It seems nearly everyone has a blog these days. Some are hobby blogs, others are blogs set up for content marketing purposes, and others are a bit more devious. These devious blogs are often called SPAM blogs or “splogs” and get their content by stealing yours.
Often referred to as scraping content, these blogs can ruin your hard work. For a business trying to make money, scrapers can do quite a bit of harm. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to thwart these online content thieves and keep control of the content you produce.
Use The rel=”canonical” Tag
While only a hint, the rel=”canonical” tag lets Google and other search engines know which version of a page is the original. Scrapers may try to use this tag, but if you can get your page indexed first, you should “win” and be recognized as the rightful owner.
To get a head start on being seen as the original, and making rel=”canonical” more effective, there are a few quick steps to take. First, share your content on social networks like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Second, bookmark your new page on sites like Stumbleupon and Delicious. Third, go ahead and leave a few valuable blog comments with the URL of the new page in the web address field.
Last but not least, if you think this piece of content is something really special, email a few other bloggers to let them know what you’ve done and ask if they’ll help you get the word out on their blogs and to their social followings.
Maximize The Benefit Of RSS
RSS is the main way that scrapers steal content. You can always disable your RSS feed, but that limits the number of ways people can subscribe to your site. A better option is to use RSS to build links to your site.
WordPress makes this easy by way of the RSS Footer plugin. Each time you make a post, the RSS feed will be updated with that post, as well as links back to the post and your homepage.
Note that Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin places links in your footer already, but not everyone uses that plugin.
It is also important that you make use of a smart internal linking structure. Link to related posts and important pages so they are included in your RSS feed as well.
While links from scraper sites won’t drive your pages to the top of the search engines, they will rarely hurt. These links, assuming they are not removed by the person behind the scraper site, will also help the search engines to identify the original page. It may take some time, but every little bit counts.
Most WordPress sites attempt to notify other sites when you link to them. This takes place in the form of a trackback. If you receive a trackback, take the time to investigate the blog linking to yours. If the site appears to be a scraper, and you will know since it will be your content on the page you are investigating, you have options.
If your site outranks the scraper site, you can let it be and take the link you just got. That probably will make most people uncomfortable. In this case, filing a DMCA takedown request with Google can get the page removed from Google’s search results. While not very simple, it is an effective way to ensure you maintain the recognized ownership of your content.
Set Up Google Alerts
The last of the simple steps to preventing content theft online is to set up Google Alerts. Place the exact match of your content’s title in the alert field using double quotation marks. Each time this headline shows up elsewhere, you will get an email so you can then investigate and decide what to do.
Of all of these steps, this is by far the easiest. It also has the added benefit of letting you know when real blogs reference your site. You can then comment, email or reach out to them on social media to form a relationship that is beneficial to the both of you.
These are just a few simple steps to help you protect your work online. The internet provides incredible opportunity to both the good people, as well as the bad. Luckily, simple steps usually provide the greatest return.
If these steps are not enough, you can always go a step further. While appealing, do your best to leverage the work of these scrapers and thieves to your benefit. You may be surprised at the benefit you can get with a little work and a touch of cleverness.
@JulianaPayson is an associate at InMotion Hosting, a top ten web-hosting company well known for their tech support and knowledge base in helping out new webmasters. Juliana curates content for their 100k+ newsletter subscribers and web hosting news blog. If you have any tips to share with their web-professional audience, please get in touch with Juliana on Google Plus.