Usually, I don’t mind too much if scrapers republish my content. Not only do the live links stay in place to help the search engines figure out who is the source and who is the copy, but even the affiliate links often stay in tact – leading to new sources of income coming from new domains you wouldn’t normally reach.
Now like I said, this usually isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, at least one scraper out there has his stuff together and its starting to make an impact on my other blog’s search rankings.
What Makes a Scraper Dangerous?
Basically, scrapers and content thieves have to be dealt with if they’ve got enough links and pagerank to outrank you for your own content snippets. This guy in particular has a forum with more than a dozen categories, and he’s got dozens of other scraper sites that post RSS links to the latest articles in each particular category. So not only is he stealing content for his forum, he’s also stealing content to create linking pads – and he’s managed to pull in more than 30,000 backlinks this way. As soon as I publish something new, he’ll grab it and auto-magically build 10 more deep links to his version of the article.
Further complicating issues is the setup of the forum he’s posting my stuff on: Only registered users can view links, so even though he’s kept the affiliate and internal links together, they are not visible to the search engines.
So all Google sees is me and him, my little blog with 4000 to 5000 links, and his uber-scraper-forum with 30,000 and a dozen domains ready to create more. Guess who ranks higher, even though my articles are indexed before his?
Obviously, this is starting to mess with my traffic so it is time to escalate!
1: A polite email
Even if we’re angry at this point, it does little good to show it. A firm but polite email has usually been enough to fix any content duplication issues. Most scrapers realize that content writers do have legal protections they can employ, so simply letting them know you are aware of the issue and asking them nicely to fix it can often be enough to resolve any problems.
2: Scraper Bait
If the scraper ignores a polite email request, you might be able to trick them in to publishing something embarrassing. We can have some fun on this step…
3: File a DMCA with Google
Google does listen – so if nothing else works, you can always drop their spam team a line and let them know you’ve got a scraper problem. This can trigger a manual review and some hardcore manual penalties, so we want to be the nice guys and give them a chance to renounce content theft before totally ruining their domain’s search reputation. Of course, if it does get to this point there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.
4: DMCAs for the Advertisers
If you’re going all out to mess up the guy’s business as bad as he has for yours, you can also let Adsense or any other advertiser know that they’re violating the terms of agreement with illegal content. Google doesn’t like to pay scammers, so this could put an end to their entire advertising account and therefor one of the best ways to quickly monetize websites.
5: DMCA the Hosting Provider
When and if all else fails, get the legal threats involved and aimed at his server itself. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is kind of a big club to bash IP infringement with, but it could be the last opportunity to stop scrapers if nothing else will work. When the host receives this kind of notice, they’ll have little choice but to take the offending sites offline.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be going in to detail with each step as I put them in to effect against my own troublesome scraping problem.