By Emily Suess
Creating high-quality content for your website and blog takes time, creativity, and probably a good chunk of your marketing budget. It’s frustrating to see all that hard work stolen by online plagiarists. Not to mention, having tons of duplicate content floating around on the web can weaken the relevance and search results for your own site.
It’s important to keep your eye out for content plagiarists to protect your small business’s reputation on the web. Fortunately, there are several free tools out there to help you track down publishers who are using your content without your permission.
One way to find content thieves is to create Google Alerts for relevant topics related to the content you produce. You can create one alert or one hundred alerts, and then simply tweak the settings to be notified by email daily, weekly, or in real time.
Although Google Alerts won’t directly hunt down plagiarized content, they do help you monitor the content being published in your industry. If something looks suspiciously familiar to you, you can click through to the page to find out if your content has been stolen.
You can type a string of your copy in quotation marks and run a search with any search engine to help locate stolen copy, too. Very specific snippets of your writing aren’t likely to turn up results, unless, of course, your content has been used verbatim on another site. You must put the search term in quotations marks, however, to get results for the exact string of text you want to find.
At Copyscape.com you can enter the URL of any web page, and the utility will search for duplicates on the web. If you’d like to deter others from using your content illegally, Copyscape provides banners for you to place on your blog. This way, you can draw attention to the fact that you actively protect the content you own. It’s not a guarantee that no one will try to use your content, but it may effectively limit the number of content thieves trying to use your content as their own.
Copygator.com is another free service that helps you identify plagiarism. It monitors your site’s RSS feed and finds other blogs that are republishing your original content online. All you have to do is enter a feed URL, and CopyGator will keep track for you as new posts are published. Like Copyscape, CopyGator also provides badges for display on your site.
While monitoring for plagiarism, you may come across quoted excerpts of your site that credit you as the author as well as provide a link back to the original content. In those cases, you won’t need to take any additional steps. However, if you discover that your content has been stolen, your next course of action is to contact the site owner and request they take down the stolen content and/or issue a DMCA complaint.
Hi Emily, great post, something I looked into a while back (after I found someone blatantly stole and removed my links!) but didn’t find anything of use. I’ll look into Copyscape, (I thought it was a paid service), thanks for posting!
I just saw another example a few days ago that I hadn’t considered before, plagirism across social media platforms. Someone calling themselves a writer was cut and pasting things from twitter and posting them word for word precisely onto her Facebook account as her own, including spacing choices and odd punctuation. When called on it, this “writer” half heartedly thanked the person they stole from for pointing out the mishap and then went on to say I don’t even know who you are. Sad and pathetic, I think, but something else to watch out for.