[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]
An unfortunate consequence of your blog growing is that you’ll become much more attractive to people who want to steal all your hard work – that is, they see your good w0rk in terms of great blog content and how you’re optimizing your blog for seo and they might also see that your blog’s PageRank is increasing and they’ll want to just come and steal your stuff!
We call these “scrapers” or “content thieves” who can (and will) copy and paste your content into their own blogs. Sometimes they do this manually but many times they do it via software that automates the process, and some of the scraping software out there is really, really good – so good that they can, at the moment of you hitting the publish button, grab your content and publish it to their property in a matter of minutes.
Of course, the consequences are not good – in fact, they could be extremely damaging as search engines might not readily understand or interpret the stolen content as stolen! They could see your copied and stolen content as the authoritative original!
What happens is that they’ll put those copies on top (rank higher) of the SERPs (search engine results pages) instead of you and then you seriously lose out, losing traffic, potential subscribers, and financial opportunities and growth. It’s a sad truth, especially in terms of money since many of these scrapers are making a boatload of cash off of other people’s hard work.
What do you do? Here are two simple strategies for keeping your blog optimized for search and keeping the scrapers in their place:
Nothing is Completely Bulletproof
The first thing to remember is that there is nothing completely bulletproof to stop blog content scrapers from stealing your content unless you’ve made your blog content private and password protected!
But there are a number of ways to “talk” to the search engines that can help them determine who (you!) the original content creator is and give them the rankings and value that they (you!) deserve.
1. Use Absolute Links Instead of Relative Links
The first thing you could do is hard-code some of your links to be absolute links rather than relative links. For example, instead of using this relative link in your blog content…
<a href="../">My Blog's Home Page</a>
you should do…
<a href="http://tentblogger.com/">My Blog's Home Page</a>
And this way when someone copies your content they will link back to your blog instead of their own link structure. Another example is when you link to other content in your blog posts:
<a href="/seo/">SEO Series</a>
is not as good as:
<a href="http://tentblogger.com/seo/">SEO Series</a>
Got it? Good!
2. Edit Your RSS Feed
One way that many scrapers steal your content is by using your RSS feed to syndicate and re-publish your content. Using a WordPress Plugin that’ll add some links back to your blog in areas they can’t change easily (like your RSS Footer) is one easy way to stop content theft.
I highly recommend you use this even if you’re not too worried about content theft (at this point anyways).
Finally, if you must, you can of course work through the legal process called a DMCA Takedown. You can read more about it here as well. To be honest I’ve never walked through a full DMCA as it just takes too much time – I’d rather just bolster up my efforts on my end and keep pumping out great content instead!
[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series. Image via Creative Commons, john.]