Why Relying Blindly on Plagiarism Checkers is a BAD IDEA

Are you a content creator? Or a business looking for writers? I know you need original content. However, don’t just fall into the trap of superficial plagiarism checkers.

Icy Media
6 min readApr 17, 2020

You’ve probably heard about Copyscape. Grammarly. Or, Small SEO Tools. All of them can be great resources to check whether the content is plagiarized.

None of them are perfect. Copyscape fails to check for copied content often when it comes to PDF files. Grammarly, at times, has false positives. Small SEO Tools, a free plagiarism checker, isn’t able to identify copied content at times.

However, they are overall pretty reliable.

Add alt text

For instance, you may have Grammarly telling you the phrase has been copied from that particular website. Should you doubt, you can check the source link — in the above image — to see if the phrase was plagiarized from it. You just need to apply the presence of mind to see if it’s copied or not. In over 4 years of working with Grammarly, only once have I seen an article that was a major false positive, or one that said it was nearly 8% copied to the source when it was not.

Yes, the above ones aren’t perfect, but they don’t normally lie.

My specific gripe is with this new breed of plagiarism checkers, which promise much but deliver little. I will give you the list — www.content-watch.ru, www.1text.com or text.ru, or ones that I am aware of.

These are promising ‘deep search’ for plagiarism that helps you find rewrites and other forms of copying. That’s not true, to put it subtly.

Even supposed popular digital marketing agencies seem to be falling into the trap. It’s like the notion that you need to guest post on sites with a higher Domain Authority, without actually looking at the other relevant metrics. There are entire websites like paypercontent.net that pays solely by your site’s Domain Authority, even when Moz itself admits it’s not a metric Google ranks content by. But that’s something that I will talk about another day.

What I feel worried about is the fact that more businesses are jumping onto the bandwagon of checking content through these plagiarism checkers — without even realizing what it means.

Consider this — here below is one of my client interactions, who wanted 95% plus on sites like content-watch.ru

Add alt text

And now, let’s talk about what makes content 50% unique and 100% unique. I will be walking you through the same article with results on Copyscape and Content-watch.ru.

The article is about “How to use an Extension Cord for Air Conditioners”.

First, here is the result of Copyscape. That’s right — 100% original. 0% plagiarism.

Add alt text

Here is what I found out though when I checked on Content-watch.ru.

Add alt text

Yes, it shows my article is just 50% unique! The software tells me that the yellow lines and phrases are plagiarized. I know it’s not.

Here is the thing, if you continue changing the yellow phrases, it will still catch plagiarism. The problem lies somewhere else.

These plagiarism checkers aim to identify plagiarism in ‘deeper levels’, and look at the theme of the content. If it’s an article on ‘extension cord for air conditioners’, it will look at articles related to extension cords and air conditioners. The one thing that both these themed articles will have in common? Technical terms like 120 volts, “gauge”, “amps”, “extension cord”, “air conditioner” and the like.

The plagiarism checker has a problem with these terms, not anything else. In my experience, I have seen that the plagiarism checker can have only 3–4 of the terms in the article — any more, and it will link it to random similarly themed articles online.

Here is the thing — when you know what causes the issue, you can solve that. It’s what I did. Have a look at the edited version’s result.

Add alt text

Yes, it’s 100% unique. Great for digital marketing businesses to tell their clients that you’ve great original content. Is it original, though? And well-written? Definitely not. Here is why.

Have a look at the piece.

I used “current capacity” instead of “Power”. I used “one hundred and twenty volts”, instead of “120 V”. I added on to the content, even when it could have been concise.

It’s not natural. It goes against grammar rules. It’s definitely not a great piece.

What takes the cake though? I removed the Title of the piece and the percentage dipped from 100% to 79%. Yes, just the addition of the Title, “How to Use an Extension Cord for Air Conditioners?” makes the originality percentage dip from 100% to 79%!

Still don’t believe me? Check this out below.

Add alt text

Again, the ONLY thing changed? The Title!

Yet, it scores 100% — and oh, your client loves it.

It’s this seeming disregard for a reason — just to make clients pay stating your articles have “90% originality” — that is taking many for a ride.

I will tell this to you bluntly — Google DOES NOT want you to write 120 V as one hundred and twenty volts. No. It wants you to create insightful content that you have written and not copied — and which draws in engagement.

What is driving this stupidity?

For clients, it seems to be a problem of not knowing what’s right. Yes, 100% originality just seems so much better to hear. They could hear about it from someone else, and ask the writer to do it. Others are plain ignorant — and choose to remain so — simply because they don’t want to understand what plagiarism is or how it works. Then, of course, are marketing agencies that are catching on to the gimmick, and making clients more for this — when you should be paying less, if at all, as a client.

Sure, content-watch.ru may work great when it comes to checking fiction writing. Or, from a genre rarely written in. For a technical article, news or a health piece? Not quite.

Imagine the horror of trying to change disease names to something not popular to get to the 90% plus mark.

To use this type of plagiarism checkers with an aim for 90% plus original content is just plain stupidity. Branding a content 50% or 100% arbitrarily, speaks volumes about how “efficient” this new breed of plagiarism checkers actually are.

The one thing you love about Copyscape is that it can tell you which source article the writer actually referred to when copying. You cannot do them here. Just watch random articles come up as “sources you had copied from,” when you didn’t open one of them.

It’s time clients did their own research, and use their mind instead of falling into such traps — and spare us, writers, the headache of giving badly written content for more money.

Note: Pictures have been blurred to protect content copyright.



Icy Media

We are Icy Media, a Vancouver-based media agency. Talk to us for premium content, web design and SEO solutions.