Internet competition is more intense now than ever. With Google targeting poor quality websites as well as those using unethical means to get a higher page ranking, there is a greater responsibility for website builders to provide the best content possible. If your website content has been “scraped” by another website to gain better search engine optimization without any effort, what can be done?
What Is Website Scraping?
Although certain kinds of website scraping can be done legally, such as data mining and content searching, website scraping in the negative sense is stealing content from one website to post it on another without permission. This can happen to anyone, although prime targets are websites with a high search engine optimization ranking or those with good quality content that the scraper thinks will be beneficial.
Any way you look at it, it is the theft of something that may have cost the victimized site money and time to create. While this is illegal and subject to copyright and DMCA laws, this type of theft is very common because it is easy to do and hard to detect.
Why Content Theft is A Big Deal
Being scraped is unethical and damaging, since the owner of that information has a copyright on it. Scraped content can also negatively affect the victimized website’s SEO efforts in two main ways:
Page Ranking Improvement – Most significantly, if the site that took the scraped information uses in a way to help achieve improved page ranking through better search engine optimization, the true owner of the content could find the scraped content outranking the original content.
Reduced Search Engine Optimization – Similarly, if the website that scraped and posted the stolen content is an extremely poor website, it is possible for the original website that owns the content to suffer reduced optimization or even penalties for having duplicate content as well as being associated with a low-ranking, poor-quality website.
Both of these things work directly against any effort to create a quality website with original content to earn good search engine optimization and page rank.
What to Do
There are a few things that website owners can do if they find their information has been scraped and can prove it through links to previously cached pages, site backups, etc.:
Contact the Website – Try the nice approach first. Explain the situation and ask to have the content removed.
File a Scraper Report with Google – As long as the original website follows Google’s webmaster guidelines and has not received any warnings, a complaint will be examined and the website with the stolen information should remove the content. This is also the best way to contest page rank problems related to scraped content.
Contact the Domain Host – If an attempt at working with the website owner fails to yield any results, do a “who is” search of the domain name. Contact the hosting company and explain the situation. If there is documentation that content was stolen, most hosting companies will remove it. Content owners can also file a DMCA take down request with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Although it may take some effort, having scraped content removed from a suspected website is something that must be taken seriously. To maintain ranking over poor-quality and unethical websites with good search engine optimization, website owners must be aware of their own ranking and that of similar websites that may be using scraped content!
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