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Over the growing number of years spent in Content Development, Management and Curation, I’ve dealt with scores, if not hundreds of incidents of plagiarism.

Not only have I battled with plagiarists turning in ‘artful twists’ of work that overlaps other published sources, but also people who have copied my own writing works across the web.

Truth, integrity and simply giving credit where it’s due are among the tenets of content that we all hold dear in any published form. And any material that does not reflect these essential standards is fundamentally a copyright infringement of the original author’s works.

Again, no two instances of plagiarism are exactly alike, and needs to be dealt separately.

However, there’s one common, recurring theme that remains constant all through these sardonic stages of literary theft.

That is – Cut, Copy, Paste (with artful twists, of course) other peoples work and claiming it as their own.

Here are some common characterizations on why people plagiarize and how one should avoid it-

 

There is No Exact Reason on Why one Plagiarizes

Just few days ago CNN fired its London Bureau employee, a seasoned news editor (with great recommendations) Marie-Lousie Gumuchian for repeated instances of plagiarism that got discovered during a routine editing check.

When confronted on what she had to say?

“Nothing Much”

The good faith that was placed in her had been compromised, and for no apparent reason.

While it’s easy to blame ones personal failings, or making of excuses, much of the confusion seems legitimate. Every person struggles to explain their shortcomings, when confronted, and plagiarism is no different.

 

Unplanned Shortcuts for a Writer

While one doesn’t plan of becoming a plagiarist while starting out with a writing career, there seems to be an ethical lapse on the way, often due to external circumstances.

For instance, one may find it a quick approach to earn extra bucks, or save on their time while researching, or even find help in copying from a great deal of background material. All this then grows into a compulsive habit of ripping off other people’s works, and claiming it as their own.

Simply put, it is a convenient shortcut for a writer, for which he/she even gets rewarded, if not caught.

 

Baking in the Same Mistakes

Once a plagiarist, is likely to be a plagiarist again.

This is not a surprising revelation, as someone who has routinely been submitting copied work that gets paid for, is likely to bake another such piece.

What’s more surprising however, is that they will often continue plagiarizing even after getting caught, may be this time for another client.

Whether to give them a second chance? Nopes…I’d rather steer away from them completely.

 

Getting Caught is not what a Plagiarist Expects

It is appalling to notice what comfort writing can do to a plagiarist.

They often work hard, harder I would say, than most legitimate writers. They will pump up more time, to look up more sources, and then artfully edit and re-edit, working hard to hide their plagiarism. By the time they are done, the piece has often taken more time and effort than a genuine piece of writing.

Moreover, even after we read news after news on incidents of plagiarism surfacing, one still carries on to believe that they will not be caught. They may even risk their reputation as an academic or a seasoned writer.

The reasons for this are many, for they have learned to outsmart Google, get an edge on most plagiarism checker tools, and found a way to convince themselves that they are completely safe – until they are confronted by the revelation.

Bottom Line

While plagiarism is an unsavory act committed like any other breach of trust, there is no clear demarcation on what can be said as an original or genuinely researched material, to a well-drained, tossed and mixed bowl salad of words.

So while the struggle against plagiarism is worth fighting for, every content owner should be aware why the plagiarist would choose to hit the ‘copy’ button for them.

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These are a few of my (and Google’s) favorite things….

Content, Content, Content….

With the release of Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm update, the term “content is king” is in the spotlight again. But, what exactly does this ‘sovereign’ phrase really mean for business and website owners?

 

What Exactly is Content Marketing?

For businesses, having a continuous stream of content that engages its readers and causes an action is critical for doing business.

This means producing relevant content that leads to actions such as newsletter signups, social sharing, online purchases, generating leads, increased phone queries or even physical location walk-ins. That’s why it is said that the key purpose of all content marketing strategy is to ‘persuade a visitor to take an action’.

In addition, effective SEO strategies can be executed only after coming up with new and innovative ways of content generation across all platforms.

Here are five essential ingredients to help develop that winning content marketing strategy:

 

Identify and Write for an Audience, not only Search Engines

When you’re in the process of achieving high rankings, it’s easy to forget that you actually need to communicate to someone.

Whether you’ve consciously thought about it or not, you always write to an audience which can be: sometimes a generic group of readers; sometimes a specific set.

Once you identify and keep your audience in mind, it does more than ensure that you write clearly. It helps you make good decisions about what content to include, how to address them, and how best to organize your information.

For instance, if you were writing for a business consulting site, you would want to use a different set of vocabulary, phrasing and tone that say, if you were writing for a parental website.

The following questions will help you get started on thinking about how to address your audience …

1)      What does your audience believe or already know?

2)      How can you help them?

3)      How do you establish rapport with your audience?

4)      What style of writing, tone, and information would appeal to them?

5)      How do you direct the audience’s attention?

6)      How do you wrap up with them?

Besides, it is important to have a smart content strategy that extends beyond keyword density to include usability, readability and grammar of the content as well.

Businesses who address all of the above will naturally observe increase in their rankings, and more importantly an upward graph towards better leads and a healthy ROI.

Keeping the audience in perspective provides you exactly what search engines love: organic signals on how popular and informative your content is.

 

Embrace Social: Create Content that can be shared on your Social Media Profiles

There is no denying the fact that social media has changed the way we conduct our business. It has changed the way we interact with our clients, potential customers, colleagues and employers.

Social media channels can act as powerful tools for content marketers and business owners who want to drive new readers and relationships.

A post in Social Media Today refers ‘social media’ as a never ending marathon (and not a onetime sprint). Anytime you add new posts to your website or blog, make sure to post it on your social media profiles as well. At the bare minimum you should have a FB page, G+ page and a Twitter handle to share your posts on. Active social profiles act like gleaming billboards that makes it easy for visitors to follow you to your main website.

It is also worthy to have a social sharing tool bar installed to every single post. This gives your visitors the ability to share what they just liked to their own circle of friends. It also serves as a measurement tool to understand how popular your post is.

Although social signals do not carry the same weight as natural high quality backlinks, they do factor in search engine rankings. Just like a good restaurant that serves great food, the authority and activity of your website sharing the content holds more value that the total number of shares.

 

Get Visual with Videos and Info graphics

Psychologists have time and again demonstrated the power of non verbal communication. They say that when presented with visual stimuli, human brain decodes its image elements in a faster, non-sequential way, while text or language is deciphered in a linear, sequential manner, taking more time to process.

This explains the rising popularity of sites such Instagram and Pinterest.

Since we are all thrive on visual cues, using infographics and videos to put content in front of your readers  stimulates a readers neural connections in more ways than one – while allowing you to deliver your message with less effort.

 

Monitor your Analytics and Fine-tune it

To know what content strategies are performing it is important to have a monitoring system in place. Google Analytics tool gives you an effective measurement landscape to understand metrics such as how many conversions are coming from your social pages? Or is the readership growing on your blog? How to identify the most popular content? Which campaigns are fuelling your leads? Is it email marketing or paid campaigns that are more effective.

Monitoring data will help you sort metrics to quickly find low performing pages or campaigns that need improvement, or high performing pages that can be used to guide future designs.

For someone who is not familiar in setting up and using Google Analytics, a free Digital Analytics Fundamental Course from Google can help you get started. Yes it’s free J and even I did it.

 

Be Consistent

As business dynamics change with time, so does the needs of your readers and visitors to your site.

To stay abreast, updating your site with fresh and relevant content is important. If not, in all likelihood your visitors will soon lose interest and not return.

Make sure that content updation and syndication remains consistent regardless of whether you’re doing all of it in-house or hiring an agency to do it.

A heady concoction of these simple tips can help you create than winning formula that increases leads, traffic, conversions and higher rankings.

 

 

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