Cheap web content could cost you your search engine ranking.

A prospect recently asked me why she should spend so much money for original articles on her site, when she can just copy whatever she needs from the rest of the web. It’s easy to write off a business owner who thinks that way as being cheap or as someone who doesn’t understand how the web works.

That’s rarely a fair accusation.

Most people simply don’t understand copyright. More importantly, many small business owners don’t grasp the value of adding new ideas to a conversation with potential customers, and they don’t know how to navigate different content marketing pricing models.

Google just announced that it’s updating the way it ranks search engine results. If your website’s been charged with too many copyright “takedown notices,” you’ll watch your PageRank slip.

I won’t be surprised if some black hat SEOs try to sell business owners on the idea of slapping competitors with DCMA requests to game the system. Google’s thought of this as well, setting penalties only after a website’s owner loses their appeal.

It’s time to stop scraping and start creating. Google and other major search engines have emphasized their bias for original content that improves the user experience online. If your website only contains aggregated links or copy-and-pasted text from other websites, you’re probably already feeling the effect of search engine algorithms that penalize you for borrowing content. As authors like me get more savvy about issuing takedown notices, sites that rely too heavily on CTRL-C won’t even show up on SERPs.

The good news? You can always use someone else’s great ideas as the jumping-off point for your own business blogging and content editing. Some of my favorite pieces of online journalism use other peoples’ articles and blog posts as inspiration for further research and conversation. It’s not too late to fill your site with the kind of content that turns browsers into regular customers.

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram