How to Identify and Prevent Content Theft

by Brittany Thorley

Content theft is a very real threat for online businesses and one that can be tricky to identify and prevent. Despite the sophistication of our search engines and their countless algorithms to find and punish content thieves, in an expanding world with billions of websites, it’s becoming even easier to lift copy, images and other content.

content theft
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

Content theft is a copyright violation, and as such, is punishable by law. There are certain steps businesses can take, however, to help protect themselves against this online crime and minimize the chance that content stolen from them will rank higher than their own page in search engines.

Tools to Identify Stolen Content

Unfortunately, unless you add the ‘no right click’ function to your blog pages and web content, there’s nothing you can do to stop the copying and pasting of your resources, but to deal with theft and its culprits effectively, you must know how to find and report stolen content.

There are a number of tools that can be of assistance in your content theft prevention mission. Tynt is just one tool that can be used to add a link when the content from your site or blog is copied and pasted elsewhere. Trackbacks is another nifty online tool which works well with Tynt to ensure you get credit where it’s due. Trackbacks lets you know every time someone links to your website and its pages so you can keep track of where your content is being reposted and make sure it’s not being passed off as someone else’s.



Using Google Alerts to Find Theft

Content theft can also be tracked using the free alerts services from Google. Each time you add a new post to your business blog, set up an alert using a string of words from your post. Aim to use words that you feel cannot be reworked or re-phrased easily, and make sure that the sentence you use is unique by including as much of it as possible. Google Alerts will then notify you if this unique sentence appears in the form of a blog, news, discussion, book or video, information which will be sent directly to your email inbox.

Listen to Your Visitors

Enabling the comments function on your blog may be just the ticket when tracking down content theft online. Visitors with an interest in your website and its subject matter are likely to visit similar websites, sites that may benefit from stealing content from your pages for their own professional gain. These visitors have been known to comment on blogs to let the webmaster know that they have seen the material somewhere else, a tip that you can swiftly follow up. However, make sure that comments are subject to approval to avoid dreaded spam!

What’s Next?

So you now know how to prevent and identify content theft, but what can you do about it? Once you are certain that the content that has been lifted was originally yours, you can contact the site directly to report this and suggest a course of action. Be polite yet firm in your approach to ensure that the webmaster of the offending site knows you mean business. Give the webmaster a deadline to remove the content. If they don’t oblige, you can take more drastic measures to ensure it is removed by lodging a takedown request with DMCA. If approved, the content will be removed from the offending site and the search engines to make sure the material you coined isn’t stolen and ranking for all to see. 

Related: What to Do when Someone Copies Your Web Site

This article was written by Brittany Thorley from Forsyth Business Services. Outside her day job as a business consultant, Brittany blogs about business branding, marketing and management, sharing her expertise to help businesses of all sizes succeed.
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