It’s a fact of publishing on the Internet: Sooner or later, someone is going to copy your content without your permission.
Sometimes, your writing, recipes, or photography can be lifted by someone with the best of intentions. Often, a fellow food blogger may simply be trying to pay homage to your original recipe, or may have used it for the basis of a recipe of their own, and they just don’t know about how to properly credit their original source.
Other times, however, your content is stolen by so-called content “scrapers,” automated bots that copy your hard work in order to populate bogus blogs, in an effort to rage pageviews and make the unscrupulous “blogger” a few pennies using Google Adsense.
No matter what the intent was of the person who copied your content, seeing your work replicated word-for-word on another website can be not just irritating, but detrimental to your blog. Google and other major search engines don’t like duplicate content, and if their spiders see two copies of the same post on two different websites, your blog can be penalized in the search rankings, even if the content was yours to begin with. Search engines will only show one instance of the copied content in search results, and sometimes, your version of the content will be the one that is penalized.
So, what do you do when you find your content has been lifted? You have a few options.
Your first response should be to contact the poster of the duplicate content, and ask them to address your concerns. This is effective 90% of the time for good, honest blogs that may have duplicated your content by mistake. It won’t get you anywhere with content scrapers, though, who know that they are violating copyrights, and depend on the fact that it’s difficult for you to do anything about it.
If you receive no response from the poster of the content, your next steps should be to contact the hosting company that the thief’s site is hosted on. If they are not cooperative, you can also contact Google Adsense (or whatever ad network the site in question is using) and report a violation of their terms of service. Chances are, if you can shut down a blogger’s revenue stream, the site will soon disappear.
Though these are both excellent head-on approaches to solving the problem of stolen content, it can be difficult and time-consuming to track down content thieves, contact them, and pursue a resolution. Even if you manage to have your duplicate content removed this time, thousands more content scrapers are waiting right around the corner to crawl your site and steal more of your content.
Recently, I have been using another solution. It may not be for everyone.
It’s a philosophical choice, really. On our blog, From Away, content theft was becoming such a problem that rather than try to continue to fight it directly, we had to come to terms with the fact that it would always be an issue, and that we would have to find a way to have content thieves work for us.
That’s where the Tynt suite of free publishing tools enters the picture.
Tynt provides tons of publishing tools for food bloggers, including sophisticated keyword and social media analytics. My favorite feature of theirs, though, is their “Tynt SEO” service. Add a small snippet of code to your blog’s header information, and suddenly, the content thieves start working for you. Every time any text is copied and pasted from your site, Tynt SEO steps in and appends a “read more” link at the bottom of the copied content, with a link back to the original source: Your food blog!
This simple, invisible change to your website creates hundreds or even thousands of organic backlinks to your food blog each week. Though you still face possible penalty from search engines for duplicate content, the increased number of incoming links to your site seems like a healthy SEO trade-off. Theoretically, if a search spider finds two pieces of duplicate content and is forced to decide which site is the more valuable resource, the one with hundreds of incoming backlinks (thanks, in part, to Tynt) should be enough to convince the spider that yours is the more valuable resource, and that yours is the version that should be shown during a search. With the addition of one snippet of code, you’ve got all of the content scrapers and thieves unknowingly creating valuable backlinks to your site.
This approach may not be for everyone. Some people are so horrified by the theft of their content, that they simply can’t abide by letting it sit out there on the Internet, even on scraper sites that no human beings actually read. That’s fine; it’s a personal choice. I’m happy, however, to have found a new tool that turns people who steal my content into little search engine optimization worker bees, giving my website a boost in the rankings every time they copy and paste my content. If you can’t beat the thieves, at least you can have them working for you.
Disclaimer: I don’t work for Tynt, or have any kind of financial or affiliate relationship with that company. The above recommendation is unsolicted, and is a reflection of my experience using the Tynt publisher tools.