Writers tend to worry about putting their content online. “What if my work gets stolen?” I’m asked all the time. Mostly, I don’t see content getting stolen from websites or blogs, but…but…sometimes it does get “scraped.” This can be prevented, however, and shouldn’t stop writers from publishing their work on the Internet often and freely.
I wouldn’t call scraping stealing in all cases. In many cases, the content is still attributed in some way to you and your site—with a link or the resource box or bio you have provided. This can be a good thing if it sends traffic back to your site and provides a link to your site, which may increase your search engine results. It can be bad, if the other site ranks higher than you in the search engine results pages, though. Then your content will be found on their site first.
Sometimes, though, the content is, indeed, simply lifted from your blog and placed on someone else’s blog or site. That type of scraping, in fact, is stealing. While this does happen, it doesn’t happen that often.
I’ve been blogging for a long time, and I’ve had only three problems that I can think of; two of them were actual cases of scraping that I would call theft. I found my content unattributed without permission. In both cases it was on a site with many bloggers, and I was able to contact the site administrator and get the blogger to take it down. In these cases some of the content was a bit jumbled, almost as if they had tried to spin it in some way so it wouldn’t be exactly the same as the original content on my blog.
In the third case, the content was being scraped with partial attribution. This site actually was republishing some very reputable people’s blog posts. In fact, the site owner had a board of directors made up of several people I knew and respected, one of whom I contacted for help when the site owner would not respond to my emails. I had contacted the site owner several times to have my content removed prior to that.
Normally I would have been happy to be among the many well-known people whose posts were published there. However, here’s why I wasn’t:
- The posts the site was scraping were all coming from my blog, Write Nonfiction in November, the sister blog to this one that runs for one month out of the year. While each of those posts has a bio at the bottom giving the guest blogger credit and linking to their blogs or websites, it does not mention me, my blog or my websites in any way (unless it happens to be one of the few posts I write during that month). I do write an introduction to each guest post, though. That means that I was getting no credit for those posts, nor was Write Nonfiction in November.
- Also, the site scraping my content was driving no traffic to Write Nonfiction in November via links. All the links in the posts were to my guest bloggers’ sites.
- Additionally, that site was ranking higher on Google than Write Nonfiction in November with MY original content.
With the help of one of the board members who I knew, I was able to get in contact with the site owner and eventually have my contact removed.
So, what do you need to know about how to protect yourself from content scraping and how fearful should you be? There’s a certain amount you should know and do. About four months ago I had the good fortune of meeting Tim Ware, a WordPress wiz and information hub for all this sort of stuff (that I know just enough about to be somewhat dangerous). I had asked him to write a guest post. Instead, he wrote a phenomenal post on his own site and sent me the link. I suggest you read the article and implement as much of what he suggests as you can and generally bone up on the subject so you are aware of the dangers. Much of what Tim says to do can be done by anyone–even non-techy writers. The coding suggestions might be tasks for your webmaster. I’m still in the process of implementing some of his suggestions and, yes, the coding stuff will likely be sent off to my webmaster.
[Note: Since I wrote this post I had another piece of content scraped. The site had no contact info. I left a comment with my info and a note… I did some research and found this fabulous post with lots of advice and some plugins that might be helpful.]
Following Tim’s advice has become all the more important since Google did its big Panda Update a while back. You, as a writer, don’t really need to know that much about this. Just understand that you shouldn’t be putting too much “duplicate content” out there in cyberspace. I’ve covered this topic before here in a superb guest post with tons of useful suggestions by V. Michael Santoro. Read what he has to say, too. Put it to use.
As to how fearful you should be about content scraping, here are my thoughts on the subject:
- Don’t be afraid.
- Scraping doesn’t happen that often.
- When it does, take the necessary steps (if you want) to get the content taken down.
- Take precautions.
- Write and publish on the Internet frequently.
- Blog with abandon.
- Take whatever precautions you can or feel are necessary.
- Don’t live in fear.
Living in fear of your content getting scraped won’t help you in the least; in fact, it will hurt you. In this day and age, the way to get yourself published and found—by agents, publishers, readers, and the media—is by publishing your great writing on the internet. So, do that. You can even blog your book. No worries.
And if you still feel afraid, check out my ebook Navigating the Narrow Bridge: 7 Steps for Moving Forward Courageously Even When the Life Seems Most Precarious (also available in paperback here).
One of the easiest ways to become an author—fast—is to blog your book.
Write, publish and promote your work at the same time easily and quickly.
You might even land a publishing deal in the process.
Learn more about how to “Blog Your Way to a Book Deal” in my 4-part teleclass, which begins March 13. (Note date change!)
Register today! Get the details here.