Stealing the thoughts of other content creators is an unethical, unprofessional, and often an illegal thing to do. Unfortunately, plagiarism still remains a problem of epic proportions because it is easier to copy someone’s text instead of writing anew.
To fight the Internet thieves, you’ve got to be prepared accordingly. For example, you need to know the steps you need to make to identify the stolen content and let Google know about the theft.
I understand, this may be not what you signed up for but fighting back is something you absolutely have to do if faced with plagiarism.
To help you, we are going to review effective methods you can use to save your content from being stolen.
The War for Excellent Content
High-quality content that appeals to Internet users and is created according to the latest SEO principles is often a target for those who look to increase traffic on their sites without applying too much effort. As the result, they achieve this at someone else’s expense, if appropriate action is not taken.
Google has made it very difficult for websites with unoriginal content to exist by updating its algorithms that define quality websites. However, this does not mean that SEO wars are over. Read further to know what to do when someone steals your content.
Step 1. Determine if Your Content Has Been Stolen
This is a great tool for scanning the net for information regarding your site. It produces Google results based on specific criteria identified by the user. It’s very simple to use it: just go to Google Alerts, enter the search text that the alerts will be based on and identify an email where they should be delivered (or they will be sent to the Gmail account if you’re logged in with Google).
For example, let’s use the first suggestion from the list, “Amazon.” The dropdown menu “Show Options” will appear just below the search bar (or on the right if you’re not signed in).
There you can set the frequency of the alerts, sources, language, region, and the email you’d like the messages to be delivered to. If you’re signed in with Gmail, it will be displayed as the inbox for delivery.
To create a content-specific alert, just copy the text that you would like checked in the search bar and get a notification when it’s used by someone. It’ll work just like anti-plagiarism software detecting an unoriginal content in a paper writing and letting the professor know about the issue.
The next tool is also super easy. All you have to do is insert the URL of your website into the box at the homepage. Copyscape discovers the sites where your content appears, thus allowing you to find and address stolen content easily.
Don’t forget that you always can look for your content manually. Just copy an excerpt from the text and Google it. If you need to search visual information, Google’s image search is the perfect option for you.
Step 2. Take an Action
If your decision is to fight the fight and demand the content to be removed, follow these steps:
Take a Screenshot
Having a screenshot of the site with the stolen content is critical because it provides evidence in case you have to provide it. So, grab the image of every page with your content as well as the URL of the site (don’t crop the screenshot!)
Send an Email to the Offender
In many cases, it is wise to send a direct image to the suspected thief before reporting it to Google. So, look for the email address on that site and ask to remove the content. If you’re having trouble finding the site, just use Whois Lookup service. It provides contact information of every registrar of a site.
Report the Offender
If you received no reply for your friendly email to remove the content, the only option remaining is to report the offender. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can report them to their host company. Second, if you can report them to their platform in case they are publishing on a blogspot page or another non-self-hosted service.
Get in Touch with a Search Engine
Given that Google and other search engines are very serious about plagiarism, you can contact them to resolve the issue. In order to do that, you must file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint (here is the Google’s starting page that allows to fill the DMCA form, but you can use Bing and Yahoo as well). To get a reply and have the content removed, you have to wait. The waiting time depends and could be anywhere between several hours and several weeks.
Step 3. Prevent Your Content from Being Stolen
Of course, there is no sure way to make sure that nobody will use your content but there are a number of tips that can help:
- Place a copyright notice at a prominent place of every website’s page; for example: Copyright 2017 John Johnson. Also, you can use DMCA’s website protection badges.
- Create a Google Authorship profile and claim your content. This way, you can link it with your profile on Google+.
- Apply for copyright at copyright.gov. Just download a special copyright form and mail it as instructed.
- Develop usage guidelines for your content. Take a look at the guidelines developed by Hubspot and create your own. They will be very helpful in case you have to provide content sharing rules during a dispute.
Stealing content is an unacceptable action that should be prevented, and, if needed, punished. Fortunately, one can determine a thief very easily and hold them accountable. Although there is no sure-fire way to protect your content, knowing what to do in this situation is certainly helpful knowledge.