I don't know if this happens to you, but I see it all the time. I'll be looking up some topic of interest or other, and I'll find myself saying, "Wait a minute. Didn't I just read this blog article or web page on another site?" And sure enough, I did. So which organization came up with the original website or blog content, and which one simply did a copy-and-paste? I have no idea -- and if your site is the one I'm looking at, that's a problem for you.
Now, of course you can't comb the Internet constantly searching for any competitors who might decide to steal your content and pass it off as their own. But you can make sure that you're creating your own original content, content that helps you stand out by expressing your individual brand image, voice and values.
It should go without saying that Google doesn't think highly of duplicate content. Contrary to what some people think, the search engine doesn't usually slap any major penalties on companies that post the occasional copy of someone else's (or even their own) written content. That's partly because it's accepted that accidental duplication will happen to the best of us; it really can't be helped in the immense digital cosmos of the Information Superhighway. But you can forget about that duplicate content helping you to rank more highly. It confuses the search engines so that they don't know which site's version to index, re-index, or rank for query results.
But the problem of duplicate content doesn't begin and end with Google's reactions. How will visitors to your site react when they see an article or web page that they just read on someone else's site? If you don't assume that you're simply a thief, they'll at least get the impression that you have nothing original to offer compared to your competitors. Your brand will appear generic, and you'll become just another possible choice, as good as any other, in a crowded field of options.
That's the real reason you need to populate your digital marketing content with original material. Original content helps you stand out so that your message "pops" in comparison with all the other pages and posts your prospective customers are viewing as they seek solutions. There's no denying that you'll have to cover much of the same ground, topic-wise, as everyone else. But by putting your brand's unique spin on the subject, you can demonstrate that you've got something special to offer -- and isn't that what marketing is all about?
Don't fall into the comfortable trap of "borrowing" content from around the Web. Take the time to custom-craft your own original material, or bring a professional copywriter on board to help you. You're already one of a kind, so make sure that your target audience knows it!