Content theft, what can you do about it?

There’s a lot to be said for content. Content is the real key to marketing your business in an online world, yet it’s not just any content; it always  needs to be reflective of your brand, your passion, your voice. So why is so much of it regurgitated? And I’m not talking about re-purposing content, as I am a great believer in re-purposed content that enables you to reach all kinds of audiences.Thief stealing a laptop

I’m talking about the ‘Wannabe’s’ and the ‘Scrapers’.

The Wannabe’s are the ones who are taking other peoples content and marketing it as their own. And I’m really sorry to say, I see a lot of it.  Of course, if they aren’t being truly authentic with their audience, they will get found out, and they will come unstuck.

I’m also talking about the ‘Content Scrapers’,  the ones who scour your blog, your articles and images and pass them off as their own – it does happen, and sometimes on your own front door too! Please note, this is different from Content Curation, where someone links to your content, maybe uses a quote or two from your work and provides you with credit and links – generally we are quite grateful for those, because it helps spread our message. Content Scrapers on the other hand, can actually damage your SEO, as Google recognise it as duplicate content.

I have been the ‘victim’ of this plagiarism in the past; I’ve been somewhat surprised and completely disappointed when I’ve opened up Facebook to see certain people putting forward a version of some of my previous work, when previously they have been on a far different path to me. The thing is, it’s desperate and it causes confusion. I’ve been in business long enough to realise that it says more about that person than the one they’ve copied.

I recently visited with a client who showed me where their content had recently been lifted directly from their website onto another person’s sales page. Thing is, I knew the person they were referring to. It was someone I interacted with regularly and had had phone conversations with; in fact, I’d even bought into one of their programs! It’s really put me off that person, as I now feel more than slightly misled.

It’s not just words. 

Every image you find on the net belongs to someone, whether its a logo, a photograph, a graphic, never assume it’s available for you to use, even if you do ‘see it everywhere’. Make sure you have the permission to use it before you do, and remember what YOU publish online is YOUR responsibility… So, even if you are using third party content or images check the source…  (link below to help).

So, what is the point? You may make a fast buck off the back of someone else’s content, but what then? How is that business? How is it ethical? How can you look your clients in the eye knowing it’s not really your voice?

The thing is there really is no need for it – if you truly like someone’s work, mention it by all means, credit them for it – invite them to do a guest blog, joint venture… there is so much more you can do than copy. Never be afraid to ask to work with someone just because they are in the same market as you – there is plenty of business out there, for honest, authentic, ethical people…

So, think you’ve been copied? Here are my top resources to find out if someone has been sniffing around your content…  – this site is the mutts nuts for searching on images. As all my images are either purchased from Fotolia or created by myself, or OH, I’ve used this site for finding out where I can purchase images I like, where a photo’s location is, and also who’s been lifting my images! – perfect for articles, blog posts or any other text – I’ve used this previously on documents that have been ghost written for me or one of my clients, thankfully all passed with flying colours! – great site for checking whole web pages of content.

And of course, what do you do when you find out your work has been copied?

Check out what the Intellectual Property Office has to say (UK):

What about the Scrapers? How do you find out if your work is being scraped? 

You can use Trackbacks, by inserting several internal links into your posts, or set up a Google Alert to notify you if your blog title is published elsewhere, or regular plagiarism checks on Copyscape (see link above).

What about prevention? How do you stop them copying your content?

There are a few ways you can prevent content copying, this simple yet effective plugin for WordPress sites prevents the copy and past functionality:

By far my BIGGEST recommendation, is to register with Google’s Authorship – which enables you to link ALL your content to your Google account, which means you also get to see analytics for your content, help people find you through your content and distinguishes and validates your content – more awesome work from Google!