Imagine you and your team have worked hard to research, brainstorm, and produce stellar content. Next, you and your team of super marketers create viral or buzz-worthy content and much to your dismay you notice it has been stolen. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of unscrupulous digital marketers and “SEO” specialists on the web who scrape content without the webmaster’s consent. Sometimes it’s inevitable that your content will get copied and repurposed, often times without a link. On a positive note, we have some tools and strategies at our disposal that we can utilize to track these individuals down. Our intellectual works are protected by copyright laws that try to encourage the creation of art and culture by rewarding curators with exclusive rights. There are some important steps to take regularly to protect your content and your rankings such as; identifying stolen content, looking up the hosting provider, and taking appropriate action.
The first step to protecting your content that you and your team worked hard to curate is to identify what if any has been stolen. There can be several reasons your content has been stolen. Maybe someone decided to borrow some information from a popular piece to support a theory and simply forgot to link back to you. On the other hand, it’s possible that somebody decided to maliciously scrape your website and help themselves to your content. This is a situation we ran into recently in which a website was automatically scraping our content and then posting it back on their site without a link. The website has some Domain Authority and Page Authority behind it according to the. The website in question for this example has copied every blog we posted for an undetermined amount of time this could potentially have a negative impact on our rankings.
The first step is to determine if in fact someone is copying your content. What you want to do is to do a quick search in my favorite search engine and determine where my copy is showing up across the internet.
I want to see where else my content is showing up throughout Google and see if there are any websites scraping my copy.
I randomly selected this copy to run a query for and see where else this copy shows up on the web.
Oh look, I found a website scrapping content verbatim from my blog post. Thankfully there was only one other result that showed up. I used a simple query to see if my content showed up on any other websites for example: “INSERT WEBSITE COPY”.
The next thing I want to do is to investigate this sketchy site a little further. An important issue to be aware of is thatcan result in a penalty. As such, it has the potential to affect keyword rankings. It is important to take some time and investigate the extent that the plagiarism is occurring.
According to the Moz Toolbar, I notice the website has some Page Authority and Domain Authority. Potentially this could have some negative implications if this website is consistently scrapping and re-posting our blog content.
I noticed the website has scraped and reposted the content on their website verbatim with the same images and headlines. Upon further investigation, I also notice this is not the only blog post they have scraped, this has been going on for quite a while now.
Now that I have researched the website and identified the problem it is time to take some initial steps to combat the plagiarism. The first thing I want to do is reach out to the webmaster of the infringing website and notify them that I know they are scraping content from our website. Chances are they already know this and do not care too much. The next step after I have tried to reach out to the webmaster is determine who the website is hosted by using a “whois lookup”.
Once I finish up with the whois lookup I am provided with information on who the webmaster is, their email address and who their website is hosted by. I can now contact the hosting provider and let them know that a website that is hosted through their business is blatantly infringing on intellectual copyrights.
Ideally, what would happen is the hosting provider would take down the website in question, but since they didn’t offer an appropriate solution it is time for the next step.
The next step is filing a dirty DMCA request. Only take this step once you have exhausted the other options. Also, keep in mind you need to have the authority to act on behalf of your company prior to filing the request. You can draft your own DMCA takedown request to serve up to the website in question or feel free to download this DMCA Take Down Noticeto customize and use however you want. Of course, I did not hear anything back from the infringing website or their hosting provider, so the next and final step is to elevate the issue and file a complaint with Google.
After you have sent the DMCA notice to the website in question and wait a few days then it’s time to elevate the complaint to Google and get some sort of resolution.
Step 1: Log into Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice . This will take you to the copyright removal section within Google.
Simply follow the instructions and be sure to describe the nature of the work being copied and include URL’s where the copyrighted work can be viewed. Also, include the link to the infringing material as well. There is also an option to include multiple works that have been infringed upon as well but unfortunately, there is no way to bulk upload multiple examples of infringed copied work.
Step 2: I want to check and see how many pages Google has indexed for the site in question.
Unfortunately, I can see Google has indexed quite a few pages of this website. The DMCA request tends to work pretty quickly so the final step is to keep an eye on how many pages are currently indexed and compare it over the next few days or weeks. You can do this easily by simply taking a screenshot of how many pages are currently indexed and checking back later.
After a few days of waiting, I decided to check back and see how many pages have been removed from the Google index.
Good news! Google has thankfully de-indexed the pages in question. I can double check this by running a search query to check very quickly.
I simply input a sentence from a previously copied blog post to double check and see if Google has acted on the DMCA request. As I can clearly see Google worked to de-indexed some of the pages in question.
A few final words;
Moving forward a final step is to go through Google Search console and consider filing a spam report: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport .
If the unscrupulous website in question happens to violate some of these guidelines it can potentially get the entire website de-indexed or penalized by Google.
Good luck and happy hunting!