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The Challenges of Original Content in Today’s Changing World

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Everyone knows Google frowns on duplicated content — so much so it will ban your website from search results if it finds you in violation. Google calls it “scraping” which means copying content from other authoritative websites to bolster the importance of yours. Not only does this rankle the Google gods, it also infringes on the laws of copyright, some of which may be strongly enforced.

One aspect of my daily work involves researching and editing the articles on one client’s website. In response to a steep drop in their search rankings some time ago, the client hired me to ensure their content is truly original material, meaning not plagiarized, borrowed or replicated in any number of devious ways. Repeatedly, I find that most of what has been submitted to this client under the guise of fresh, new writing is actually copied from a variety of other websites in scrambled sentence order, which does not, in fact, make it original. It is plagiarized content no matter how you slice it or dice it.

To quote Google’s Webmaster Tools document describing such violations:

“Sites that copy content from other sites, modify it slightly (for example, by substituting synonyms or using automated techniques), and republish it…” are examples of “scraped” or duplicated content. 

“It’s worthwhile to take the time to create original content that sets your site apart.”

Because of this, my role then changes from editor to writer, one who must produce a legitimate article based on the existing factual information but presented in a new, more inspired and more interesting way. Having had this job for many months, we have seen this client’s Google search rankings inch up the lists of results, baby step by baby step, so that many of this website’s hundreds of pages have now improved from the obscurity of page 20 to the triumph of page one. Oh, the rewards of Google’s appreciation. We couldn’t be happier!

Original Content at Risk of Extinction?

However, I must say that this need for unprecedented content has brought me to a new realization. One of the most original representations of every living human being is something which is tragically disappearing into oblivion. What is it? Our signature! Our handwritten reproduction of our names, applied with pen on paper. Differing from that of everyone else alive, like our fingerprints, our dental records and our DNA, our personal signature is our brand, our logo, our own private trademark. But in today’s world, a person’s signature has diminished in importance, until one day in the not-too-distant future, it will no longer be a force in our world at all.

This is sad. My own signature, like my father’s and many of some of my most colorful and accomplished clients, is reminiscent of a unique inscription — beautiful, unusual and artistic. A great signature reflects character, poise, confidence. Something that has developed, ripened, and aged as a result of a lifetime of experience. And while it varies ever so slightly from one rendering to the next, it is something which cannot be easily forged with exact precision. Somehow, its authenticity is always there.

What happens to the art of signing one’s name if it ceases to be performed? During my many years of running my business, my signature matured into a flourish of style after repeated applications on company payroll, of all things. Prior to our online existence, actual checks were actually signed by an actual person with an actual pen. How prehistoric! Yet, that handwritten endorsement reproduced in hundreds of repetitions symbolized one of the most personal characteristics of my being. A tribute to the very essence of my life — a graceful execution of manual acrobatics, elegance and creativity.

Is it like riding a bicycle? Once you get the feel for it, you never forget how to do it? Unfortunately, as we age, so too does our tendency toward arthritis, a stiffening of the joints which can occur at any time from our early 20s on. Stop doing something for a long enough time and watch how the physical handicaps prevent smooth execution on next attempt. This is true with most actions including playing golf, playing the piano or just plain walking.

In college I used to exult over being able to record every word my professors uttered in chicken-scratched notes so tiny you could hardly decipher them, but somehow I did. This contrasts dramatically with my present state of affairs where I find it hard to take a few random notes while on the phone because my carpal-tunnel-afflicted, mouse-abused hand seizes up in painful cramps so I can hardly write at all. And don’t ask me to read what it says later!

Other than some technologies whose operation encourage a veritable disco of the thumbs, proficiency at the keyboard, both musical and computer, is what has saved the day for me. But signing my name? Certainly a remnant of yesteryear. With its significance almost gone and rarely ever required, I cannot believe that some institutions still require physical travel to a bank so a notary can witness the signing of a document of legal import or monetary value. Seemingly the vestigial remains of a time long past, like the milk box, the phone booth and the rolodex – isn’t it time we moved on?

Let’s face it, we are in the throes of the most advanced time in our culture where a whole new world has unfolded in a matter of a heartbeat. Life has been reduced to a digital monarchy where intellect is emperor and content is king. And originality certainly is one of our noblest aspirations. Beyond noble, it is what is expected of us. Whether it claims a place in cyberspace for a mere nanosecond or for all of eternity, it is the quintessential truth the world deserves of us. After all, if our name will be attached, the computerized equivalent of our proverbial signature, shouldn’t it be the best it can be? While it may not be “etched in stone,” it is probably tomorrow’s closest replica.

About the author

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Marilyn Bontempo

Marilyn Bontempo, president of Mid-Hudson Marketing, based in Holmes, New York, has been developing strategies for business success for more than 45 years. A professional writer and graduate of Bard College, she has won numerous awards for excellence in marketing, photography, graphics, writing and web design. As a specialist in branding, she assists many of her clients with management of their social media and public relations initiatives. In addition, she handles e-commerce for a number of online merchants not only on their own websites but through eBay, Amazon and others. View her work at https://www.midhudsonmarketing.com

7 Comments

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  • Quality original content and favored by search engines, so otherwise would jeopardize website duplicate content in the search engine rankings as well

  • Nice article Marilyn! Everyone knows that content is king and all Panda updates are related to content so it’s necessary to have unique and fresh content on websites.

  • Thanks for sharing this article. very informative. Unique and quality content is a must nowadays

  • Google requires New, Original Content for SEO , which has the world producing New and Original Content , exponentially. I once possessed real money, now I have digital currency. New and Original Content is Digital Currency in this Brave New World.
    Thanks for the currency … Creativity is the currency that smart people convert. Energy is never lost only transformed. Great thoughts, thanks.

  • Original content in a website article writing is very necessary especially with the latest update to the Google algorithm

  • With the current rate of which content is generated online, it would be very hard to be “unique” in the near future.