If you’re investing in content, plagiarism clearly sucks and it’s particularly problematic in SEO and even more so for affiliates.
First off just to explain why it’s such an issue, search engines have difficulty with duplicated content. In an ideal world if a publisher originates a piece of content then it should outrank any imitators. The difficulty for search engines is how to determine the originator if there’s a lack of other signals such as marked-up date and timestamps. Unfortunately the consequences can range from being outranked by the imitator to an algorithmic demotion (sometimes called a Panda penalty) to a manual penalty.
So here are a couple of regular checks to work into your content strategy on a fortnightly or monthly basis.
Firstly copy a snippet of content from a recent post about 120 characters should be enough. Pop it into a Google search putting quotation marks around it and see if the piece has been scraped by any other sites. A manual check like this is handy to use every now and again and remember to wait for around a week or so after the content is indexed before checking.
Secondly, for a more robust process try a tool like Copyscape. At my agency we find it good practise to schedule a regular monthly check using their batch report. Just extract the most recent 50 post URLs (you can use a crawling tool like Screaming Frog to do this in two minutes), then input the URL batch and Copyscape will identify any copies with a colour coded warning level, with red for exact duplicates and then degrees of orange to green for less well-matched.
Keep on top of this and it will become an hour-a- month job which could help prevent a ranking disaster that could take a long time to recover from.