Free Online Plagiarism Checkers

A few days ago, I discovered that at least four webpages that I drafted content for over 10 years ago had been lifted verbatim and copied to another attorney’s website. On the one hand, I feel flattered that the unethical writer chose my content to copy. Clearly, they liked it better than the hundreds of other law sites that they could have copied from. On the other hand, duplicative content negatively affects a website’s search engine placement. The plagiarizer is not only hurting their own client, but they are affecting my client as well.

This set me on a quest to find an online plagiarism checker that actually works. I’ve spent most of today testing every free plagiarism checker that I could find and most paid plagiarism checkers that would allow a free trial. I tested 18 services and found only two that worked.

How do You Avoid Duplicative Content on Your Site?

As far as I can tell, the website that lifted my content was not written by the attorney. The website’s owner was extremely apologetic and promised to take the pages down and redraft them immediately. The attorney hired “a guy” who drafted the content for them and did not expect that “the guy” would simply copy and paste content from someone else’s website.

This was not a case of similar content that discussed the same practice areas on each website. It was copied and pasted directly from the original site. No one expects this to happen when you hire someone to write content on your site. But how can you avoid it? First of all, hire a professional to write your content. A professional writer whose reputation depends on their work product will not lift material from other websites, and they will use a plagiarism checker to ensure they are not inadvertently reproducing the content.

The second method is to check the content on your website yourself. But how?

Online Plagiarism Checkers

Based on my pseudo-scientific tests, most of them do not work. I took four original webpages that I knew had been copied and pasted to another site. I checked each website and confirmed that the content was duplicated verbatim and that the plagiarized webpages were still online. I then copied a paragraph from each of the four plagiarized webpages into each of the following online services. The results:

  1. Regular old Google search: Does not work. It finds the original website but for some reason did not turn up the duplicative content.
  2. Plagium.com: Does not work. Did not even find the original site’s content. No plagiarism found.
  3. Copyscape.com: Although praised in several places as a tried and true plagiarism checker, it does not work. It searches using the original sites URL instead of text and found no plagiarism.
  4. Dustball.com: Does not work. No plagiarism found. Then it suggests that, if I pay a subscription, the results will be 3X more accurate. I’m not buying it.
  5. Plagiarisma.net: Does not work. Plagiarisma did find the original website but did not find the plagiarized webpages.
  6. Quetext.com: Does not work. Quetext did find the original website.
  7. Plagiarismcheck.org: Does not work. It did find the original website.
  8. Plagiarismchecker.com: Does not work. It limits your search to 32 words, and it did find the original website.
  9. Searchenginereports.net: Does not work. Did not even find the original website.
  10. Duplichecker.com: Does not work. It did not find the plagiarism and would not run additional tests unless I create an account. Their website has constant pop-ups advertising for Grammarly.
  11. Smallseotools.com: Does not work. Did not even find the original website. And… pop-ups advertising for Grammarly.
  12. Plagscan.com: Does not work. It says approximately 10% of the content is plagiarized, but it lists two sites that did not copy the material while missing both the original and plagiarized site.
  13. DMCA.com: I ran one search with the webpage’s URL, and wasn’t sure what the result was. So I tried it again, and it gave me a message that said my two free searches had been used and I needed to sign up with them. Inconclusive, but I’m not going to go through a registration process when the results are already suspect.
  14. Whitesmoke.com: Claims to allow a free search to test their product, but I could not find it. Everywhere I looked and clicked on their website I was redirected to a sign-up page with subscription pricing.
  15. Prepostseo.com: Does not work. It did not even find the original website.
  16. Grammarly.com: Everywhere that I looked, people recommended grammarly.com. I have been using their free grammar checker for some time and I can recommend it. Although they are running a Google Adwords campaign with ads titled “free plagiarism checker,” there is no free plagiarism checker. I even emailed their customer support to confirm there is no way to test the service before paying. I was immediately concerned about the dishonest advertising. Because so many people are recommending the service, I went ahead and signed up for one month to test it. Grammarly consistently found the original website but did not turn up the offending plagiarized site in any of my searches. I have already canceled and requested a refund, and I do not recommend them for plagiarism searches.
  17. Paperrater.com: Finally! This is a free service that found not only the original website, but the confirmed plagiarized site as well. It located the plagiarism in all four webpages that I searched.
  18. Unplag.com: Yes! Unplag.com is also a free service. It found the original website, the plagiarized website, and several more. It turns out there are several forums or message boards that also copied and pasted content from the same webpages, and this is the only service that found them.

My conclusion: Even the paid services did not find plagiarism that I confirmed is online and has been online for some time. The only services that worked were the free services paperrater.com and unplag.com. The paid service that everyone seems to be recommending, Grammarly.com, lies in their advertising and did not find the confirmed plagiarism that I was searching for. I recommend using either paperrater.com or unplag.com to check the existing content on your websites and to run a search before publishing new material.

I would love to hear if there are any services that I missed or if anyone has had different experiences with these services.

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