It happens all the time: An ambitious entrepreneur wants to setup a website in a hurry, and there just isn’t enough time to properly fill it up with unique, well-written content. Quick! What’s the fastest way to add content to a website? Do a Google search for similar websites, copy and paste text from your findings, make a few edits, and you’re ready to go in minutes.
It all seems so convenient, but when it comes to search engine rankings, duplicate content can lead to big problems. If your website’s content isn’t original, Google can tell, and you can forget about ranking well for relevant keywords. What’s more, if you’re stealing another website’s content, you’re likely doing harm to the original owner’s rankings. Sooner or later, they’ll notice a decrease in traffic and wonder why they’re no longer on the first page of Google for their targeted terms. Care to guess what they’ll do next? They’ll come looking for content thieves, and the guilty parties could end up in trouble.
Have your search engine rankings and traffic fallen as of late? Are you wondering if your website might be affected by content theft? Read on to learn how you can check and fix duplicated or stolen content issues.
How to Check for Duplicate Content
Copyscape is the most popular tool for detecting stolen content. Simply visit the website, enter a URL into the search field and click “Go.” Copyscape will then search the web for content that is suspiciously similar to your own. Note that Copyscape isn’t free. You’re limited to only a few queries unless you purchase a Copyscape Premium account.
Our favorite solution for stolen content protection, Copysentry is a subscription-based program (starting as low as $4.95 a month) that automatically scans your website on a daily or weekly basis, reporting any instances of content theft to you by email. This is a highly convenient tool that can save you a lot of hassle and frustration, allowing you to defend yourself from content theft as soon as it occurs and protect your search engine rankings in turn.
Similar to Copyscape, Plagiarisma allows you to test a single URL or copy and paste a web page’s text. It is surprisingly thorough and well worth a look if you’re interested in manually checking for duplicate content. You’re able to perform quite a few queries with the free version, but there is a paid version that offers unlimited usage.
The Google Method
A simple way to check if your content appears anywhere on the web is to copy and paste a line of text that appears in your website’s copy into Google. Try and choose a sentence or two at a time (no more than 30 or so characters) that doesn’t contain your company’s name or location (content thieves will edit this sort of information to match their own company), but ensure that it’s a fairly long and not overly-generic sentence that you wouldn’t expect to show up on websites other than your own. Now, once you’ve pasted your content into Google, place quotation marks at the beginning and end of the sentence. Now hit search.
You’ll see one of four results:
- A single page from your own website appears. Congratulations! No one has stolen that sentence from you.
- Multiple pages from your own website appear. While no one has stolen this particular sample of content, there appears to be some aspect of your website that is generating duplicate content issues. Better look into that, because it could be affecting your search engine rankings.
- The sentence shows up on more than just your website. Browse through the results to determine just how extensive the stolen content issue might be.
- No results show up in Google. In this case, search engines may be having difficulty crawling your website to index your content. In this case, you need to figure out how to make your website more search engine friendly.
Please note that the Google Method is a quick, easy and free method for spot checking your content every now and again. If you have a large website containing many pages filled with a lot content, this method isn’t feasible for testing your entire website, and you’ll benefit from using an actual program to protect your content.
How to Fix Content Theft Issues
So you’ve located a website that has unscrupulously stolen content from your website, and now you want to do something about it. The first thing to do is visit Kloth.net and use their NSLOOKUP utility. You simply enter in the offending website’s domain name (e.g. dirtycontenthieves.com), and you’ll receive the IP address, which looks a little something like this:
Copy this number and head over to Arin.net. Enter the IP number into the SEARCH Whois field on the upper-right side of the page. In return, you’ll receive the name of the hosting company associated with the website.
Next, you’ll want to visit the hosting company’s website (which may take a little Google detective work) and find out how to contact their abuse department. This often involves sending an email to an address that resembles the following: email@example.com.
Have you found the hosting company’s Abuse Department email address? Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and type up a DMCA takedown notice. For information about writing a properly formatted DMCA takedown notice, go here. The hosting company should reply to your email within a day or so with an update, and even if they haven’t, be sure to check the offending website every so often to see if any changes have been made. If the hosting company is unresponsive, your best option is to continually hound them until your stolen content is taken down from the website. In all of our experiences with stolen content, this method has always worked like a charm.
If you feel that you’re the victim of stolen content, and you’d like to learn more about checking or fixing duplicate content issues, feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you very soon.