Stolen Content From Your Blog? These 18 Top Tips Will Help!

It’s pretty likely that you’ve come to this article feeling frustrated, a little p*ssed off, and even a little helpless.

As a blogger, discovering that another website has stolen your original content can be really frustrating.

With the pressure of 4.4 million blog posts published daily, many website owners are taking the easy route of copying and pasting the work of others without permission or proper attribution.

Not only does this blatant use of your work potentially harm your website’s reputation and credibility, but it can lead to a loss of traffic and income, and Google may even punish you for duplicate content. Ouch!

But try not to panic!

I know…it’s frustrating that someone is profiting off your hard work, but take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re not alone. Content theft is a common problem that we hard-working bloggers all have to face at some point or another.

In this post, I’ve compiled a list of 18 Top Tips to guide you through this ‘stolen content’ minefield. These tips (and tools) will help you safeguard your content and ensure your hard work gets the credit it deserves.

Now breathe out, and….relax!

How To Identify Stolen Content From Your Blog.

Fortunately, the fight against content theft is not always a losing battle. If you’re proactive and determined enough to watch out for it, the following tools and tips will help you identify any theft from your site.

1. Copyscape.

Copyscape is a popular plagiarism tool used by bloggers right now.

It seems basic to look at from the homepage, but don’t let that fool you. Copyscape has been around since 2004, and its algorithms for detecting plagiarism are very accurate.

Copyscape - Homepage. Help discover stolen content from your blog.

By entering your text or article URL, Copyscape searches the web for any plagiarised content. If something is flagged, Copyscape highlights the offending text with the additional option to see it highlighted in the duplicate content. Super useful!!

With the Premium Plan, there is the option to do batch search and case tracking, and if you want extra protection, you can use the Copysentry tool.

Copysentry Information

This powerful tool gives you ongoing protection and monitoring for any copies being made of your pages and posts. If Copysentry discovers anything, then you’re emailed immediately. This is a great way to keep up with anyone plagiarising your content. No more worrying!

2. Google Alerts.

If you want to keep a watchful eye on your blog posts and site content for free, then the Google Alerts website is an excellent option.

Simply set up alerts on any of your site’s brandings, keywords or keyphrases, and Google’s search engines will notify you if it detects newly published blog content using your alert phrases.

To set up an alert on a blog post that you want to keep an eye on, enter a unique sentence or phrase from a post, select how frequently you’d like to be notified by Google, and let it run.

Google Alerts setup page.

You can create as many alerts as you want, and additionally, Google Alerts can give you a heads-up on brand name mentions and any keywords or product ideas you may be researching.

3. Tin Eye Reverse Image Alerts.

Image plagiarism is another essential aspect of content theft that you need to look out for. If you’re creating original photos and images, then making sure they’re not being repurposed online will be important to you.

Tin Eye - Homepage

With TinEye.com, you can enter your images, and with its advanced MatchEngine recognition software, it will scrape online to match any of your digital assets, even if they’ve been modified or resized.

4. Search Manually.

If you’ve just started out online and your business is relatively small, then doing a manual search for duplicate content may be all you need.

To do this, you can use a Google Search Operator function. By pasting in a large extract from your article, Google searches for any instances of it being used elsewhere online.

Here’s the function: -site:yourwebsite.com “paste your content here”

This tells Google to look for an exact copy of the text within the quotation marks but not from your site. This is why you put a (-) before the word ‘site’. (Note: do not put a www. before your website name)

For an excellent resource on Google Search Operators, check out this article at AHREFS.

5. Internal links (Pingbacks and Trackbacks)

If your site is growing considerably in content, then internal linking between articles will be a helpful SEO strategy. Not only will it keep your visitors engaged on your site, but it will give Google extra help when indexing your pages.

When content thieves take content from your site, these internal links are often not removed – thus becoming external backlinks from another domain.

To find out where these links are coming from, you can use a backlink monitoring tool or WordPress’s default trackbacks/pingbacks function to monitor any domains linking back to your website.

To enable Pingbacks and Trackback notifications on your WordPress site, navigate to Settings > Discussion and check the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” option.

Pingbacks/Trackbacks in WordPress.

When you get a new referring domain, check to see if it’s a genuine link, spam, or stolen content from your site.


How To Remove Stolen Content.

Ok, so you’ve found out that the best blog post you’ve ever written has been stolen word-for-word.

You’re really hacked off, and the red mist is descending. All sorts of ‘what to do’ scenarios are crossing your mind, and suddenly researching Ray Donovan seems like a good idea!

BUT STOP!!

Put your baseball bat down and consider the following steps….

1. Gather Your Proof.

Before you go in all guns blazing, you must be organized with the evidence you find on your stolen content.

Consider the following tips:

Take screenshots

Taking screenshots will be one of your primary methods of proof against content thieves. Ensure that you note down the URL of the stolen article, the author (author!!?), and the date and time it was first discovered.

If the stolen content consists of large chunks of your text mixed into an article, then highlight these sections immediately before you screenshot them. Otherwise, in the future, you’ll have to waste time and work out which bits are yours again.

Screen Record Your Findings

To add even more weight to the evidence that you’re building up, consider using an app like Loom.com to record your screen as you navigate through the stolen content.

Loom Homepage - Dec'23

This is a much quicker way to catalogue your findings – especially if you’re happy to give a commentary as you do so. It also shows the site owner that you’re very serious about removing the stolen content!

Organize Your Evidence

As gathering evidence can move very quickly, make sure that you use a spreadsheet or a note-taking app to record any of your findings – Google Sheets and Notion are my go-to tools of choice here.

Be sure to categorize and tag your evidence consistently so that you can filter and order your notes to specific keywords or dates. This will make it easier to recall critical evidence should any legal action happen.

2. Contact the Website Owner Directly.

Although it would be very tempting to rant and rave from the outset at this point, try to be friendly but formal and state your evidence clearly.

The site owner may be unaware that your stolen content is on their site, especially if they have multiple writers on their team or they buy articles from cheap third-party sources. If this is the case, then your content should be removed relatively quickly.

If you need help finding the email or contact details of the website owner, use a WHOIS tool like ICANN Lookup or WHO.is to help you.

WHO.IS homepage. Find contact details of website owners.

Both these sites are free to use.

ICANN Lookup - Homepage.

Alternatively, if the site has a social media presence, you may find contact information through a Facebook or LinkedIn feed.

3. Report the Copyright Violation to Google.

When all your efforts to contact the website owner come to nothing, then it’s time to ramp it up and get in touch with Google with a Copyright Infringement Claim.

Google - Copyright Infringement Claim.

If Google deems your claim actionable, they can remove all links to the stolen content and potentially remove the content itself, providing it is hosted on a Google service.

4. Send A Cease and Desist Letter.

Another way to put pressure on content thieves is to send a cease and desist letter.

This is a more formal approach than the initial contact email, and it contains more legal repercussions for the recipient to consider should they decide to ignore your request to remove your content.

Here is a cease-and-desist template to guide you through the process.

5. Report the Page to the Host or Domain Registrar.

If you’re not having much luck since contacting Google, then approaching the registrar or host is your next step. This is definitely worth pursuing, as most registrars and hosting companies are keen not to be associated with shady websites and legal copyright cases.

Before reporting the stolen content, check the hosting or registrar’s policies to see if they prohibit copyright infringement and the information needed to make a complaint.

Ensure that you have all the evidence when filling in their forms, and screenshot everything you fill in if the claim is filed through the hosts or registrar’s website.

6. File a DMCA Takedown (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

If all else fails, then issuing a DMCA takedown notice is your last resort.

At this point, you will have already put a lot of pressure on the offending site from the previous steps, so with the added weight of potential legal action; this will often get the desired result.

To process a DMCA complaint, go to Google’s DMCA page and follow the links.

Google - DMCA complaint.

This will be the most detailed process for you to undertake, so only start this form once you have gathered all your evidence.

Finally, consider the importance of the content that you’re trying to get removed. If the plagiarised material is outranking your original post and stealing revenue from your site, then you should hire a lawyer that specializes in intellectual law to pursue the takedown for you.


How To Protect Your Blog From Content Thieves.

There are many ways to prevent content theft and deter thieves from stealing your hard work.

Here is my ‘must-do’ list of helpful tips:

1. Set Your RSS Feed to ‘Snippet’.

Although RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is less popular than it was, it can be a helpful way to keep up to date with any news or articles from your favourite sites without visiting them directly.

However, if you’re unaware of the settings for this feature on your WordPress site, then you may be releasing your entire articles in your feed, making you vulnerable to content scraping bots.

To change this feature, go to ‘Settings’ in your dashboard, then ‘Reading’. From here, select the ‘excerpt‘ button, then press save.

RSS feed settings - WordPress. Select 'excerpt' to prevent stolen content from your site's RSS feed.

By setting your WordPress RSS feed to ‘excerpt’, you are limiting the amount of content displayed in your site’s RSS feed, thus making it harder for bots to steal whole articles from your blog.

2. Watermark Your Images.

There are many ways to prevent content theft and deter thieves from stealing your hard work.

Watermarking involves adding a visible or invisible layer of text or image over your original media to indicate your ownership and thus deter others from claiming or using it without your permission.

Watermarkly - Homepage. Watermark your original images.

Watermarking may be something to consider if you create original images and infographics. You can achieve it through many apps such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Watermarkly.

3. Turn On Pingbacks and Trackbacks.

Are you having deja vu??

I have mentioned this feature earlier on, but enabling pingbacks and trackback notifications not only helps you discover if your content has been stolen, but it also helps you to protect your site and take action against content thieves.

Once again:

To enable Pingbacks and Trackback notifications on your WordPress site, navigate to Settings > Discussion and check the “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” option.

4. Include A Copyright Notice.

This may fall on deaf ears (so far as thieves are concerned), but having a copyright notice on your site will add some authority and clarity to potential content thieves or anyone that thinks they can use your site’s content wherever they want.

If you look to the bottom of this site, you can see my copyright notice on the right-hand side of the footer.

Copyright notce - digitalizelife.com

In addition to this, make sure that you have a Terms Of Use or Terms of Service page in your footer and outline to your readers how to use and share your content with correct attribution.

5. Use A Content Protection Platform.

To include an extra layer of security to deter bots from scraping your site, you can use a service like Cloudflare or Securi.

Cloudflare Homepage - Jan'24

Although these services will not guarantee complete protection from your content being stolen, they will definitely reduce the chances of your site being scraped by automated bots or other security risks such as DDoS attacks.

(For additional methods on how to block scraper bots, have a look further down.)

6. DMCA.com

If you want to employ a service that specifically protects website content and copyright laws, then DMCA.com may be a solution for your needs.

DMCA.com - Homepage

Their takedown service takes all the stress out of sending takedown notices to infringing sites, and they also work with hosting providers to remove stolen content for you.

They also have a badge protection service that seamlessly integrates into your site via a dedicated WordPress plugin.

DMCA.com - Badges.

If your content gets stolen with a badge on it, then DMCA.com will process a full takedown notice for free.

If you’re an already established site owner with lots of spinning plates to deal with, then using a service like DMCA.com can help you save time and take the worry out of protecting your website from content thieves.

Other than using a service like Cloudflare to prevent your site’s content from being copied by scraper bots, you can also employ several other strategies:

  1. Use a Robots.txt File: A robots.txt file enables you to instruct web crawlers on what pages they can access on your site and help block scraper bots.
  2. Add IP Blocking: Identifying and blocking the specific IP addresses that scraper bots use to access your site can prevent them from scraping additional content. 
  3. Use CAPTCHA: Implementing a CAPTCHA or challenge test requiring human input will help filter out bot traffic from real visitors.
  4. Restrict the Number of Requests: Configuring limits on how many requests a visitor can make in a given timeframe can deter large volumes of scraping requests.
  5. Use Web Application Firewalls: A web application firewall (WAFs) with rules to detect web scraping activity based on access patterns can automatically block suspicious bots.

Do NOT Try The Following….

If you’re like me and research topics obsessively, you may have encountered some of the hacks below to protect your content.

But be aware!

These methods are not recommended, as they can harm your site’s user experience and even get you penalised by search engines.

Disabling ‘Right-Click’

Disable Right Click plugin for WordPress.

This method – although easily implemented via numerous legit WordPress plugins – will create more annoyance to your readers than protect your entire site from its content being stolen.

Don’t forget, but the majority of readers on your site are there to either find an answer to a query, a pain point or to buy something.

If what they’ve found is helpful, they may want to copy and paste a snippet from your blog post and share it online with a link back to your site. Result!

But hang on……they can’t because you’ve disabled everything!

Bad result. Annoyed reader. No backlink!

Also, consider that for most content thieves out there, disabling right-click will not stop them from stealing your content, as numerous workarounds exist to overcome this feature.

Hiding Your Links In Your Content.

If you hide a link in your content by either changing the text colour to the same as the background or hiding a link within a random character, then anyone stealing your content may expose themselves by these hidden links pointing back to your site.

These methods used to be a good way of catching someone stealing content from your site, but unfortunately, Google has since prohibited this practice as it’s been used to manipulate search engine rankings.

If you violate these guidelines, your website may be penalized or removed from search results.



Final Thoughts.

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to protect your site from content theft. Once you press the ‘publish’ button and release your amazing content into the great Googleverse and beyond, your content is potentially up for grabs.

However

By being savvy with all the methods to IdentifyRemove and Protect your site from content theft, you will be better prepared to fight this problem should it ever happen to you.

Now stop worrying, and write!

Disclosure: Some of the links on digitalizelife.com may be affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission without any additional cost to you. For more information on how affiliate links are handled on digitalizelife.com, please refer to our privacy policy.


FAQs

What is Content Theft?

Content theft is the stealing and reposting of blog posts, images, or videos without permission or any attribution. This is better known as ‘Plagiarism’ and comes in numerous forms and guises.

Is it legal to copy blog posts?

No. It is not legal if you copy someone else’s work and republish it as your own.

Why Do People Steal Content?

There are numerous reasons why content theft happens, but the bottom line is nearly always for personal and financial gain.

Occasionally, content theft is done accidentally by incorrect citations or not linking back to the original material, but this is definitely a small part of the whole problem.

Can I Sue Someone For Reposting My Content?

Yes. Legal action can be pursued if someone reposts your content without any attempt to give a citation to your work and who hasn’t received written permission to do so.


Recent Posts
Comments

Leave a Comment

Disclosure: Some of the links on digitalizelife.com may be affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission without any additional cost to you. For more information on how affiliate links are handled on digitalizelife.com, please refer to our privacy policy.

Are Your PowerPoint Presentations Really Dull?

Read my 'Colossyan vs Synthesia' article and create AI Avatar presentations that will keep your audience engaged!