5 Steps to Proving Your Content Was Stolen

5 Steps to Proving Your Content Was Stolen

You get up in the morning, check your site stats and page rank for targeted keywords.  Something doesn’t look right.  You KNOW you nailed it on a major keyword with page copy and some blog posts pointing in-bound.

You are losing ground.

A quick search tells the tale: your pages were scraped by a competitor or industry blog site and reposted without permission, and their site received indexing credit  for your original content!

There are steps you can take!

1. Copyscape

Copyscape is an on-demand tool for searching the web for duplicate content.   Simply enter the web address for the content you want to verify and click “go” and the search engine scours the indexed web for duplicates of content found on this page.

While highly effective at finding content at time of search, your content may appear on other sites at a later date and you won’t be aware of it.  If you syndicate your content, or are the purchaser/recipient of syndicated content you’ll have to wade through a potentially substantial list of links to other pages around the web containing the same content.

Using Copyscape to combat plagiarism

Copyscape is a great tool for on-demand searches for copyright violators, but if you’re looking for a more active tool, consider the free service provided by the search leader:

2. Google Alerts

Like Copyscape, Google Alerts scours the indexed web for duplicates of your content.  Where Google Alerts distinguishes itself is in the frequency of checks.  Unlike Copyscape, Google Alerts can be set to regular, automated scans of the Web for a chunk of text you enter and save as an alert.  The Alerts then sends you an email when a duplicate is found.

Bear in mind, if you edit your copy at some point you’ll need to update your alert, and if you’re a prolific writer/publisher/blogger, your list of alerts may become unwieldy.

Pro tip: Use quotations around your block of text to enforce full text rather than keyword match.

Check if your content was stolen from Google Alerts
3. Google Webmaster Tools – DMCA Report

One of the most powerful tools for site owners is Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).  Probably the closest thing we have to peeking behind the curtain of Google Search, GWT gives site owners and administrators the ability to see how Google views your Website, content, links, and if you’re in danger of any penalties or errors which might impact your indexing or PageRank.  Another less-prominent tool is the DMCA Removal Tool.

Remove search listing to plagiarized content using Google's DMCA  Removal Tool

Once you’ve identified site or sites violating your copyright and hosting your content on their site, and after you’ve contacted their Webmaster with a takedown request, submit the website to Google DMCA Removal service.  This will queue the case to be reviewed and, if everything checks out, the offending page will be delisted from the index.

4. Ensure You’re Indexed First

Back to Google Webmaster Tools!  In the Crawl menu you’ll find a tool titled “Fetch as Google.”  Within this tool, you can enter the web address to the page of new content you’ve just posted.  If the page is publicly accessible, enter it in the search bar and click “Fetch.”

If no issues are found, the Status column will present a green check mark and “Complete,” and a button to “Submit to index.”  Clicking that button alerts the crawler to the existence of new content and will be prioritized to visit and index the content appearing on that page.

Get your site indexed fast by using Fetch As Google

5. Display Copyright and Date

It seems like a simple and small thing, but adding the copyright (or link to copyright) and publish date to the content from day one both alerts potential content scrapers and also ensures such details will appear in Google cached pages.


You make a significant investment of time and money in posting quality content, it’s important to make a proportionate investment in protecting that asset.  Maintaining controls to protect the investment in content is a snap if you adopt a consistent set of steps as part of your publishing workflow.

If you need help evaluating how protected your current content is, or need to establish a publishing workflow consider hiring a seasoned SEO professional to create and establish an effective workflow for your organization.

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