Imitation isn’t flattery, particularly when it comes to stolen content!
If you run any sort of online business, a common problem you might encounter is your content being copied and published elsewhere on the internet. Even as far back as in 2013, a Google software engineer, Matt Cutts, claimed that 30% of the internet is made up of duplicate content.
With the number of websites on the internet increasing exponentially, this duplication of information is bound to have grown as well. So, to keep your content safe, you need to be proactive and take steps to detect and deter copycats. Here’s how!
How to find copycats
The first step to preventing content theft is to be aware of what is being stolen. To do so, you can start off with a simple Google search. You can copy a couple of lines of text from your content and then paste them into the search engine and you will be directed to all the websites that have mentioned it. But, given that you cannot sit and search every single line of a piece of content, this method would have limited success in catching content thieves.
So, for a more thorough check of your content, you can use a plagiarism checker. These allow you to copy large bodies of text and then display which sections of the text have been copied. There are many free plagiarism checkers, such as SmallSEOtools and Duplichecker, that you can use to find content thieves without any cost to your business.
You can also look at referral traffic inside your Google Analytics to check for content theft. Referral traffic refers to people who find your website through other means as opposed to directly searching for it on Google. If you find traffic coming to you from unusual websites, it is a good idea to take a closer look at them and check to see whether they are plagiarizing your content.
Taking action against content thieves
Once you discover that a website is copying your content, the next step is to get the copycat to take it down. To do so, you can first reach out to the website’s owner through the contact information listed on the website. Ask them to take down the content, telling them that if they don’t, you will report the website to Google. If you don’t get a response from the website, you can then report the incident to Google using its copyright infringement form. If the website you reported has been hosted on Google’s web hosting services, there is a good chance it will get removed.
If your website is hosted in the U.S, you can use the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to take down stolen content. This act requires all websites that post content or allow for user-generated content to respond to copyright infringement claims as soon as possible. You can file DMCA complaints inside your Google Search Console. The tough part of getting the stolen content taken down is that it is done page per page, so if a website has copied more than one piece of content, you will have to file multiple requests.
How to discourage content theft
As we stated in the previous section, taking down content can be a tedious process and so, the best thing you can do is to deter thieves from targeting your website. The first step to take in this direction is to disable copying on your website. This will stop most laymen content thieves from stealing your work. However, people who understand coding would be able to bypass this and copy your content nonetheless.
If you are a graphic designer or a photographer, you should also go ahead and disable the right-click “Save image as” option. You can either do so by adding plug-ins on your website or, if you have a website developer, you can request them to disable it by adjusting the script of your website accordingly. You must also add watermarks right around the center of your image as proof of your ownership of it.
It is also a good idea to include a copyright notice on your website. This makes it more than clear that the content on your website cannot be used without your permission and that you will take action if it is stolen. If you use a WordPress site, you can also utilize the Copyright Proof plug-in that gives you a time-stamped certificate that proves your ownership over the content on your website.
Of course, none of these tips have a 100% guarantee of working each time your content is scraped by another website. However, if you keep a level head and are proactive about content protection, you should be able to fend off most attempts at content theft.
Header image courtesy of Freepik.