Who’s stealing your Web content?

Years ago, I had the not-fun feeling of seeing an article I had written sitting on a competing SEO company’s site (which will remain nameless.) The article was posted as if the SEO company wrote it. There was no byline, no link back to my site, no nothing.

I was pissed.

What’s worse is that the aforementioned scammy SEO argued that they owned the copyright! It wasn’t until that I showed them that the article originally appeared in a SearchDay issue did they take it down. So not cool. And did the SEO apologize? No. They said they took it down “because there was some confusion about who owned the copyright.”

It wasn’t confusing to me. That article was mine.

Unfortunately, the mad push to create value-added content makes good folks do really stupid things. Copy-stealers usually fall into one of three categories:

 – The “everything is free” copy-stealer. This person honestly has no idea that using your article would be harmful, bad or unethical. They just liked the article and wanted to put it on their site.

 – The unethical writer. This person “borrows” large sections of text in order to fulfill a current writing assignment. Although they may not copy the article completely, they will copy entire paragraphs and pass them off as theirs. What’s worse, they’ll sell their dupe article to a client. As discussed below, the client is then liable for the copyright violation.

 – The evil copyright violator. This person knows exactly what they are doing, don’t care and wait to get caught. I would lump the unethical SEO in this category.

Has this happened to you? If you’re wondering, copy a random snippet of text from one of your articles, paste it in the Google search box, put quotes around it and see what comes up. If pages are returned — be warned. Someone else may be using your content without your permission.

Additionally, many site owners and writers use Copyscape (basic searching is free, premium is .05 a search with other goodies included) to catch the copyright violation.

So, what to do?

Most violators that I’ve dealt with have fallen in the first category — they didn’t mean to do anything wrong, and they are mortified when they learned what they’ve done. I’ve had great luck emailing people and saying, “Hey, take that article down. It’s mine.”

With other folks, it may be more of a battle.

Bob Ellis, partner in Conkle, Ellis, Fergus and MacDowell, LLP and whip-smart Internet attorney had this to say about the topic:

Whether your material is copied verbatim or whether it’s “adapted,” it’s still copyright infringement. Everything you create that is your original work (text, art, scribbles, scripts, etc.) is automatically copyrighted when you create it — no need to say “copyright (c) 2015”, no need to say “all rights reserved.”

But having a copyright and being able to enforce it are two different things.

The best way to be able to enforce your copyright rights is to file a copyright registration for every piece of work you want to protect. Registration is easy — no attorney necessary — and fairly cheap: only $35 if you file online. The Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov will walk you through it.

What are the advantages of registration? Once you have registered your work, you have a legal right to sue infringers in federal court, to get an injunction ordering the infringement to stop, and to receive rather hefty “statutory damages” — that is, damages you don’t have to prove — as well as attorney fees.If you haven’t registered, all you can get is an injunction and actual damages, the ones you have to prove.

Any person or company that posts your work on their site is liable; not just the web developer who may have been the true culprit. If the only infringer is an individual without much money you could end up spending a lot of money for an injunction, and there would be no money for damages or attorney fees.If a major corporation infringes your copyright, a credible threat will probably produce a quick, favorable settlement for you, but if they are determined they could spend unlimited amounts on lawyers to grind you down and string things out.

An online service provider on whose servers the infringing copies happen to reside is NOT considered an infringer, but you can even send the service provider a demand that the infringing material be removed, and they are required by law to respond.

Copyright violation can be fairly common in today’s “the Internet is free” environment. The key is catching it — fast. After all, you’ve put time, money and effort in your content. Why let someone else use it for free and without attribution?





Internet, Online or Web — the great marketing debate.

Marketing debate

Lee Odden sparked an interesting debate on his blog about the terminology used to describe our industry. Check it out to share your opinion on whether to call it Internet Marketing, Online Marketing or Web Marketing.

Ten common SEO copywriting myths

SEO copywriting myths - question mark

During every conference, someone comes up to me and says, “I’ve heard that you can…” – and proceeds to tell me about a spammy technique that they “just learned” or a brilliant idea that their IT department “just thought of.”

There are a lot of SEO copywriting myths out there. It’s scary, actually.

During SMX West, Jill Whalen discussed some common SEO copywriting myths – which was a brilliant idea. I’ve included some of Jill’s myths and added my own. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

  • I should put all my keywords on my home page. Nope, this won’t help at all. Instead, use your overarching keyphrases on your home page- and use more specific keyphrases on your subcategory and product-level pages. Besides, nothing looks sadder than a keyphrase-stuffed home page.
  • My site is only relevant for five keyphrases. Not true! Even the smallest sites can be relevant for a number of keyphrases. Keyphrase research will shine the light on your true keyphrase potential.
  • Keyphrase-stuffing is A-OK. This was never OK and never will be. First, the search engines think it’s spam. Second, stuffing your copy will completely decimate your tone, feel and conversion flow. It’s just not worth it.
  • Invisible text works great! It may…for awhile…until you get caught. Invisible text is another big search-engine no-no.
  • Anyone can be a SEO copywriter. True, anyone can be a SEO copywriter. But it’s more important to work with good SEO copywriters. Consider training your in-house writers on SEO copywriting best practices – and only hire folks who can demonstrate relevant experience.
  • It’s all about the search engines. Yes, search engine positioning is important. What is also important is creating compelling, high-value text that resonates with your target market. Remember, the search engines don’t pay your bills. Your customers do
  • I can stuff my Title, right? Wrong. Title-stuffing is far from SEO best practices. Besides, why not create a compelling, “clickable” Title that gets your prospect’s attention?
  • Prospects don’t want to read a lot of copy. Prospects will read a lot of copy – if it’s relevant and if it’s presented well. A solid copy block of 1,000 words will freak out the average reader. However, that same 1,000 words in an easy-to-read format could gain good readership. Test different formats and see what works for your readers.
  • The first conversion opportunity is when a customer clicks-through to my site. Actually, your first conversion opportunity is the search engine results page. A good Title and description will encourage SERP click-throughs -so use techniques like the Google Snippet Trick to gain better conversions.
  • I have to write exactly 250 words for good search positioning. Writing 250 words has always been a rule of thumb. Sometimes, writing more copy is just fine. Sometimes, you can’t write 250 words about a product or service no matter how hard you try. Copy length depends on the overall SEO content stategy, what you’re writing about and a host of other factors. Don’t tie yourself down to a specific word count.

Where, oh where, should company names appear in the Title?

red-computer-mouse.jpgJakob Nielsen wrote an interesting article about where the company name should appear in the Title. Prior to this, Nielsen believed that the company name should never be frontloaded. Now, he says to analyze the top five SERP results for your main keyterms and consider:

  • Are competitor Titles “junk” (as he calls them.) If so, put your company name at the beginning. A well-known brand name has build-in trust – and can encourage click-through.
  • If competing Titles are what Nielsen calls “meaningful,” put your company name at the end of the Title – and create a Title that’s “solutions oriented.”

(As a side note, I’m not sure if I agree with one thing. Top-ranking pages may not have “junky Titles.” Sure, the Titles may not be the best – but they are [hopefully] far from the keyword-and-pipe structure from years ago.)

My thought is – why not have the best of both worlds? I would argue that Titles (whenever possible) include some sort of keyphrase-rich call to action or benefit (otherwise known as a “solutions oriented Title”) and branding. If it’s a well-known brand, I typically suggest the brand appears first in the Title. If it’s not, I put it at the end. But that’s just a general rule of thumb – I’ll do different things for different clients and test results.

Detlev Johnson (who forwarded me this article,) has seen better conversions with the company name being first -and discusses why the search engines “expect” the Title first. in his latest Search Return article.

What have you noticed? Do you place the Title first or last and why?

Don’t confuse fluffy “marketease” with good SEO copywriting

No fluffy SEO copywritingIt’s true that customers don’t want to read your B.S. But they do expect good copywriting.

In Tim’s latest article, Cut Out the B.S. to Increase Conversions,” Tim discusses “marketease,” saying, “Unfortunately, your landing page was probably written in this kind of over-the-top promotional style. It usually involves a lot of boasting and unsubstantiated claims. If your company is the “world’s leading provider” of something, you are in good company.”

I would agree that this kind of writing is “marketease” – or what I have called “fluffy copy.” Surf for five minutes, and you’ll see fluffy copy-filled sites everywhere. Headlines scream, “We’re the best” and the copy shouts, “We’re the worlds largest!” You’ll see lots of bolded type, exclamation points and used-car salesperson hype. But you won’t see anything that will make you want to buy.

However, this is not good copywriting. Good copywriting uses facts – not fluff. It does not scream “we’re the best,” unless there is a third-party testimonial to back it up. It does not hide the product under the weight of so many words that readers can’t see the benefits. Fluffy copy reads horribly, sounds smarmy and people tend to distrust it. Like Tim implies, it increases the reader’s cognitive load.

Some copy is meant to be informative. Other copy is meant to be persuasive. The key is writing the right copy with the right tone and feel that the reader wants to read at that moment.

So focus your site on writing good copy. It’s OK to put “power words” in your headlines – a compelling headline leads to greater conversions. Yes, use benefit statements. If you are the “world’s best something,” go ahead and say it – if you can back it up. But yes, stay away from fluff. Your readers (and your conversions) will thank you.