You’re checking positions for a page you wrote, and you see something that stops you in your tracks…
Another site has taken your content and has claimed it as their own. There’s no link, no byline, nothing. They copied your page and pasted it into their site.
What’s worse, the page is positioning for the keyphrases you targeted.
Unfortunately, content theft happens all the time — even to smaller sites.
Sometimes, it’s because the offender is totally clueless and thinks it’s OK to post your content on their site.
Sometimes, it’s because the site owner paid for “original” content and an unscrupulous writer copied your post and sold it as their own.
Sometimes, it’s because someone wants to steal your content (and traffic) because they are too lazy to do things the right way. I had a large SEO agency do this to me.
And sometimes (fortunately, not as often,) someone is doing it to target your site specifically and to hurt your rankings.
Fortunately, you DO have recourse — and there are things you can do.
Here’s how to handle content theft (ugh)…
Best case scenario, all it takes is an email to the site owner that says, “The article originally appeared on my site. You need to take it down.”
The site owner may email you back and beg for forgiveness. Or, you may not hear a peep out of them — but the post magically disappears.
When the above SEO company swiped my article, it took a couple emails to the CEO to set things right again. But, I got it taken down. (Oddly, the CEO kept insisting he wrote the article, and he only took it down after “agreeing to disagree.” That still irks me to this day.)
So, what happens if your “hey, take it down” email goes into a deep, dark hole and nobody responds?
Fortunately, you have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on your side. This means you can do two things:
You can file a signed DMCA notice with the offending site’s web host. This site helps you track down the host and has an easy-to-use DMCA notice generator. Some hosts may require you to mail this information, while others have an online form.
You can go straight to Google and file a complaint. Google is typically very responsive and will sometimes respond to DMCA notices the same day (at least, that’s what happened when I’ve had to do it.)
Here’s what the form looks like — and you have the option of choosing, “I have found content that may violate my content” on another page:
If you’re short on time, there are also companies that will handle this for you. You can Google [DMCA takedown companies] for a list.
Know this process can be extremely time-consuming. It takes a long time to research URLs, to make a list of offending pages, and to submit notices.
Plus, the process is like playing wack-a-mole. You may “beat” one content thief, just to have another pop up in its place.
That’s why some people choose not to bother with it unless the stolen content is out-positioning theirs.
The good news is, it’s extremely fun to see stolen content disappear from Google’s search index. And oh-so-satisfying when it’s gone.
What about you?
Have you had someone steal your content? What did you do? Is it still there? Hit “reply” and let me know!