09 Mar 2015

How to Identify Plagiarism

identify-plagiarismI am the victim of theft.

As a matter of fact, I am the repeated victim of content theft.

Since becoming a blogger, writer and content provider, my work has been stolen a number of times.

Sometimes this has been by individuals taking credit on a personal basis for my work. More often it has been by content mining programs that steal random work with decent page views and posts them on another site.

Using aggressive SEO tactics and shady link building practices, these new sites would gain a lot of traffic very quickly. Sometimes that would even knock you, the original creator of the content, out of your search ranking.

This trip was a very roundabout way of introducing the topic at hand: plagiarism.

How to Identify Plagiarism

At a time when many of us are working remotely with people we will never meet face to face, how can you identify forgeries and stolen content, before you put it on your site and end up penalized for it? There are some tools you can use to check for duplicate content, whether you are the content provider protecting their work, or the person who is purchasing it for their own website.

Use Google Exact-Match Search


The easiest way is the most up front, and that is just to Google the article. Not the entire thing (you can’t), but random sentences throughout.

I usually take a sentence from the center of a random major paragraph, and put it in with quotations. If it is a direct match, I will get the original source if came from. If there are no hits, I will remove the quotes and search a second time. If it is close to something that comes up with just small variations, that is a hit.

How to Identify Plagiarism

You would be shocked at how often people just copy/paste into a doc and call it their own. Cheap content providers are notorious for it, because they assume you won’t check until it is too late and you have gotten a warning about it. At which time they will be long gone with the money you shelled out.

Here are more tricks on identifying duplicate content using Google: 4 Quick Ways To Check For Duplicate Content

Use Google Reverse Image Search


When you have to deal with robots, it’s easier. The copy-paste your content verbatim. Most of them no longer have a chance with Google because the search engine got smarter with identifying the original. If that’s not the case, you can request Google to remove the stolen content from the search engine. It is a surprisingly easy process and Google was reported to have received and processed 6 million DMCA complaints per week (345 million per year) back in 2014.

But how to find an article if it has been partially stolen or paraphrased?

If that’s something you’d be willing to go ahead and do right now, try Google reverse image search. Simply put your original image URL in Google and look for more places where that image has been used.

Google by image search results

Here are more tools to do reverse image search and here are more ways to use reverse image search in marketing.

This is a great search trick: If you fond people using your image and quoting your work without giving you a proper credit, you can always contact them nicely and ask to link to the original. In many cases, that works!

Conclusion

It isn’t always easy to protect your work, or to ensure the integrity of other people’s work you post with full rights or permission. But these tools give you at least some control, and help to avoid the pitfalls of posting anything on the open web.

Do you know of any good tools or tips for detecting plagiarism? Let us know in the comments!

“Let’s get to basics” series: