What is copywriting?
For websites, copywriting refers to the creation of the right words to use on your website pages, perhaps to explain your services, introduce your business or describe the products that you are selling.
The writing can be based upon in-depth SEO research, so that the text targets specific search words and phrases, whilst being inherently readable for humans, or it can simply be written to ensure visitors get clear and on-brand information from your website.
For search engines, what is important is the uniqueness and originality of the text your website displays. Whilst referring to other websites discussing similar subjects is not a bad thing, when the content of other websites is copied almost in entirety, you stand a good chance of your website being ranked down in search results for using text which is either identical or only slightly changed from that found on another website. You also stand the chance of legal action if the company whose website text has been copied discovers your use of the same copy.
Unfortunately, some website designers and copywriters do use this latter approach, and create the text and written content by copying it from other websites and using it with or without a few small changes.
How do I know the copy on my website is unique?
Perhaps the easiest place to start is by simply copying a paragraph of text from your website and paste into Google Search - it is clever enough to bring back any matching paragraphs from other websites using it, and set the matching text to bold. Sometimes it is not an entirely matching sentence or two, maybe one or two words are different, but this is a very quick and easy way to check.
The alternative is a free service called Copyscape - https://www.copyscape.com/
You can simply enter your own website address into their website and click the 'Go' button - it will quickly come back with a list (or hopefully, no list!) of other websites that use some or all of the same text content that your website uses. From there, you can click each item in the list and Copyscape will highlight the text which also appears on your website, within the results.
You can also enter the URL of a specific page of your website, not just the home page - that way you can check out more than just the home content.
How do I know they aren't using my copy, and not the other way around?
Of course, this is more than possible - what you may wish to check initially is any copyright year or date at the footer of your website and theirs. Some companies only list the current year, however it may indicate the initial date that the website went live, and perhaps also the current year as well - if the date is earlier than your own website, it's slightly more likely that they got there first.
If you're unsure, ask your website design company how they created your copy - the free Copyscape service only brings back a certain number of results, and only allows so many checks in any given timeframe, so for more details you need to go for the paid service, however even seeing 1 or more results should suggest that perhaps your website copy was not created uniquely for you, and may have been copied and pasted from elsewhere. Ultimately you may be quite shocked at how frequently type of thing happens, so it's worth checking! It could be the difference between gaining new business or being knocked out of search results completely.
Google is less bothered - it will quickly bring back matching results and tell you what website they are from.