These days, you need content for your blog on a daily basis. One way to get a little more content, and a little more leeway to write your own content in a longer time frame, is to accept regular guest posts on your blog. You can even pay for guest posts, though you need to remember to nofollow any links included in those posts to avoid a search penalty.
In this scenario, it won’t be uncommon for a user to submit a guest blog post for publication. Before you publish any guest post, however, you should look it over and make sure it’s a good fit.
1: Check on the author. Some authors will be new, with little to their name online. These authors are some you want to be wary about; you never know what their quality or their reputation is. Whenever possible, try to make sure your guest authors are known authority figures in their niches. This helps bring in an audience and makes sure they know their stuff.
2: Limit the number of links they can include. Whenever possible, limit it to a single backlink to their social profile or primary website. Always nofollow guest post links, with the very rare exception that the link is something you would love to promote. Make sure any link in a guest post is a link you’d feel comfortable including in one of your posts.
3: Make sure the content of the post is factually correct and fits with the opinions of your blog as a whole. If you’re writing blogs about how shoe shining is essential for job interviews, you wouldn’t want to publish a guest post about how shoe shining is worthless and you should wear sandals. While you’re at it, proofread the post to make sure it’s grammatically sound.
4: Make sure you own the rights to the content published on your blog. The issue here is that, if you only have use rights or have no rights at all, others can publish the same content and you have no recourse. One or the other party will have to take the post down to avoid a duplicate content penalty.
5: Run the content through Copyscape to make sure it isn’t already published anywhere else. If it is, you have issues and need to have a serious discussion with the guest post author, particularly if they’re an author who has written for you before.
The short answer is that Copyscape is a tool that allows you to upload a piece of text and spits out a report telling you if any of that text is published elsewhere on the web.
The long answer is that Copyscape is a robust tool that checks a large web database for any instances of the content you upload, in whole or in part. It will catch if a blog post you upload has already been published on another site, even if that site is obscure and has little traffic. It will also inform you if a significant portion of your uploaded text has been published, as in the case where the guest author copied two different articles and stitched them together.
Unfortunately, Copyscape will also catch some instances of perfectly benign “plagiarism” with fierce warnings. For example, if you like a blog post and reference it while quoting a specific paragraph, that paragraph will come up as copied content. It’s also possible that you happened to write a sentence on a specific topic only to find someone else wrote a sentence almost identical. This tends to happen in very specific niches, particularly when dealing with medical terminology that can’t be written another way without removing meaning.
There are two great reasons to use Copyscape.
Reason #1: Plagiarism hurts. Copied content is damaging for everyone involved. For you, it means you publish a piece of content on your blog that was previously published. This opens you up to penalties for duplicate content, which can be quite severe. It hurts the original poster of the content, as they become vulnerable to the same copied content penalties. It hurts the author of the content, because they gain a reputation for trying to pass off copied content as original. The only legitimate instance of copied content published without penalty is in-network syndication, where the same article is posted on multiple affiliated blogs for maximum exposure. Even so, in this modern Internet, syndication is losing its value.
Reason #2: The content might be stolen. Much of the above assumes that the author is the original creator of the content and that it has been published on, for example, their blog. It’s always possible, however, that the person is trying to pass off the content as their own, when in fact they copied it directly off another blog. If this is the case, all bets are off; the author might not even be who they claim to be. Finally, there’s also the possibility that you’re paying for the guest post. The absolute last thing you want to do is pay for stolen content; the thief will never return the money without a lengthy legal battle or settlement, and the content is worthless to your site.
Copyscape is a very valuable tool, but it’s not the only available copied content checker online. Sometimes it’s not even the best, simply the most convenient. Copyscape is valuable in particular because it offers an automatic plugin, which can be highly useful for sites that purchase large volumes of ghostwritten content. Here are some Copyscape alternatives.
Plagium: This site allows you to paste in up to 25,000 words and have them automatically checked for free. The site is supported by donations and doesn’t charge for their service.
DupliChecker: Another free alternative, DupliChecker doesn’t require an account, and it allows either pasting content or uploading it in one of several common file formats, including docx.
Plagiarisma: This site has a robust anti-copy algorithm that checks content in several different ways. It also allows you to check content by URL, in case you’ve already published content you’re unsure about.
CopyGator: This service is particularly innovative in that it monitors your RSS feed and checks each piece you publish automatically. If a hit is found, you are notified immediately of the copied content and encouraged to take action.
Dustball: A smaller plagiarism checker, it only allows two checks per day, through text pasted into a submission box. Useful if you don’t have high volume to check.
Plagspotter: This tool isn’t as useful for checking your content for previous duplication. Rather, it’s useful for checking your current website to see if any of its content has been scraped and posted elsewhere. This is a whole other issue to combat, and many of these tools work for the purpose, but this one is one of the best.