Dealing with content copycats

 

 Most business owners understand the importance of unique, relevant content on your website. Quality content not only helps you rank higher in the search engines, it also helps your user find exactly what they are looking for on your website or blog.

Creating unique content is a time consuming, creative process that often leaves people looking for a shortcut or an easier way to do it. Oftentimes people feel that if an article or image is published online, it is free for the taking; that it can then be repurposed and republished without permission from the original author. Sadly, unique content is often copied and republished without the knowledge of the author. With the sheer vastness of the Internet, we would likely be none-the-wiser if our content was stolen directly from our pages and reused elsewhere.

As a business owner or manager, stolen content can create a real issue for your business. Not that long ago, we were doing Search Engine Optimization for a client and we were struggling to get the search results to move in the right direction in Google. After doing everything we could on page to gain results and still not seeing rank place improvements, we concluded that there had to be an external reason why Google was not indexing our content.  We first searched to make sure the domain had not been blacklisted and then we ran the content through a website called www.copyscape.com. The CopyScape results were alarming. It turns out 10 of our main site pages had been copied almost word for word by a company in Florida. They had made minor changes here and there, however, there was over a 70% word match between the two sites. Google had wrongly indexed the copied site as the original and because of that, our site was being punished in the search engines.

At that point, it was up to us to show Google that our client was indeed the original author of the text. Luckily, our client had owned their domain since 2011, the copied text domain had been up in 2014, so we had longevity on our side. What we did then was go to Google and put in a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request to have the other content taken down (www.google.com/dmca.html). Then we had to wait. Since the other site knew they were the offending party, they actually did take down the copied content as a result of our DMCA request and our client was given ownership over the content in question. The result was higher rankings and big smiles for our client.

Our experience turned out to have a happy ending but that isn’t always the case. In order to prevent situations like the one we described above, we recommend doing the following things when uploading a new blog post or content to your site.

  • Share the new post on social media. A tweet with a link back to your website or blog post is an easy way to get a date and time stamp on a piece you have published. Not only will it help get more eyes on your content, it will serve as a digital time stamp.
  • Add sharing options to your post. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, encourage readers to share your work using the provided links instead of copying it as their own.
  • Make sure you add the copyright symbol on all pages of your site or blog and to all forms of media that you publish (videos, audio, ebooks, images, etc.).
  • Add a DMCA protection badge to your website. www.dmca.com will provide you with a free badge to place on your website that offers some protection. Upgrading to the pro version offers more, but it is possible that just showing the badge would be enough for a would-be copier to find content elsewhere.

If you think your site has been copied, run a quick search with www.copyscape.com to see what kind of results you get.  If someone is using your content without permission, it could be harming your search engine results so take action against the offending site quickly.


About the Author Patrice w/ ProFusion

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