Marketers know duplicating web content is an ill-advised practice that will derail their SEO practices. However, it’s important to understand what separates practices like scraping, stitching and curating content if brands are publishing things that draw from resources published online. Matt Cutts discussed the differences between acceptable and punishable practices in the latest Google Webmaster Help Channel video.
Unique content requires more than non-plagiarism
Content writers can certainly draw from existing studies and research, but they must cite their sources, bring fresh perspectives and put relevant spins on that first-hand data to stay on Google’s good side.
Search engines have made it clear that copying information, text or any other original material and pasting it on a new page will not provide any SEO benefit. If not because it could be considered plagiarism, then because it doesn’t add any true value to readers. Take content stitching for example. This is the practice of quoting information from numerous places and giving credit where it’s due, but neglecting to add any original ideas.
“If all you’re doing is just taking quotes from everybody else, that’s probably not a lot of added value … People don’t like to watch a clips show on TV. They want original content,” Cutts explained.
“It is possible to pull together a lot of different sources and generate something really nice, but you’re usually synthesizing.” – Matt Cutts.
“Now, it is possible to pull together a lot of different sources and generate something really nice, but you’re usually synthesizing,” he added, listing Wikipedia as an example. Unlike an example of pure stitching, Wikipedia culls information from various sites and strips away any bias so users theoretically receive just the facts.
Striking the balance between sourcing and stitching
Curation is deeply entrenched in today’s culture, and Brafton has reported Generation C members deem it socially acceptable (if not expected) to piecemeal experiences, ideas and images into a hybrid end-product.
Thus, synthesizing is a content approach that can resonate with readers. Still, content writers must carefully walk this line without stepping over boundaries that users, Google and other search engines consider spammy.
What’s a good check for the difference between stitching and synthesizing?
If 60 percent of a piece (or similar) is heavily researched and cited, make sure there’s an almost equal portion left to analysis.
- Apply a 60/40 rule. If 60 percent of a piece (or similar) is heavily researched and cited, make sure there’s an almost equal portion left for analysis or original tips.
- When reviewing a piece of content, ask what it provides that original sources don’t. For example, if an industry article contrasts two studies, what conclusions can be drawn from diverging data? If a piece quotes an expert and references related data from other sources, does it take a clear stance on whether the data indicates the expert is right?
The reminder from Cutts may be just what marketers need to get ensure they’re investing in smart content writing for 2014.