When it comes to your blog or website, its place in the SERPs and SEO, you know that you keep hearing the same thing over and over again – whatever else you do make sure that your content is engaging, well written as well as, most importantly of all, completely unique.
Lots of great solo bloggers and small businesses who take the time to create great blogs have taken this advice to heart and spend a considerable amount of time – and often money – creating and generating the very best original content they can.
So when you discover that someone is plagiarizing your content to pass off as their own it is so galling. All that work, all that time, all that effort, and someone simply decided it was okay to copy and paste your stuff and claim that all the work was their own.
The Oldest Trick in the Book
Plagiarism is nothing new, it has been going on since the first words were written down and Internet plagiarism has, to a certain extent, been around right from the beginning of the Worldwide Web as well.
But while the author of a book or a song can go to court and sue the content thieves what can the owner of a website do about plagiarized content other than just gnash their teeth and try not to take their frustration out on their poor computer?
Going After the Bad Guys
Web content is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and several other acts, and as the real author you have plenty of rights. But just how do you even begin to exercise them?
The standard advice is that when you first discover content theft you try to reason with the owners of the stolen content, but sadly that rarely ever gets you very far. If someone has stolen your content, the chances they will be willing to open a rational dialogue about the problem are very slim.
After all, these are people who copy and paste content from other people’s sites, change a few words (sometimes, but they do not always bother to do that) and then call it their own, morals and doing the right thing are obviously not high on their list of personal values.
There are still two options available to you – complain to the offending website’s hosting company or ask Google to step in and help you.
A few large hosting companies are great. They will listen to your story and agree to try and help you. You do need to be able to prove that the content was yours in the first place but that is usually not too hard as in order for the thieves to have ripped it off in the first place you had to have published it first and dates of publication are easy to establish.
If the hosting company agrees that the content published by the site they host is indeed yours then they will remove the offending website right away.
Ask the Big G
Finding a hosting company this cooperative is not the norm, so these days the best way to deal with a online plagiarism problem is to let Google be the judge. The first step you will need to take is to complete Google’s DMCA complaint form (you can find it here)
Once the company receives it they will examine the evidence you have presented and if they find that you are correct the site owner is contacted and informed that the content – and possibly their whole site – will be removed under the provisions of the DMCA.
The company does send personal progress reports to all that file such a complaint and most people find it to be an effective process, although not always a very fast one.
With the Panda and Penguin algorithms – along with other smaller updates – Google is really cracking down on websites that just do not come up to scratch in the content department so protecting your content is more important than ever before.
To find out if your content has been plagiarized, invest in some premium credits and Copyscape.com and input the content into their interface. If you have been a victim of content theft, it will tell you so – as well as where to “find” the thieves by leading you straight to where your copy has been duplicated in just a few minutes.
Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure. So if you can prevent content theft in the first place, you and your WordPress blog can stay way ahead of the bad guys.
The problem with this is that, in the past, certain WordPress plugins bloggers used to prevent copy/pasting also blocked Google bots and those of other search engines. Not an ideal situation.
There are a few good plug-ins that do not hamper the progress of bots though. One of the best – and easiest to use – is WP Content Copy Protection & No Right Click. It protects both text and images but does not prevent proper indexing or prevent logged in admins from using copy and paste.