After all, anyone can take someone else’s writing, paraphrase it, and thereby technically make it unique. There are, however, just one or two teeny-tiny problems with that approach:
- Everyone’s doing it
I call this the “Yeah! What he said…” approach. Face it, if you’re just paraphrasing someone, you’re technically saying the same thing but in a slightly different way, so therefore you’re not actually being all that original, and chances are that other plagiarists on the Web will wind up saying the exactly same thing as you with very minor differences.
These days, Google is getting pretty good at distinguishing between good, bad, and mediocre content. It’s also getting really good at working out who the original author of any given piece is, and will consequently accord less relevance to subsequent restatements of the same facts. Ergo, they’re not likely to rank as well.
- You can wind up looking like a complete idiot
A few years back I was doing a lot of contract writing for the overseas real estate sector, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean market. One day while researching a piece about Ayia Napa online, I stumbled across a choreographer named Leontios Mahaeras, who apparently first made mention of the resort in his chronicle back in 1366. Google was virtually packed with search results proudly proclaiming this fact through endless variations of unique content (see Point A). As I recall, I counted about seventy versions at the time.
But besides the obvious fact that over seventy near-identical pieces were all jostling for top positions about the keyword Ayia Napa, the major problem was that while everyone had obviously copied one original source article, they had done so including every single mistake. For starters, the gentleman in question was actually a chronicler*, his name was Leontios Machairas, and he wrote his chronicle in the 1400s. You can still find some of these original pages online (), though at the last count only six of them remained.
Take it from someone who’s been writing on the Internet for over a decade and a half:
So now that we’ve established that rewording other peoples’ stuff doesn’t count, I’ll give you the parameters for writing unique content.
- Write about what you know about, unless you want to run the risk of your visitors laughing at you because you’re accidentally talking about choreographers or some such.
- Keep it simple, because there’s a good chance not everyone benefits from your technical vocabulary. Take this piece for instance. I could start talking about syntax, verbs, adjective ratios, and the evils of synonyms, but you’re still reading, and I’d like to keep it that way, which neatly brings me to my next point…
- Try to make it interesting. If your reader hits the back button, falls asleep, or resorts to despairing self-harm after a couple of sentences you haven’t achieved anything.
- Stay with your subject. Sure, going off on a tangent can be fun, but unless it’s directly relevant to what you’re writing about it has no place in that particular piece, because you’re in danger of getting your reader’s mental legs in a tangle. And if they get confused they’re likely to go elsewhere in search of better information.
- Last, but certainly not least, whatever you happen to be writing about, say something nobody else has ever said before, or say it in a way nobody’s ever said it before.
At the end of the day, writing unique website content isn’t about getting a thesaurus and substituting all the big words; it’s about doing your research and writing an original, informative, interesting piece that gives your readers what they’re looking for. Yes, it’s a lot more work than simple plagiarism, but the Google ranking-rewards you get for it are likely to be much greater too.
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*The term choreographer didn’t even exist until the 1950s