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Authors’ Original Content: Six Key Things to Know to Avoid a Lawsuit and Get Found by Google

I remember a newsroom meeting back in 1999 or 2000 at CBC TV in Vancouver, Canada, where yet another round of restructuring was being announced, along with its attendant layoffs.

“Content is going to be the next big thing,” said the station executive I no longer remember. “Everybody is going to want content, and we are going to figure out a way to get it to them.”

It all sounded like gobbledy-gook then. Content? Whaddya mean?

Almost 20 years later the Internet, social technology, and our own voracious content consumption habits mean that every minute – every MINUTE – there are more than 1440 new WordPress posts, 3.3 million Facebook posts, and 500 hours of YouTube video. You get the picture. Some studies suggest the volume of content available online is doubling every 9 to 24 months. Probably faster.

And it all is supposed to be original content.

1. What Original Content Means for the Author

The content you create as an author in your efforts to market your website, author services, or your book(s) must compete with a gazillion other pieces of content. It also needs to be original when compared to your own content. Unless you are sharing or giving away a free copy of a chapter in your book, the blogs you are creating in the same subject category as your book also need to be original. And, everything you create has to be engaging, interesting, capable of being indexed by search engines, and found. And, overstating the obvious, original.

2. The Definition of Original Content

The content published by the average writer or blogger has already been mentioned in one way or the other elsewhere. It likely won’t have the same angle, view, opinion, or precise combination of words. While researching this blog, I read plenty of other blogs written about original content and content marketing, for example. I’ve read and absorbed what others have said on the topic, but this blog is, I guarantee it, 100% original.

The important factor to consider when you are publishing content is to make sure it does not exist anywhere in cyberspace in the same form. If you slip up and happen to copy something written by someone else, even by mistake, you could end up in copyright trouble or facing a lawsuit. No one wants that.

You can use online tools such as Copyscape to help verify the 100% uniqueness of such content, at least in terms of what is already published online. It won’t help determine whether another author back through time may have written the words in print form that has yet to be digitized. This is important for legal copyright considerations.

You can also check out this guide on plagiarism, written more for the education context, but applicable nevertheless.

In the case of online content, this also matters for search engine optimization, or SEO. A duplicate piece of content that is newer than the original version posted elsewhere online may not even be listed by Google or other search engines. The older versions take precedent.

3. How to Create Original Content

If you haven’t thought specifically about this before, in this way, here are some ideas to help you create the original content that is so key to your content marketing efforts.

Different Point of View

Relate your vision of the subject matter from a unique point of view. A different perspective can create brand-new ideas and result in the creation of original, or at least unique, content.

Your Opinion

It’s likely that you have an opinion that is separate and unique from many others on the subject at hand. Although you may not be alone in what you believe or say, the compendium of your thoughts may be unlike any other previously written. Therefore, you certainly have an opportunity to manufacture original content from your opinion.

Enhance the Perspective of Others

It is possible to improve upon what has already been written elsewhere. I’m not talking about simply rewriting content. Try renovating the explanation and manner of presentation with new and fresh content. Add original ideas and concepts to produce a piece that is undoubtedly unique and original.

Put it in Your Own Words

Especially if you write nonfiction, like I and most of our authors do, you’ll often be consulting the research or other written work of others. Of course it’s important to provide the proper citations, references, or recognition.

You’ll also want to take care that you repackage into your own words those concepts and ideas you want your readers to know about… when they’ve been addressed by another author before you. Try this: after you read through your research, close your eyes. Then write what you understand about the material without the temptation to copy even the slightest phrase.

4. Not Worth Publishing Unless Original

The Internet’s major search engine, Google, designates the quality and uniqueness of content as a highly consequential factor in its SEO algorithms. You’ll hinder your own efforts to get your information in front of your intended audiences when you fail to recognize that organic search makes up nearly two thirds of all search engine traffic.

Original content carefully produced will garner the attention of Google, and then those you want to read it. It’s this type of content that points back to you, the author, as an expert and thought leader in your subject area. Readers will gladly spread the word about such content and the website upon which it is posted.

5. Why Original Content Makes a Difference

Original content makes a significant difference for the following reasons:

Google Ranking

As the search engine crawls the page and determines its contents, its algorithms make a judgment as to the originality/uniqueness of the content. Google may ignore the page or send it much farther down in its rankings if this same information can be found easily elsewhere.

Human Response

Non-original content has virtually zero chance of going viral. Others have read this type of information before and in the same or similar form. It’s essential to provide substantive, unique and engaging content for a positive human response.

People like to share information that makes a difference to them and what truly helps them solve a problem. Your content must make a difference and be distinguishable from what they can find so easily on other websites.

This also holds true in the arena of social media marketing. Content you display through social media must grab the attention and make a difference to your readers.

We must consider human response and SEO together as regards to original content. You produce highly valuable content when you maximize both factors.

6. The Nuances of Original Content

The originality of your content helps distinguish your brand from others in the marketplace – both online and off-line. If your brand is unique and your ideas are sound and original, you can produce original content.

You must find your own corner in the digital universe. This is essential if you want to separate yourself from the pack. Use original stories, unique angles on solutions, and content that engenders thought and curiosity in your creation and publishing strategy. Do this, and you’ll be on your way to ensuring you deliver consequential, original content.

About the Author Boni Wagner-Stafford

Boni is co-founder of Ingenium Books and an author, editor, and ghostwriter. She also manages communications and media for the Alliance of Independent Authors. As an award-winning former Canadian television reporter, news anchor, producer, and talk show host, working under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray, Boni covered politics, government, the economy, health, First Nations, and crime. She won several Canadian Association of Broadcaster (CAB) awards and a Jack Webster Award for best documentary. Boni also held senior management roles in government, leading teams responsible for editorial, issues management, media relations, strategic communications planning. Boni is co-author of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Start, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up.

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