web designer who was just starting out in their web design business.  I wanted them to help me improve my WordPress website and build a page to showcase some of the work I’ve previously done.  I clearly told her I was a marketing consultant, which would imply that I’m familiar with marketing.

She began telling me about her digital marketing services in addition to her web design work and she touched on the topic of blogging.  She mentioned that I should be blogging to help with SEO.  Of course, she wasn’t aware of the fact that I also try to blog on a regular basis.  I told her I would check out her previous work on her webpage so that I can figure out if she’d be a good fit for the work I needed on my website.

original website content

Well, I checked out her website and I was disappointed.  Why?  It wasn’t her portfolio that was disappointing.  It wasn’t her layout or her graphics.  As you can probably guess from the title of my post, what disappointed me was that she had PLAGIARIZED another company’s blog post.

And it was pretty obvious because it was the ONLY blog post on the website.

Maybe it wasn’t intentional, you say, maybe it was a mistake.  Maybe you’re asking yourself, how did Michelle know it was plagiarized?  Because of several reasons:

  • I had read the blog post a few months ago and recognized the content.  I remembered it clearly because I thought the post was awesome for mentioning that creating a slide deck for Slideshare is a great way to improve your SEO.
  • When I copied and pasted some of the text into Google, the original article that I had read appeared, word for word.
  • No attempt was made to alter the article in any way.  It was 100% the same article when I went through and matched it.
  • The original author information was not included on this website designer’s version of the post.  There was no reference to where the original content had come from.

I’m not sure about you but I was appalled that someone was trying to past someone else’s work as their own.

What was even worse, the web designer/digital marketer was promoting themselves in experts in SEO and digital marketing when they clearly DID NOT understand that stealing other people’s content is not acceptable.

In the end, I told her that I was not interested in her web services and that our values were not aligned.  I told her that I checked out her blog and that it was not acceptable to be passing off other people’s content as their own.  It may have been an innocent mistake on her part but there was no further conversation about it.  She read my message and didn’t say anything after that.

Was she unaware of how to properly cite a source for web content?  Perhaps.  If that’s the case, I would have accepted an apology and an admission of wrongdoing, as well as the fact that I would expect her to properly credit the post.  But she didn’t do any of that.  I’m a big believer that we learn from our mistakes.  How we handle our mistakes also tells us a lot about a person.

interview potential marketing companies

So for those of you who are looking to hire help with your marketing, I implore you to dig deeper.  Interview the person you are thinking of hiring and find out more about them.  Look at their website, look at their blog.  Ask for references.  As someone who’s also just starting out, I’m still building my business and still accumulating examples of my work, so I understand the amount of hard work and difficulty that’s required.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to copy someone else’s work.

To learn about how to properly cite a source, please check out this Hubspot article about how not to steal people’s content on the internet.

Hopefully, no one else in my network has the same type of experience as me.  If you have, please comment below.  I’d love to hear your stories.