How to Identify Stolen Content and Take Action!

Imagine that you and your staff have spent countless hours creating engaging content for your website, only to discover that much of it has been stolen and repurposed by others – without your consent.

The appearance of duplicate content could adversely affect your website search rankings, making it more difficult for prospective students, alumni and the community to find you. And as we all know, good content rules. So, why let others break them (the rules, that is)?

At Beacon, we’ve seen what unethical practices such as copy scraping can do. Having personally experienced the theft of our content fairly recently, I thought I’d share the steps I took to alert Google to this offense and protect our company from the negative fallout that can follow.

Here are six easy steps for getting back at the thieves who steal copy.

Step 1 – Verify that your suspicions are correct.

Perform a quick Google search to determine where your copy is showing up across the internet. You can randomly select copy from a webpage (copy and paste a few sentences in a Google search box) to run a query. The search results will indicate if your copy appears on another site on the web other than your own.

For example, here are the results from my search.

Scraped Content

The search results will provide you with a list of webpages where that content appears (including your own, of course). As you can see in this example, there is another website using content I wrote without my consent (see the red arrow above).

Step 2– Investigate the extent of the theft

Stolen ContentScraped Content

When investigating the extent of plagiarism, check to see if your content was been copied verbatim. Also, you’ll want to check if this is an isolated event or if the website in question has copied multiple pieces of content. In our example above, you will notice multiple instances of stolen content. It’s time to take action.

Step 3 – Reach out to the website’s administrator

Reach out to the webmaster of the website that stole the copy. If the webmaster’s email contact isn’t readily displayed, check the about or policy sections of their website. The webmaster’s address is often hidden within these pages.

Once you’ve found an email address, notify him that you are aware of the offending activity and request that he remove the stolen content within a defined period of time. A week to ten days is more than enough.

Should the webmaster voluntarily remove the stolen content, your job is done. Have a latte. However, most nefarious webmasters will ignore such warnings and hide behind a perceived veil of anonymity.

Now, the fun begins.

Step 4 – Contact the hosting provider

It’s time to perform a who-is-lookup. This online tool provides you with the webmaster’s identity and more importantly, their website hosting provider. Armed with this new information, I reached out to the hosting provider and let them know that a website they host had blatantly infringed on my intellectual copyrights. I respectfully requested that they take down the website in question.

Step 5 – File a DMCA request

If the hosting provider fails to respond, then it’s time to file a dirty DMCA request. Only take this step once you have exhausted the other options. Also, keep in mind that you need to have the authority to act on behalf of your organization prior to filing this request.

You have the option of drafting your own DMCA takedown request or downloading this DMCA Take Down Notice Template to customize and send to the offending website owner. After you have sent the DMCA notice, give the website a week to ten days to respond. If you don’t hear back within the time you designate in your notice, it’s time to elevate the complaint to Google and get some sort of resolution.

Step 6 – Request Google remove the stolen content

Log into Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice. This will take you to the copyright removal section within Google (see below). Simply follow the instructions and be sure to describe the nature of the work being copied and include URLs where the copyrighted work can be viewed. Also, include the link to the infringing material.

Scraping Site

The DMCA request tends to work pretty quickly so you want to keep an eye on how many pages are currently indexed and compare it over the next few days or weeks. You can double check this by running another search query containing a snippet of your stolen copy. If you were successful in your attempt at protecting your content, you will see that Google has removed pages from its search engine that were infringing upon your copyrights once they complete their investigation.

Monitoring tip: If you would like to check the progress of your request, perform a site search if the offending site and make a note of the number of pages Google has indexed (see below). Compare this number to future searches and you may find the Google now indexes fewer of the website’s pages than before your request. This is a sign that Google may be taking action.

stolen content before after

You’ll know you’ve reached a final resolution when you run a search query and see the following highlighted message displayed:

stolen content example

Good luck and happy hunting!

Jordan Lowry
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Analyst in SEO, PPC and Social Media. He recently graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a strong business background running a start-up.
By | 2017-06-16T12:46:34+00:00 February 9th, 2016|SEO|Comments Off on How to Identify Stolen Content and Take Action!

Blending Marketing and Technology

Von R. Glitschka once said “Marketing without design is lifeless, and design without marketing is mute.”

In today’s world, where everything is a click away, I think this can be paraphrased to “Marketing without technology is obsolete and technology without marketing is inert.”

What exactly do I mean by that? Let’s start with the first part, ‘marketing without technology is obsolete’. Technology has made the world an incredibly small place, long-distance communication used to take months, now it’s nearly instantaneous. Copious amounts of data (any kind you want!) are now available at the click of a button. Computers and phones can do things the were unimaginable last year, and seemingly impossible 20 years ago. New advancements in technology are made on what seems like an hourly basis. So what does this mean for marketers? It means we can utilize technology to target campaigns with laser-like focus. The old adage “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” is no longer a concern. Gone are the days of billboards and other print media only to be seen by people who live/work in certain geographies, or parts of a city. Poorly-targeted TV and radio commercials? Not anymore. It also means the world is your market place. Small businesses that used to cater strictly to hyper-local markets are no shipping their products globally. What would have been a tiny brick-and-mortar store 30 years ago can now become an internationally renowned eCommerce site. So let’s take a look at a couple examples of how technology has helped marketing efforts:

  1. GoPro – These guys have built an empire. They were first to market (which we all know helps dominate), but more importantly, they’ve done so without spending a dime on ‘traditional advertising’. Yet, somehow, they managed to sell 3.8 million units in 2013. So how did they do this? By leveraging technology, specifically, YouTube, where they currently have just shy of 3 million subscribers. It’s incredibly easy to share your recent wingsuit adventure, which of course involved no less than 3 GoPros attached to the flyer. Essentially, every POV (point of view) video on the internet right now is a commercial for GoPro, none of which were paid for by the company – even if it was filmed using a competitor’s camera, when you’re watching, you’re probably thinking “I should really get myself a GoPro”. It’s become the defacto term for ‘adventure cam’ and will continue to grow without dropping mountains of cash on expensive TV ads or extensive traditional marketing campaigns.
  2. Uber – Yes, another reference to Uber. We all know that content is king, but what’s even more royal is when you tailor your content to specific markets. And Uber has done just that, they’ve created specialized blogs for each of their world-wide markets. This content personalization means they get to test different strategies in different places at the same time. Why serve up the same content to someone in England as someone in San Francisco? They don’t even drive on the same side of the road! Technology has enabled Uber to speak the language (figuratively and literally) of the people they are marketing to, and it’s made it possible to accomplish this feat in a cost-effective and timely manner. This kind of content delivery system would have been impossible two decades ago.

So, what about “technology without marketing is inert” piece? If you’ve used any type of technology, hardware or software, in the past decade, there’s a pretty good chance it’s because there was good marketing behind it. Whether it’s your iPad, your favorite cloud storage service, or even something as simple as your online banking tools, there was probably a solid marketing strategy to deliver that tech to you. A wonderfully developed and designed eCommerce store won’t sell a thing without a proper search engine marketing game plan; SEO PPC, etc. Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

  1. iPhone – This is obviously a revolutionary piece of technology (in terms of both hardware & software) that may not have made it without the right strategy. You can build the coolest device in the world, but if no one knows about it, what’s the point? Investing in engineers to build such a device is just as important as investing the creatives/marketers that will announce the accomplishments of said engineers to the world and convince them they need to rush out and buy one immediately. Clearly, Apple has done a fantastic job of marketing with these devices, for proof, check out the lines outside the stores the night before a new release. While Apple’s marketing strategy typically uses traditional channels such as billboards and TV ads, it’s obviously worked out for them and therefore they didn’t waste any money on their product development team.
  2. Dropbox – This is clearly an awesome use of technology on the software side of things, but how did a small start up become the dominating force in cloud storage? Great. Marketing. You’ve probably noticed that when you sign up for a Dropbox account, you’re prompted to do 2 things- refer your friends, and connect your social media profiles. Why? Growth and exposure. Every time you refer a friend, you get another half a gig of storage, so yes, of course I will refer my friends! They increased referrals by 60% simply by offering more storage, which costs them pennies on the dollar versus acquiring a new subscriber the old fashioned way. You can also get another 1/8 of a gig of storage for each social media profile you connect to your account. This not only provides an incentive to users in terms of storage, but it also makes sharing your Dropbox content significantly easier; you win twice, Dropbox wins once.

blending marketing & technology

OK, but what’s the point of all this? The main thing I want to communicate with this post is that marketers need technology, i.e. engineers, programmers, developers, et al, and these people all need marketers to bring their products/services/creations to the world.

Logan Ray
With a B.S. Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Logan Ray joins Beacon as a Digital Marketing Specialist. Outside the workplace, Logan’s interests include spending time with his wife and dog, board sports and outdoor adventuring.
By | 2017-06-16T13:11:59+00:00 May 13th, 2015|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Blending Marketing and Technology

Mobile is Booming

UPDATE: The information in this post was updated on August 2, 2017. Please read the updated version HERE.

After working in web development for several years, things have changed quite a bit. A majority of people now look to their smartphones or tablets (including me, after work). They are simple to navigate and everything is at our fingertips. Granted, we will always use desktop computers for work and complex tasks.

With all that in mind, it gives us the chance to create great things with new experiences and keep people interested at home or on the go.

Mobile stats are pretty astounding as you can see here:

Courtesy of: Microsoft Tag

Not only is this a great way to provide content for users, but also provides new ways for clients to engage with their customers.

Zedric Myers
Zedric Myers is a Web Designer for Beacon Technologies. After earning his degree in Advertising and Graphic Design, he spent 11 years with an advertising agency in Greensboro, NC where he was initially hired as a designer and transitioned to being a Web Developer.
By | 2017-08-02T14:04:46+00:00 August 11th, 2011|Web Development|Comments Off on Mobile is Booming
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