Why Google Ranks Plagiarized Content Over The Original?

October 13, 2021 | Content Marketing

Remember that classmate who copied your answers in an exam and scored higher than you?

And the feeling when you find out that your cheater classmate secured a better rank than you in the class?

Well, it isn’t very pleasant.

You get the same feeling when a site plagiarises your content, and Google ranks it higher in the SERPs.

No matter how much time and energy you put into creating high-quality, original content, the copy still ranks higher.

But, why?

Well, this doesn’t imply that your content lacks quality. 

Google ranks plagiarised content over the original for several other reasons.

And that’s what we will learn in this article, along with:

  • What is plagiarized content for Google?
  • How Google ranks plagiarised content?
  • How can original content rank higher on Google?

What Is Plagiarised Content for Google?

In a video, Matt Cutts stated that nearly 30% of the content on the web is duplicated.

Matt Cutts Talks About Ranking Plagiarised Content

According to Google: Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.“

Plagiarised content happens when significant parts of the content are exactly the same or have similarities. 

It might be present on the same site or on different domains. But, it should not have evil or misleading motives. 

For example, you can have your products with the same title and description listed on various e-commerce platforms. 

It is an instance of duplicate content for Google. But, none of the e-commerce platforms will be affected by this.

Now the question is how Google ranks them?

How Google Ranks Plagiarised Content?

Since duplicate content is present all over the web, it alters the search results and hurts Google’s search quality.

So, Google search bots look for pages with identical content and create content clusters.

Google ranks the pages in the cluster according to its ranking factors. While doing so, it removes EXACTLY matching pages from search results.

And sometimes, Google ranks the site with copied content higher than the original publisher in the search results.

But why does that happen?

Why Google Ranks Plagiarised Content Over The Original?

In a Google-SEO office hangouts session, John Mueller answered this question.

John Muller Tells Why Google Favors Copied Content

He revealed that sometimes Google might favor copied or plagiarized content over the original. And the reason he stated was the poor overall quality of the original publisher’s site.

It boils down to one point: Google never compromises on user experience. 

If another site with duplicate information has a higher quality (overall), Google prefers to show it above the original publisher in the search results.

With that, it should be easy for you to gauge that it isn’t just the content but the overall site metrics that influence Google rankings.

So, it’s time to evaluate the overall quality of your site. 

You can work on the problems, enhance your site’s overall quality, and rank higher in search results.

What Makes A Site High Quality (Overall)?

Most people perceive a high-quality website as one with relevant, valuable information and a good user experience. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are multiple individual factors that search engines consider while evaluating a site’s overall quality. It’s the large part that stays underwater, undiscovered. 

A few factors that make your site high quality overall are:

1. Site’s UX

High-quality sites offer an excellent user experience. They focus on delivering the best to their visitors.

User Experience for High Quality Overall

If you want to enhance your site’s UX, here are some points. Your site must:

  • Have a professional, responsive design.
  • Use consistent fonts, colors, alignment, etc.
  • Display clear and easy-to-read text.
  • Offer easy, quick, and logical navigation.
  • Use high-quality images, videos, and graphics.
  • Have a page loading speed of fewer than 3 seconds.
  • Have a clear call to action.

But, don’t restrict yourself to these. There are plenty of other UX improvements you can make. 

Here are some tips to improve the user experience on your site.

2. Backlinks

Backlinks significantly impact the rankings of the original publisher over its duplicate version.

Backlinks for High Quality Overall

Google looks at the number of high-quality backlinks to a site. It considers them as votes for a reliable and trustworthy website.

So, focus on building high-quality backlinks to your site. Here are 17 powerful link-building techniques for your help.

You can use our Free Backlink Analyzer Tool, and it will make backlink analysis a breeze. 

3. Content

As commonly understood, high-quality sites publish valuable content. Their articles and blogs are original, informative, and actionable. 

Content for High Quality Overall

In short, they have a strong content strategy in place. They provide value to their readers and have:

  • A clear focus on the topic
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Authentic and accurate information
  • No grammatical, spelling, or factual errors
  • Valuable images and infographics
  • Well-structured content, etc.

So, if you are committed to valuable content and optimizing for E-A-T, you can boost your site’s overall quality.

4. Transparency

Transparency here refers to the presence of accurate and up-to-date information related to a website. If it is not there, Google considers your site as deceptive and suspicious. 

Here are a few things you can do (like other high-quality sites):

  • Ensure that domain name and business name are similar
  • State your full postal address and contact information clearly
  • Mention key members of your team and their LinkedIn profiles

All these will signal Google to trust your site and rank it better in the SERPs.

5. Online Reputation

Google carefully monitors what people say about your site, and it finds out the intent behind the review, testimonial, comment, or news article.

Online Reputation for High Quality Overall

The relationship between online reputation and the overall quality of a site is fairly easy to understand. A good online reputation is associated with high-quality sites and vice versa. 

High-quality sites manage their online reputation quite well. They:

  • Encourage happy customers to leave reviews
  • Collaborate with bloggers and influencers
  • Respond to both appreciation and criticism
  • Be proactive and engage with their audience
  • Run online campaigns to create awareness

You can also build a strong and sustainable online reputation like them. It will help you maintain your site’s high quality overall.

6. Security 

Sites that are not safe and secure cannot be trusted or favored. They can cause irreparable harm to the users, such as transactional fraud, collection of sensitive data, etc.

Security for High Quality Overall

High-quality sites have strong security and are safe to browse. They:

  • Add HTTPS to secure your URL
  • Use SSL encryption on your login pages
  • Enforce a strong password policy
  • Delete outdated files from the database
  • Scan their site and server for vulnerabilities
  • Apply web application firewall

You can also implement these on your site. As you resolve the security issues, your site’s overall quality will increase.

7. General Issues

Several technical issues like broken links, improper redirects, and 404 errors also impact the overall quality. You should fix them at the earliest.

Secondly, some sites show advertisements. If the content volume is less than the display ads, it will degrade the site’s quality. 

You should create a balance between the two and ensure that users get value while visiting your site. The best is to keep display ads as few as possible.

Another issue that impacts overall quality is the update frequency of the site. If you’ve left your site like that after making it live, it is sure to be devalued. 

You should optimize your site from time to time so that it performs well. Do what it takes to make it high-quality overall.

These are some factors that impact your site’s overall quality. They are general issues, and fixing them will bring you results.

However, keep checking your site for any other issues that arise and potentially impact the overall quality. 

Use your intuition and ask yourself if you would use a site with such an issue. If the answer is no, fix the problem!

Stay Original, Stay High-Quality Overall

When the original site has low quality overall, Google might rank another site with copied content above it in search results. 

If another site has been outranking you for a long time now, you must analyze and improve your site’s overall quality. 

For help, you have the suggestions mentioned in this article.

Did you ever find your original content ranking below the plagiarised version? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below.

Sahil is the CEO and Founder of RankWatch and thrives to make it into one of the leading technology companies in India. Gifted with unlimited ambition and drive you will generally find Sahil with his head down completely isolated from the world, plugged into his own world of coding.

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