As a Webmaster that produces great content, one particular area that’s bound to irk you is whenever someone steals your work and uses it as their own. Unfortunately, this occurs all too frequently as there’s nary a site which hasn’t been affected.
If you own a big site that hosts hundreds of articles, monitoring theft can be an arduous task for the unprepared. Which articles should you be on the lookout for, what content needs to be protected from hungry cyber pirates; you need to be prepared. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of steps that you can begin taking to safeguard your work today.
Your Content Is Your Most Prized Possession
Unless you’re an SEO newbie, the following statement should be obvious. “Great Content is Essential.” To rank high on Google, you need original, insightful content; whether it be articles, images, or videos to be featured on your page. As with all things though; there are shortcuts – and this is why content theft is so prevalent. Hitting Copy+Paste is all too tempting to pass up on for Webmasters who want fast content, without resorting to doing much work.
If someone stealing your content wasn’t bad enough, a duplicate content penalty hurts even more. Google constantly works to clamp down on duplicates but it is a common occurrence to see duplicated articles doing considerably better than you. This is why you should be diligent in protecting your work.
Watermarks and Embedded Copyright Counter-Measures Work
As unbelievable as it may sound, sometimes Webmasters aren’t aware about their discretion’s. There’s a multitude of content readily accessible for free, to even use for profit. To eliminate such risks, placing a Copyright notice in the footer of your site works. Or do one better: by placing the Copyright disclosure in your posts.
It’s advised to add obstructions to theft. For example, place a watermark to images and videos – they may not be 100% secure but they do stop thieves in their tracks because it’s somewhat odd to use a watermark that doesn’t belong to you.
To protect your articles, you may want to opt to disable text selection. This will make it that much harder to copy content directly and may stop thieves as copying will now take much considerable effort. There are still ways to duplicate your content though (especially if a thief is persistent), so disabling content would work as an initial counter-measure.
Use Google Authorship to Safeguard Against Plagiarism
Google Authorship is an integral tool to protecting your content from falling into the wrong hands, and to build your online reputation. The app works as such; you upload your content and claim ownership of it.
It’s drawback; you have to use your real name – this could prove problematic, if you write under an alias, and don’t want to disclose your information for whatever reason. If your site has numerous writers, you can still opt for Google Authorship but each of them has to claim his or her articles individually.
From the moment your content is uploaded to Google Authorship, Google will know you created it, so even if it does somehow get duplicated elsewhere, you won’t be subjected to duplicate content punishment.
Enable Google Alerts to Keep An Eye Out for Duplicate Content
Protecting your content from being duplicated is one agenda, picking them out is another. Even if you do well in protecting your content, there will always be thieves lurking. The easiest method to catch them in the act is through the use of Google Alerts.
How does Google Alerts Work?
You select sentences from your article that you would to safeguard, and create alerts to be informed should they appear elsewhere online. You need to highlight direct matches (so use quotations). It is advised to create 2 – 3 alerts per article – one for the first paragraph and some placed at random paragraph intervals.
Chances are, your beginning sentence will be copied the most; the introductory body of that highlights what it’s about, followed by links thereafter. This isn’t quite theft per se, but you may want to know about it. Also, if your content is republished and you’re credited as the author, this isn’t theft, though this could irk you to no end.
What’s Next After You Find The Theft
When you get a notification that your content has appeared elsewhere, without your permission, here are the steps you can take.
Gather Your Evidence and Make Your Case
Take screenshots of your work and prepare the initial documents. It may be difficult to prove that you’re the initial author of a post, as having drafts may not mean much – it’s all too easy to create them later as a ploy to place the blame on the original writer. For content such as videos and images , if you kept the initial files though, this would work better in your favor.
Should your content be indexed by Google and it has a record of when it took place; this evidence can be used in your favor. Even more so, if it took place before your content was copied.
Email the Content Thief (And Their Hosting Provider, If Needed)
Now that you’ve evidence, it’s time to take the necessary measures. You may be eager to move right away, but don’t start the blame game just yet. Begin by sending a friendly email to the guilty party. While chances may be low, the Webmaster may not be aware of his or her actions. They may even remove the post in question after reading your email.
However, if the initial email falls on deaf ears and they refuse to budge; consider sending an email to their hosting provider. Attach any evidence that you’ve compiled to strengthen your case. Should the hosting provider find the case to be outright plagiarism, they may even close the account.
Should the Following Not Work Out, File a DMCA Complaint
More often than not, the aforementioned steps would work out in dealing with thieves but should they fail; your best bet is through filing a DMCA complaint with Google.
For the uninitiated, DMCA means Digital Millennium Copyright Act and this is an official complaint procedure created by Google to report cases of stolen content. Webmasters who find their content to be republished elsewhere (without their permission) should file a DMCA complaint as Google is quick to remove the offending post from its indexes.
Protecting your content may be time consuming but if you care about SEO rankings; it is important to remain vigilant. Be observant, and not let content thieves profit from your hard work.