If you start a blog that’s even mildly successful, people will steal the content. Some will outright copy it, others will imitate it, and a whole lot more will thinly re-write it. That’s par for the course for blogging, but what can you do about it?
In some ways, the internet can be like the wild west, but you do have options for dealing with stolen blog content. You don’t want other blogs to benefit from your hard work. It pays to know how to get them to back off.
In this article, we’ll discuss how common a problem stolen blog content is and how to find out if someone is copying yours. Then we’ll discuss some of the methods you can use to stop copycats. Let’s get to work!
The Problem With Stolen Blog Content
Stolen blog content is everywhere. I’m willing to bet you good money if you visit any popular blog you follow and reverse search some of its content, you’ll find duplicates around the web:
Blogging is extremely competitive and there are a lot of people that make a living out of boosting content from other sites and publishing it as their own. Search engines penalize duplicates, though, so those people know enough to tweak the articles until they become ‘distinct’ enough.
That technique is what we call spinning content. It may not be an exact copy of your words, but it’s basically the same in spirit. It’s also important to understand that stolen blog content isn’t the same as taking another post as inspiration.
To give you an example, in the past, we’ve talked about using the skyscraper technique. That involves checking out top posts for specific keywords, studying their content, and seeing how you can improve it.
In those cases, you’re writing a post from scratch and it’s not stolen blog content. Due to the nature of the internet, you’ll find a lot of posts for any given topic you look up. It’s only normal that some of them cover similar information.
How to Find Out if Someone Is Copying Your Blog’s Content
Having people steal your content is common, but finding out when it happens is another issue entirely. In a lot of cases, copycats use scraping tools to rip off your posts, so it can happen almost as soon as you publish them.
What I recommend is setting up Google alerts for your top content. If most of your traffic is coming from a handful of posts, those are the ones you need to watch.
Creating an alert is easy, just type in an excerpt of your post within the search query parameter and have it run once a week. Daily is also an option, but a bit overkill, in my opinion:
You could do this for every post you publish on your blog, but that’s too much effort. At some point, spending time chasing content thieves isn’t as good an option as focusing on growing your own blog. It’s important to know where to draw the line.
How to Deal With Stolen Content as a Freelance Blogger
At some point, you’ll run into some idiot who decided to lift one of your articles wholesale. The question is, what do you do about it? It turns out you have multiple options at your disposal, including:
- Contacting the owner of the website and asking them to attribute the article to you or take it down.
- Get in touch with the thief’s web host and see what they can do about taking down the stolen content.
- Issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice, which usually kicks most web hosts into high gear.
- Pressure the thief via social media to remove the infringing articles.
If we’re talking about difficulty, options one and four are pretty straightforward. In some cases, just a quick email to the owner of the site will be enough to get attribution, which can be beneficial for SEO purposes. However, in my experience, you’ll probably get ignored.
Shaming the thief on social media might work if they’re active on it, but it’s a Hail Mary. If you want concrete action, your best bet is to get in touch directly with that website’s hosting service and talk to them about taking down the content. Should they tell you they can’t, then it’s time to unholster the DMCA golden bullet, which usually works.
Having said all that, after years of blogging, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s often not worth it to pursue content thieves. The more successful your blog grows, the more of them you’ll have to deal with. That means if you try to fight crime, you’ll end up spending more time doing that than focusing on writing.
Moreover, I’ve yet to see any tangible benefits from fighting tooth and nail to get stolen content taken down. Even when one of my blogs was getting plagiarized, that didn’t seem to stifle growth or impact its SEO in any noticeable way.
Ultimately, chasing content thieves is mostly about personal satisfaction since we don’t want to see other people benefit from our work. However, I’d still say you’re better off ignoring them altogether except in cases when one or more websites continue to do it over a long period of time. One article here and there we can overlook. However, if you try to steal my whole library, then you best believe you’ve got a DMCA notice coming your way!
Stolen blog content is a huge problem for most of us. Often, the best thing you can do is ignore it. In most cases, your content will rank higher unless the copycats made some massive improvements and changes to it. Moreover, chasing thieves when you can focus on writing can be a waste of time.
The only cases where we recommend taking action is if the same website continues to brazenly steal your content over time. Should that happen, you can contact their web host and issue a DMCA notice to get them to take it down, which is not as hard as it sounds.
Have you ever had to deal with stolen blog content? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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