Someone is Stealing My Blog Posts! What Now?
Someone is stealing your blog posts. All of that hard work brainstorming, researching, and thinking of something original to say. They just copy and paste the whole thing and pass it off as their own. I know it makes your blood boil, because it did mine when it happened to me a few weeks ago.
After I got over my initial shock, I kindly emailed the site and asked them to either take it down or give a link back to the original article on our site. They complied by removing the post and that was that. But what would have happened had they not complied? And was it worth my time in the first place to research the contact person and carefully craft a polite yet direct email?
Since that time, I’ve considered the ramifications of someone stealing blog content. Other than the emotional reaction of feeling like someone is cheating you out of your work, what actual impact does the stolen content have on your site’s search engine optimization (SEO)?
Impact on SEO
“Duplicate content” is taboo when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but there is some confusion as to the actual impact of duplicate content. Google does not punish sites for duplicate content from outside your domain. Even inside your domain, some duplication of content is to be expected. Because Google (and other search engines) want to show relevant search results they will typically just filter out duplicate content and only display the “original” article with a link to show all the filtered, duplicate results. Google claims to “do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.” While this is a comforting statement, it does not always work that way in practice.
Since most of the sites that steal blog posts are doing so using a “scraper” program, we can trick the scraper into providing a link back to the original article. Find someplace (header, footer, middle of the content) where you feel comfortable inserting a line like “Original Article: [insert url]”. This will do a few key things:
- It is preemptive so that it does not create more work to monitor and manage.
- It helps Google determine which article is the real original.
- It guides visitors back to your site.
The second preemptive measure you can perform is to delay the updating of your RSS feed for some period of time to give you an opportunity to submit your new post to Google Webmaster Tools. This way your original post will be indexed first, before any site scrapers can duplicate the content.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to pursue the thieves beyond the preemptive strike, but if you want to there a few options available to you.
- Send a polite email asking them to remove the stolen post
- Request that Google remove the page from their results via a DMCA request.
- As a final resort you can use WhoIs to find out who the host provider is and ask them to take down the site, citing their Terms of Service.
While you hear a lot about duplicate content when you are around SEO professionals, Google does a good job of handling it most of the time. So don’t worry too much when your blog post is stolen: the extra exposure and preemptive link to the original article could lead to a higher search engine rank for your article, leading to more clicks and more visits to your site.