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Protect Yourself Against Content Theft
Posted on March 8th 2013
Have you been the victim of content theft? Unfortunately, the more popular your content and the greater its visibility, the more likely it is to be stolen. Finding your meticulously researched and high-quality content masquerading as original on someone else's blog or website is without doubt very vexing. What can content creators do to safeguard against content theft or mitigate the damage after the fact? It is critical that Google recognize you as the rightful author of your original content so that your search rankings do not suffer. You do not want your content getting mistakenly branded as counterfeit or spam.
I have discovered exact copies of my content reposted without my byline or any link to the originals, which is a big faux pas in my book. There is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the content of others. However, if you wish to directly incorporate content that you admire, provide proper attribution and a link to the original. Imagine that you have created some killer content, which is featured by top industry websites and shared on social networks by influencers and thought leaders. Your content is starting to go viral. You are thrilled with the amplified reach and visibility until realizing that your related website traffic suddenly takes a dive and that your original content disappears from Google SERPs (search engine results pages).
You investigate the matter and discover that some black-hat digital thief has pulled a fast one with a carbon copy of your content—reposting it to a number of keyword-centric content farms. His actions have seriously derailed the keyword strategy and SEO of your original work. The thief has co-opted your rightful spotlight and made a break for a clean getaway. Throw a wrench in his plans; do not let this happen to your content. Safeguard your original work, and strive to protect your reputation as an author. There are ways to prevent content theft and resolve it after the fact, so let us dive right in.
5 Ways to Safeguard Your Original Content
1. Google to the Rescue!
Report duplicate content with your Google Webmaster account. You can report spam and stolen content to Google right here. It is important for Google to know that you are the originator of your own content, which is where Google Authorship and AuthorRank can play a major role. Unfortunately, some content writers are creating killer content, only to have it outranked by counterfeit versions. Implementing the rel=author meta tag for all your content allows you to publicly declare it as your own original work. Even if someone else posts your stolen content, they will be uncovered by Google and penalized according. Google Authorship is a powerful first line of defense against content theft. Put the following steps into action:
Edit your Google+ pages—both personal and business. Inform Google that you are an author for the websites that feature your content by adding their URLs to the “Contributor to” section.
Create links from your content to your Google+ page. This step is easy, if you have email addresses on the same domains as the websites you added to the “Contributor to” section. Visit the Google Plus Authorship page to enter your email addresses. If this is not an option for you, you must add the following HTML code to the text of all your original content: <a href="[your profile URL]?rel=author">Google</a>.
Test your content to verify that your Authorship set-up was effective by entering one of your article’s URLs into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Your Google+ profile picture, byline and “More by [your profile name]” should show up in the sample search results.
2. Be Vigilant.
Stay on the lookout, and properly identify the extent of any damage. Google is committed to fighting content spam and vehemently against outright content theft, which lacks proper attribution. To check for counterfeiting, take a few sentences from the middle of your published content, and perform an “exact match” Google search by wrapping your selection with double quotes. If your domain is the only one that shows up in the SERPs, your content has not been stolen, or Google has already removed any offending content farms from its index.
3. Include Calls to Action.
Ensure that all your original content has effective CTAs for premium offers. Always include a few internal links to other relevant, original content on your website. This way, if a carbon copy of your content gets posted on another website, the CTA could still generate leads and links back to your website. Additionally, the links you include in the original would be tallied as inbound links for your website, which is beneficial to you.
4. Rat the Guy Out!
Investigate the website that is hosting your stolen content, and search for any ads being displayed by an advertising network. There is often information listed about which ad network is being used. Such a network could be paying someone else for use of your original content. If possible, contact the ad network directly, and rat out your content thief. Most ad networks will quickly remove the counterfeit content, as they do not relish the idea of being associated with spam or unscrupulous content creators.
Consider running a WhoIs report on the domain where your stolen content is posted. Like ad networks, ISPs (internet service providers) generally do want to associate with content counterfeiters. Usually, the company handling the DNS Nameserver also does the hosting. Contact the company directly to call out your content thief. Even if the company is not the host, they should be willing to reveal the host’s identity.
5. Put Analytics to Work.
Use analytic tools to prevent and identify content breaches. Analytic software packages can help you identify shady uses of your content and uncover the IP addresses associated with offenders, especially if theft is perpetrated through an automated method. Be on the lookout for website visits with a high page-view count and low time on each page, which arrive by direct traffic. Once you know who they are, work with your tech-savvy team to block such individuals from visiting your website. Tynt can provide a certain level of content protection. According to Tynt, 82% of online content is created “via copy and paste.”
Spend time investigating the possible theft of your content. Optimize your Google+ page, and enable Google Authorship before your search rankings are negatively impacted. Do not let counterfeiters steal your thunder or abscond with your rightful content spotlight.