Is your valuable content being copied?
Posted 1 February 2010 under Managing Your Website
Your website's content is one of its most valuable assets. Good content is content that attracts the right audience, is easy to read and understand, shows that you know what you’re talking about, creates desire and has good call to action (makes the visitor want to buy your product or use your service).
A major issue on the internet is duplicate content – this is when 2 or more pages have the same text content. Google does not like duplicate content and your website could be penalised. One of the ways duplicate content occurs is when the person responsible for the content of a website copies the text from another website and pastes it verbatim on their own webpage. Often these people are (or work for) your competitors, either too lazy to write their own content or they simply don’t have the knowledge they want people to believe they do.
Duplicate content can occur on multiple pages of the same website and on different websites. In this article we’re discussing the issue of copied content on multiple websites only.
Copyscape is a website that helps you find other websites that have similar (or duplicate) content. We used copyscape and discovered a number of South African web design companies using our content on their web pages and claiming it to be their own. Apparently these start-ups and fly by nights aren’t quite clued up on web design and web development.
How to discourage copying
Besides having a copyright notice on your website and indicating that your content may not be copied or distributed without expressed permission, there are a few technical tricks we can implement while developing your website to discourage your lazy competitors from stealing your knowledge and using it for their own gain. When creating your content, whenever possible, write it in a way that would not apply to your competitors. For example include your unique brand name and your product names in your text.
Common mistakes that cause duplicate content
Duplicate content accross multiple websites is not always the result of malicious intent; it can often result from
- Copying information on the products that you sell from the manufacturer’s website.
- Copying a long excerpt of an article from a news website.
- Distributing a single press release or article to multiple websites.
A way to avoid duplicating a manufacturer's product descriptions, for example, is to add your own opinions and ideas to the information – manufacturers most often focus on the product features; try to expand by telling your customer what the benefits of those features are. This might even make your content more effective.
When distributing a press release to multiple press release websites / article directories, try to adapt the article to suit the specific website’s audience, or creating different versions of your press release.
If you discover that your valuable website content has been copied you might consider contacting the website owner and request that they remove the content, or you could contact their web hosts's abuse department.
To conclude, take your time to create good content for your website - don’t rush and copy from other websites. If you’re struggling it may help to work with a cop writer. For more ideas here is some further reading:
- Content Development: What to put on your website.
- Making your Homepage effective.
- Optimising your content with keywords.