A popular question we see asked is “How to find and remove stolen content?”
If you come across your content on another website it’s a natural response to wonder how it got there and what you can do to get it taken down.
Unfortunately, no matter what steps you take to protect your original content, there is always a chance that another site will steal it and post it as its own.
The good news is that you do have recourse to find content that has been stolen and have it removed from the offending sites.
In this article we will cover how and why web content is stolen, ways you can track down and remove stolen content from the internet, and the steps you can take to limit the chances of it happening again with future content.
- Why and How is Content Stolen?
- How to Find Stolen Content
- How to Remove Stolen Content
- How to Prevent Future Content Theft
Why and How is Content Stolen?
There is no cut-and-dry answer for why content ends up getting stolen, but one common method for doing so is blog content scraping.
Blog content scraping is essentially when a website or person takes your content and passes it off as their own on their site without giving you attribution or credit. This can be done both manually or automatically with a plugin or bot.
Content is stolen for a plethora of reasons, but it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. In fact, if your content is stolen, chances are you are doing something right.
Content is actually more likely to be stolen when it is deemed to be valuable. While stealing content is wrong, many sites find it easier to just post someone else’s work rather than write their own articles.
Instead of creating an original article, sites can just steal content from another site, which in turn can steal away your hard-earned traffic.
Not only will that content draw in readers, but some readers also will never know that it is your stolen content being passed off as original writing.
How to Find Stolen Content
Content stealing is unfortunate, but it happens regularly. Whether or not your site is hosted on WordPress, there are things you can do about it.
The first step in the process is to find out if your content has been stolen and who is using it illegally.
You probably know that you can set up Google alerts to notify via email anytime your brand is mentioned, but did you know that same method can be used to notify you when your content is being used illegally?
That’s right, the simplest way to find out your content is being used without your permission is to utilize one of the most popular tools on the web that you likely already use.
All you need to do is visit the Google Alerts website, paste in a section of any article you want to check on, choose the type of websites you would like to be searched, and then enter your email address.
Once you have done this, Google can contact you with the results and notify you of any place that content is being used within the criteria you indicated.
Alerts can be delivered on a daily or weekly basis, or you can choose to be notified only when Google detects your content being used.
By doing this, you will get automatic alerts anytime your content is stolen or used without your permission.
Do a Manual Search for Stolen Content
Google Alerts are a great way to set up automatic notifications for stolen content, but it’s not too difficult to do a manual search to see if your content has been stolen either.
If you haven’t heard of Copyscape, it’s time to get familiar with this tool. This plagiarism tool is a good way to find content that has been stolen and published elsewhere on the internet.
To get started, all you have to do is visit the site and give it your website’s URL. After you have entered your URL, Copyscape will search the entire internet and let you know if and where your content is being reposted.
The premium version of the tool allows you to search up to 10,000 pages, but the free version is useful too providing up to 10 results. This makes it a great option for smaller blogs.
How to Remove Stolen Content
So you have set up Google Alerts and done a manual search, and unfortunately, found out your content has been stolen.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone and there are ways you can get it taken down.
Find and Contact the Offending Host
Stealing content is illegal and hosting it is an illegal activity, so hosts won’t want that content on their website.
Chances are the sites stealing your content are ones that don’t have a contact information page.
So if you can’t find a way to contact the offending sites, find out who is hosting their site and file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint against the site.
Once you have found the contact information for the host of the offending sites, contact them and let them know about the illegal content.
Any reputable host takes DMCA complaints and requests seriously and most times they will remove the stolen content or even take down the entire site for violating their user agreement.
File a DMCA Complaint Using Google Webmaster Tools
Another thing you can do is file an official DMCA complaint directly with Google.
You can do this directly within Google Search Console.
Click Create New Notice, then fill out as much relevant information as you are able to provide. In this case, the more the better.
If you do pursue this method, it’s important to be able to prove that your content was actually stolen. False claims can harm your account’s standing with Google.
A solid way to provide proof that your content was stolen is to be able to show it was published on your website before the offending sites.
How to Prevent Future Content Theft
As you can see, it can be time-consuming tracking down and trying to get stolen content removed. That means your best defense against content theft is to stop it before it happens.
Unfortunately, there isn’t too much you can do now that Google has gotten rid of Google Search Authorship. Your best bet is to encourage potential thieves not to steal your content.
If your content is being stolen, don’t get discouraged.
Knowing how to find it, what you can do to have it removed, and how to potentially prevent it from happening again will help you limit the impact it has on your site traffic.
Remember, if other sites are stealing your content, that probably just means you are writing content worth reading.
The best thing you can do is to continue creating awesome content that is relevant and useful to your customers or readers. For help with that, check out our best content writing tips that will help drive traffic to your website.