How can someone steal your online content?
“Scraping” is the unauthorised automated vacuuming up of bulk content by bots that copy and paste to a third party website to all intents and purposes publishing it as their own.
As I discovered recently when a number of my celebrant blogs appeared on another celebrant’s overseas website and social media.
I am sharing my experience so that you know your options to protect the copyright of your own online content if you suspect that someone is stealing your blog.
Is copied content detrimental to your website?
My immediate reaction on seeing my blog copied and pasted to another person’s website under a new URL (uniform resource locator aka the web address) was that it would negatively affect my SEO (search engine optimisation).
- I was very angry as I had always been taught that Google penalises duplicated content.
- With two pieces of text that are exactly the same, which one would Google direct the traffic to?!?
I bombed all of the offender’s social media platforms with comments saying that his post was unauthorised and emailed a very strongly worded demand that he remove my content from his site.
This certainly got the little oik’s attention! He explained that it was “an automatic curated post” using third party systems and agreed to remove the content.
Needless to say the content remained online and when he stole another blog of mine complete with images which were subject to a publishing contract, I emailed him a “cease and desist” demand.
Any and all celebrant content is considered fair game by weddingcelebrantasia.com who operates a policy of scraping.
celebrantspain.es was replaced by weddingcelebrantasia.com. As you can see from the screen grab above, it looks like I am now a celebrant in Phuket!!!
Does duplicate content affect your SEO?
I opened the debate on a couple of celebrant community Facebook groups and was inundated with similar stories from colleagues across all sectors of the business and in all corners of the world who all realised that their content was also being deliberately stolen by this unscrupulous celebrant.
We set up a Messenger group and began sharing knowledge and legal expertise. Several web design and SEO experts offered their advice and we began to learn that duplicate content is not always detrimental to your website.
It wasn’t just individual celebrants who were subjects of this content “scraping”, at least two of the big celebrant community sites were similarly affected.
Danielle Garber from Be More You Online recorded a short video relevant to the experience of one of the directory sites.
Are all backlinks good for SEO?
When a big, reputable site such as https://weddingindustryjournal.com/ links back to your website, Google sees this as a good thing. If The Wedding Industry Journal trusts you, then Google will too.
A back link is most commonly a few words of text with a hyperlink to your website URL followed by a slash and the name of your blog.
For example, this coloured text is a backlink. The hyperlink text behind the highlighted words looks like this:
The website is “hostgator.com” and the blog is “copyright-wordpress-blog”
As long as the duplicated content credits the original published text with a backlink then Danielle Garber says that Google is clever enough to know to direct the traffic to the original source site. In fact, she goes on to say that you may even benefit from the backlink.
Canonical link addresses change the URL
What still does not sit well with me however, is that these automatic curated systems vacuuming up other people’s blogs also change the website address of the original post.
- For example, my website is celebrantspain.es
- I wrote a blog called secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding-celebrant-spain
- The original code on my website directed search engines to the blog on my website like this
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://celebrantspain.es/secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding-celebrant-spain/” />
- weddingcelebrantasia.com took my blog content, put their own website address in front and changed the canonical address like this
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://weddingcelebrantasia.com/secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding-celebrant-spain/” /
For blog support do check out our Business Directory
As you can see from this screen grab, it looks like Celebrant Spain is now a celebrant in Phuket!!!
Reposting social media without proper credit
As you can see from a screen grab of an unauthorised post of my Celebrant Spain blog on LinkedIn by weddingcelebrantasia.com the publishing of scraped content can become misleading.
Because of the changed to the canonical address, my Celebrant Spain name is now associated with THEIR weddingcelebrantasia website – horror of horrors should someone reading the post think that I actually work for the Phuket business! This post was replicated on Facebook and Instagram as well.
If this happens to you on any social media platform
- comment on the post asking for it to be removed
- and click on the three little dots to [REPORT] the post in violation of your intellectual property rights
The image below is of a Facebook post that also appears in Instagram in which Wedding Celebrant Asia takes the image of one of my lovely celebrant colleagues in Greece and confuses it with a text description of me (Debbie Skyrme, Celebrant Spain)…. linking to the unauthorised duplicate blog about celebrants in Greece!
This Facebook post confuses text about Celebrant Spain with the image of a lovely celebrant colleague in Greece
Can you copyright protect your blog content?
Although I have learned a lot through this experience, I am most certainly not an expert in the field of copyright protection.
In future, I will be
- Updating the year and the copyright symbol (c) on the footer of every page of my website
- Adding a statement identifying me as the author of the content of any blogs and not permitting the unauthorised reproduction of the text or images
- Not taking any prisoners!!!
This is one of the most comprehensive information pieces about copyright protecting your WordPress website
This is another excellent general information piece about what to do if you think someone has stolen your online content
And finally, if you are a celebrant and want to check if your content has been appropriated in a similar way to mine, search for two social media profiles weddingcelebrantphuket and weddingcelebrantasia – and copy and paste this link into your browser to scroll through about 30 web pages of scraped celebrant content.
Author credit: (c) Debbie Skyrme 2021 This content was authored by Debbie Skyrme and originally published on https://weddingindustryjournal.com/
Unauthorised publishing of the text or image content in part or in full is strictly forbidden.