Archive for December, 2007

Someone copied my website

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

And they were not alone… Over the past few weeks I have noticed several sites actually copied content word for word from my site. Some did not even remove the word “MoJo” from parts of the text they copied. I had noticed a while back my Google page rank dropped from a 3 to a 2 on my homepage but I did not really think much of it at the time. About a month ago, I was looking at competitor websites as I do from time to time and the wording sounded very familiar. Upon closer inspection I noticed they copied the content word for word from 3 different pages of my website. All they had done was replaced my name with theirs. I was floored, I knew they had stole my content, but I had no clue what to do. I researched the matter and found out I am not alone.  Several companies have had to deal with this. After gathering all the information I contacted my attorney and he recommended a cease and desist letter. We also copied the web host and got an almost immediate response. The content was removed within 24 hours. I started to wonder if this is was what dropped my Google pagerank, so I decide to see if other sites had done this and unfortunately I found more. I followed this same procedure and the content was removed. I am not talking taking a FAQ here and there I am talking about copying entire paragraphs or pages word for word.

Someone copied your content, so what, why do you care?
I care because Google, Yahoo, MSN and all other search engines care. They actually view this as duplicate content and the result is both sites can look like they are trying to spam the Internet. The fact that I have identified over 5 sites that copied part or all of my content made this much worse for me. The search engines are usually able to determine the original site and many times the copycat sites will be omitted from the search results, but the bottom line is this practice can hurt the original site. Also the copycat site will never achieve good placement from a search engine perspective, so you get little or no benefit out of doing this. Here is Google’s stance on duplicate content. The other reason I care is when I started this business I didn’t copy peoples websites. I sure read alot of them and got ideas for what I wanted mine to look like, but I never copied entire pages or paragraphs from other sites work.

Please understand that my intent is not to effect peoples business or take down their website. I actually like competition when done in a fair and honest manor. I have always given companies the benefit of the doubt and tried to email or call them giving them the opportunity to remove the content on their own. I have found that in many instances it was the company they hired to build the website that copied my content. In these cases I get even more aggravated for two reasons:
1. Any web company that is hired to build a website for a client that knowingly copies content from other websites on the Internet either has no knowledge of how search engines work and/or doesn’t care that the website they designed for their client will ever have a good organic (free) placement in search engines. Anyone can build a website and use pay-per-click methods to generate traffic but anyone who knows anything about search engine optimization will agree that organic placement is much better. If your website designer can’t show you sites they created with good organic placement its time to look for a different web design company.
2. The other reason is basically this webdesign company not only riped me off by steeling my content, but they also ripped off the owner of the copycat site they were paid to create and now this company maybe have to pay someone else to have their site redone.

So why post this?
To let other margarita companies know if they copy my content I will request it removed and take legal action if necessary to get it done. I have had some sites not comply after I had given them proper evidence, so I filed a complaint with their webhost. Once I provided the webhost with the proper information the host decided to suspend their account including all other domains associated with that account. This was not my intent, I just wanted the copied content removed, this was the decision the webhost made (My guess is every webhost has a copyright clause in their TOS). There are a few more sites I will be contacting shortly and rather than explaining everything to them I will send them links to my page and theirs as well as a link to this blog. Hopefully after reading this they can understand and appreciate why I am asking my content be removed from their site. My goal is always a peaceful resolve, I just want my content removed.

How do you detect duplicate content?
Well initially I found it be accident, but when I was looking for other sites after finding the 1st one I started entering sentences from my website in quotes into the search engines. This is very tedious and I don’t recommend it. I have since found Copy Scape where you can enter any webpage and it will show you other sites that have this same content. Once you identify them, then you can take whatever action you deem necessary.

Additional resources
Copy Scape - Lets you see all pages with similar or exact content as yours.
Internet Archive - Assuming your site is listed in the Archive this will allow you to prove your site had the content 1st.
Who is hosting this - This site lets you see who the host is for a particular website should you need to contact them.

I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions. Thanks