Don’t copy your own copy — or someone else’s

So, you have a pretty website, you have an active Facebook page, and now comes the hard part: filling it with stuff.

Don’t copy your own copy — or someone else’s

So, you have a pretty website, you have an active Facebook page, and now comes the hard part: filling it with stuff. Stuffing it with stuff, if you will.

Stuffed with stuffing... well, you get the point.

Stuffed with stuffing… well, you get the point.

This is where it gets tricky for many business owners. What “stuff” do you put on a website? These entrepreneurs and professionals know their own industry inside and out, but explaining that nuanced industry to others may be tougher than scaling a cliff… or saying “stuffing” 10 times fast.

We’ve spoken to clients who oftentimes see two options when the time comes for copy needs: they may consider “borrowing” “some” “content” from someone else on the Internet who already figured it out, or they are considering reusing the material that was created for them years before. What’s the harm in just lifting a few points and forming a convincing Franken-site from the gathered parts? Or, what’s the harm in taking the same five paragraphs and simply using them in a different order over and over again?

…Don’t do it.

“But nobody will find out,” you think to yourself. “Who is actually going to notice?”

While it’s true that you may not get caught, it is absolutely true that there are unintended consequences to repeating text, whether it’s using copywriting from a competitor or your own marketing materials.

1. It can destroy your search results. Some web professionals duplicate the same text over and over again, sometimes visible across multiple websites and/or pages, and sometimes invisible in the background of a website. This frowned-upon method is one of the notorious “black hat” tactics that ruins a website’s ranking.

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No, not that kind of black hat.

As punishment for this blatant and unhelpful manipulation of search engine rankings, Google bans the offending website from its search results. If you re-use your own material enough times, it doesn’t matter if you wrote and wholly own it; your site could end up on the naughty list. Investing in fresh copywriting now saves a headache later, no matter how minor the re-purposing might be.

2. Readers will notice. Even if your customers aren’t poets and authors, words make a subconscious impact. A certain rhythm or unique phrase to copywriting has the power to stick in someone’s head when re-read. These rhythms are identifiable enough that the reader stops and wonders where he or she has heard it before, and you don’t want the reader to stop reading. It doesn’t matter whether the content was reproduced by you or lifted from a competitor — those words stick around long after a potential customer closes the browser.

3. You’re different from your competitors — tell the world! The deliberate choice of words is an art similar to choosing a color or selecting a font. The overall tone and feel of your copywriting materials contributes to every aspect of your personal brand — and yes, you have a brand, whether you know it or not!

This brand is crucial to separating you from your competitors. Even if you’re selling version A and she’s selling version B of the same thing, find those differences and expound upon them. Copy is key in this arena. Even though graphics, colors, and design all help differentiate businesses and products from one another, stellar copywriting that echoes your values with every syllable communicates as strongly as the words themselves.

Talking about yourself can get tricky. Reach out to us today so we can help you find the words you’re looking for.

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