Duplicate content – illegal, immoral and ill advised

duplicate content and seo

We first wrote about duplicate content in 2017, and we’ve since updated this article with guidance around how Google in particular treats duplicate content.

A pair of words that copywriters will know well is “duplicate content”. Sadly it’s a bit of web jargon, but if we said the word “plagiarism” you might start to recall the risks of copying other people’s work from school or university days.

It’s interesting in our modern age that students’ assignments at university are now compared by their lecturers to Google’s search results to see if they have stolen people’s work from the web. And if you’re creating a website then be warned. Google will be doing the same to your site.

There’s a secondary issue you should also consider – which is duplicating content on your own website. After all, if you have a great piece of content it may appear in different sections of the website.

How to avoid duplicate content

Google calls it “duplicate content” and since Google aims to provide quality, relevant results. It frowns on sites that share the same content. At the risk of putting duplicate content in this blog, let me tell you what Google says on this:

“Something like 25-30% of all the web’s content is duplicate,” said Matt Cutts, who was Google’s head of web spam back in 2017. He went on to say that Google accepts that it’s something that happens, “for example if you were to quote a paragraph from another blog on your website”. He adds that Google does not automatically assume that your website is spam unless your website is composed mainly or entirely from content found elsewhere. But if your website is not the first to publish content, Google will ‘group’ duplicated content together and will only show the original version in its search results.

So, by copying other people’s copy and content you risk not being displayed in search results. At worst Google will delist your site altogether.

Of course stealing another writer’s content is not morally right. Worse still, there’s copyright in the words someone uses, and you may be breaching the law by copying.

That’s where Copywriter UK comes in. We can help you write fresh, appealing content. This not only reflects well on your business, but will appeal to Google.

Duplicate content of your own copyright

Where you have a great piece of content, it can often be useful in various contexts. For example, we have ISO certification for copywriting. But we’re also certified for PR services. The benefits of the ISO are slightly different, but much of the ISO content is the same. We may want to have two virtually identical ISO pages – one under our copywriting menu, and one under PR.

We haven’t done this to manipulate Google, but only to communicate effectively to our potential customers. Google may not penalise us for this – although it may make a mistake and assume you’re acting unfairly. It could then delist you. Similarly, it may make its own decisions on which pages to index – and these may not be the pages you want listed. The best thing to do is to use the “canonical” tag to tell Google exactly what you’re doing, and which it should consider to be the content that should be indexed.

Google provides some guidance on this. Again, if you are confused our Oxygen web developers will be able to help.


Subject lines that get your mail opened

Copywriter UK - e-shots

Copywriting email communications


In these times of spam filters, and spam filled in-boxes, e-shot subject lines have a thankless task. Prospects are simply too used to being sold to for something that looks as though it came straight from the classifieds to work. So what will? Here at Copywriter UK, we have pulled together a guide to crafting the perfect e-shot subject line.


Decide what you want your e-shot to do

E-shots are better for soft selling. They’re a great way to soften up your customer, build brand loyalty or as part of a long selling cycle. But for all that to work, you have to make sure that they get opened and read. The trouble is, if you get it wrong once, subsequent e-shots will get automatically deleted by the recipient. That’s why it’s best to know which types of subject lines get your e-shot opened and which don’t.


Divide up your mailing list

It’s fine to send details of promotions to those who’ve signed up for them. If you have a list of customers who want to hear about your latest deal then a “This summer’s unbeatable prices!” subject line isn’t going to put them off. But if they’ve simply signed up for a newsletter it will. Also, it isn’t a good idea to send details of inappropriate products to specific sections of your target audience. For example, sending deals on baby clothes to pensioners. Here, as always, the time-honoured copywriter advice applies − know who you’re writing to and angle your subject line towards them, even if it means carefully sectioning up your mailing list into focused groups. This is much easier if you’ve already correctly set your customer expectations up properly during the sign-up process. In fact setting customer expectations is key if you want to craft effective e-shot subject lines, because then you know what that particular customer wants from you.


The surprising truth about what your e-shot subject line should contain…

… Simply describe what’s in the email. The most effective e-shot subject lines are those that describe exactly what’s included in the email. That’s because email recipients find the ‘hard sell’ particularly invasive and will delete such emails immediately, unless it’s what they’ve requested. Keep your e-shot subject line short, factual and accurate. If you’ve used a good sign-up process you’ll be sending to an interested party so you don’t have to over-egg the pudding.


Utilise the power of e-shots


What if you’re aiming for something more creative?

That said, your e-shot subject line doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some tips and formulas you can use to increase its appeal:


  • Keep it 22-45 characters short including spaces – this is the amount of text most programs will display.
  • Start e-shot subject lines with active verbs.
  • Try to ‘tell’ rather than ‘sell’ – a prospect is far more likely to open a mail that offers information they feel they need.
  • Ask a question – that contains a real benefit or solution.
  • Offer a ‘how to’.
  • Offer a cryptic clue to your subject with an ellipsis to get your customer to want to find out more.
  • Tell them about a real and impending deadline to urge them to act.


Writing e-shots is probably the hardest type of direct marketing copy to get right. If you’re struggling, why not let Copywriter UK do it for you? Call us to discuss your marketing needs today on 0845 2606 255.

How to find your brand’s social media tone of voice

social media tone of voice image

Before social media existed, brands simply worked out who their customers were together with their brand values and communicated them appropriately. But Facebook, Twitter and the other 500 forms of social media changed all that. Suddenly brands were required to have a very public form of conversation with their customers. And making the transition proved to be tricky.

Companies are not people. But social media has been created largely for individuals, and demands real interaction on a more personal level. Today, companies are finding they can no longer just put out passive messages or completely dictate the conversation. And some struggle with developing a conversational tone of voice that’s approachable and expressive enough.

Because social media requires your brand to converse, it’s really important to think about how your brand would sound actually speaking to a customer.

So how do you find a social media tone of voice that’s right for your brand?

Start with the basics. Describe your brand’s personality in three words, and try to make them as distinctive and non-generic as possible. Are you young? Smart? Witty? Geeky? Sophisticated? Sassy? Warm? Translate those qualities into speech.

How will you attract customers into conversations on social media?

Bruce Daisley, UK Twitter VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, recommends three qualities, at least two of which your brand’s social media tone of voice should possess. He says an effective marketing social media tone of voice can be either fun, helpful or informative in any combination.

You can use social media as a form of customer service in order to be ‘helpful’, and blog posts or tips in order to be ‘informative’. Ideally ‘fun’ should relate to your brand values and the thinking you did about your brand personality. It should permeate real life conversations with your followers.

Thinking about your company’s culture can also be useful. What does your organisation stand for? What do you talk about? What are your unique stories or activities? Let customers in on the brand experience.

Positive social media tone of voice perceptions are enhanced by listening and responding

It’s not enough to decide who you are. It’s important to think carefully about how your customer speaks to you. Be aware of the kind of language they use, and match it. Sainsbury’s has done this exceptionally well on a number of occasions, most noticeably when a customer tweeted about some fish they tried to purchase, and more recently when a customer posted to Facebook about finding a worm in her lettuce. And O2 once went so far as to adopt Jamaican patois to respond to a customer.

Find out what your customer community is talking about and what their concerns are. Some scheduling is useful, but relying too heavily on it can make your brand sound fake. Encourage customers to talk to you by asking questions and responding with authentic, non-automated answers in real time.

Don’t forget your social media call-to-action

Effective social media writing means bearing your end goal in mind. What do you want your customer to do? Keep it simple and stick to one call-to-action per post, status update or tweet. Sometimes the straightforward approach works best e.g. ‘like this if you want to show your support’ or ‘please retweet’ and this is what’s likely to get the greatest response.

Still struggling with a social media tone of voice that’s right for you? Let our copywriters help. We can draft your social media tone of voice guidelines, or build your social media networks for you. Call Copywriter UK’s team today on 0845 2606 255.