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How to Avoid Content Theft

Content theft is terrible, but unfortunately, it’s also all too common. You work hard on your content, and it helps you generate web traffic, a loyal customer base, and sales. No matter what type of content you are creating, if someone steals it, let’s be real: it sucks. We will walk you through some ways to check if your content is being stolen, and some ways it might be affecting your website. We can help ensure that your website is secure and give you some tips for protecting your website from content theft. 

how to avoid content theft

Definition and History of Content Theft

Content is the presentation of information on the internet, like in blog posts, on social media, you name it. If you are creating valuable content, it’s highly likely that someone might steal it.

If someone copies your website’s content and puts it on their own without a link or credit, that is content theft. 

Content theft is not new. Media sites in particular have been dealing with the theft of their content since the internet was first around. Content aggregators scrape and repurpose other websites’ content in order to attract traffic and ad revenue – without doing any of the hard work.

Content theft happens on e-commerce sites, too. Thieves sometimes go after well-written product descriptions, prices, and even customer reviews. Rather than doing the tough, painstaking work themselves, they simply steal your hard work instead. 

The major content thieves use scraper bots, or web crawlers, to copy huge amounts of content at once. This is basically automation software that scans your website on a regular basis and copies its content. 

Some of these bot operators even try to pass themselves off as real people, which makes them more difficult for your website to detect. It can be difficult for a website admin to spot these disguised bots. 

content theft

How to Know If You Are a Victim of Content Theft

There are a few tools you can use to check if others have stolen your content. A few of these tools are even free! 

Google Alerts

Did you know that you can use Google Alerts (which is free, by the way) to see if someone copies your content? The best way to do it is to choose a unique excerpt for your website and add it to Google Alerts. Then, Google will notify you automatically if the same excerpt is published elsewhere. 

Copyscape 

Another option to try is Copyscape. Copyscape is a free plagiarism checker that was created exactly for this very purpose. It automatically checks the internet for copies of your content, and as soon as it finds any, it sends you an email alert. 

Tineye

If you need help checking for theft of your images, Tineye is the site for you. It is a computer vision, image recognition, and reverse image search application. 

However, there are some things to consider before using these tools. First, if you have a large amount of content, it can be hard to implement a way to check it all over for theft. Second, these tools are great for editorial content, but don’t work as well for dynamic content, like product prices. While identifying content theft is a great first step, the key is to prevent your content from being stolen in the first place. We’ll go over some ways to protect your website from content thieves later in this article. 

is content theft illegal

The Risks of Content Theft 

You might be wondering, do I really need to be worried about content theft? Who really cares? There are several reasons you should be concerned about thieves stealing your valuable content. 

Unfair Competition 

If you have an e-commerce website, competitors who scrape your prices and product descriptions can show the same offer as you, or even make sure they are keeping their prices lower than yours in an effort to steal your customers. If you spend a lot of time keeping your product listings up-to-date, it can be incredibly frustrating to see your hard work stolen, not to mention your customers, too. 

Risk to Your Hard-Earned Search Rankings

Your SEO can be negatively affected by content theft, too. Search engines like Google strongly dislike duplicate content. Your website could be penalized by Google for having duplicate content because someone else stole your own! 

Poor Website Performance

If web scrapers are spending a lot of time on your website copying your content, they can overload your servers and cause your website pages to load slowly and hinder your website’s overall performance. This can frustrate your customers and web visitors, and cause them to leave your website (and perhaps not return.) Plus, Google can penalize your website for poor user experience and slow performance, which can further hurt your SEO. 

Is Content Theft Illegal?

The legality of web scraping is unclear. Technically, web scraping and crawling aren’t illegal. Though, different laws and legislation exist in each country. 

There are even times when aggregation might benefit your website. For example, if you content is scraped and published to a popular website that links back to you, it can help your SEO and bring you traffic. 

how to protect website content

How to Protect Your Website from Content Theft

Content theft is frustrating, but there are ways to protect your website’s content from being stolen. 

Update Your robots.txt File

You can program your robots.txt file to tell scraper bots to go away. Most (polite) bots are programmed to look at that file and follow its rules. Everyone should take this step as a precaution, though it might not stop all content theft in its tracks. 

Add Terms and Conditions to Your Website 

Prohibit any scraping and stealing of your content in your website’s terms and conditions. If you’re not sure how to add this, you can look at some examples or use a terms and conditions generator

Utilize Anti-Bot Technology

If you are serious about protecting your website from content theft, you may want to consider installing anti-bot technology. An anti-bot system is a software or tool that you use to stop bad bots. This is one of the best ways to protect your website. There are several different options available for varying prices and levels of protection. 

FAQ: 

  • What is content theft?
  • What are the risks of content theft?
  • How do I protect my website from content theft? 
  • Is web scraping legal? 
  • What is anti-bot technology? 

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