For me, 2021 is all about adding massive amounts of content to my sites.
I’ve got several sites that I intend to sell by January 2022, and to reach the goals I’ve set for those sites I have to add more content to them.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Yeah, I thought so too.
I’ve been outsourcing content three places this year – with WordAgents being where I spent most of my money so far this year.
My content expenses through April 2021 have been averaging around $6,000/mo. thus far.
But for now, I’m halting all content outsourcing, at least temporarily.
Because I need to completely change the way I’ve been going about it.
All Plagiarism Checkers Are Garbage
Let’s start at the end, shall we?
You can’t trust plagiarism checkers. Like at all.
And I just learned this the hard way, after spending a lot of money on content that somehow passed Copyscape.
You see, that’s one of the reasons that I’ve always felt comfortable using agencies that promote that they use Copyscape, because I thought it protected me from plagiarized content.
But here’s the thing – I never realized just how easy it is to pass Copyscape with plagiarized content.
It’s a false safety net.
Apparently, you can just change only one to two words with a synonym and you get 100% passing.
This is true with:
- Copyscape Premium
- Grammarly Premium
I’ve now spent an entire afternoon raging about this.
Both because I didn’t realize it was this easy for writers to fool Copyscape and because I can’t believe that I didn’t already know this.
Maybe you already knew this.
Maybe you don’t really give two shits about it cause the content will rank anyways.
You SHOULD care about it though.
If you have a writer who swipes the opening sentence from one of your competitors and only changes two words, how do you think that competitor is going to react (especially if you take their rankings)?
Best case scenario, they send you nasty email.
Worst case scenario, they make it their life’s mission to take your ass down.
How I Realized Plagiarism Checkers Are Useless
So, last month I dropped around $7500 on content at WordAgents. And since so many articles were going to be coming in, I recruited my wife to look over them before I published them.
She had also done the keyword research for me on some of the articles and looked at a lot of sites in that niche.
Basically, she was well-versed in the subject matter, so I knew it’d be faster for her to take the lead on those titles.
Imagine my surprise when she informed me that one of the articles had an opening sentence that was almost identical to a competitor’s site.
I told her that wasn’t possible because WordAgents guarantees that the article passed Copyscape.
Then she showed me the two articles.
Here’s a screenshot of the competitor site’s opening sentence:
And here’s a screenshot from the completed article that I was sent:
I can’t believe just changing two fucking words resulted in this passing all the plagiarism checkers.
And I can’t believe that I paid $55 for that article only to discover this.
And I may never have known if I’d just posted the article without knowing the niche or having someone check it.
How many other articles on my sites are just like this one?
Think about it – writers can be paying for Copyscape and see just how little they have to change to get copied content to pass the plagiarism detection.
It’s Not The Content Agency’s Fault? Or Is It?
On the one hand, I can’t really blame WordAgents for this (or any other content agency) because they promise to pass Copyscape, and they amazingly did that.
Even if you only paste that first sentence into Copyscape, it still fucking passes.
So, in reality, WordAgents gave me exactly what they said they would – an article that passes Copyscape.
But, those articles are also supposed to go through an editor before coming to me.
Shouldn’t the editor have caught that?
I would think so? But who knows.
The reality for me is that this is unacceptable, so I’m stopping using WordAgents immediately.
I’ve had other issues with the content that I’ve been getting back from WordAgents in recent weeks, which makes the decision easier.
This isn’t a WordAgents review, so I won’t go into those details in this post.
But this isn’t just a WordAgents problem for me. I’m also stopping using all content agencies for the time being because I can’t trust anyone using Copyscape as proof of original content.
So, how do you solve this problem?
You can’t just hire writers direct and use any of these plagiarism detection tools to keep them honest. I’ve already seen that those tools are hot garbage.
And how do you find some writers trustworthy enough to not fuck you over to begin with?
I honestly don’t know what the best solution is to this problem.
I don’t even think you can pay people a really high amount and have that be enough to insulate you from this fuckery.
Though having someone’s livelihood dependent upon you is a good place to start.
So, for the time being I’m not outsourcing any other content for my sites until I figure this out.
And I apologize for the recommendations I’ve made to you in the past.
5/25/21 update: I had a conversation with Heather White of Writer Access about how they handle writers who plagiarize and learned that they take it quite seriously. If you think you have plagiarized content from one of their writers, it gets investigated immediately because they have a zero tolerance policy for it. They even randomly audit orders to check for all sorts of content issues, kind of like those old school mystery shoppers except for content orders.
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.