An individual who apparently works for a search marketing firm based in the United States, has stolen copy that I originally wrote and posted it not once, but multiple times on various web forums. I wrote to them about this in an attempt to get them to either remove the posts or modify them so that my original copy does not appear, however they have ignored my request.
Copy theft is happening more and more not only to me but to many individuals who write quality content and publish it online. The copy thief comes along, steals the content and then publishes it elsewhere, claiming it as their own. Not only does it create duplicate content issues, I have seen many times where companies that are direct competitors use our sales copy to compete against us.
This is why we subscribe to Copysentry, a subscription service that finds sites which have copied your content without permission, as well as those that have quoted you. We get a weekly report in which case there is almost always an incident of copy theft.
In this case, the original article is entitled “Ingredients of a Search Engine Friendly Site” and was written by yours truly in January 2005. Here is the portion of copy that was swiped and posted on forums (paragraphs 7, 8 & 9 from original article):
It is true that search engines like content or plain old html text. They do not recognize how aesthetically pleasing your site is but rather will digest the content of your site to understand its subject matter. That is not to say that you should sacrifice design for content. You can actually have the best of both worlds. There is a myth that one has to have all their content appear on the page before graphical components. That is simply not true. As long as there is good content within your pages, it doesn’t matter where it is – search engines will find it. So the challenge then is not “where” to place content but simply to have it in the first place. In having content it is imperative to then have the best content. This is where creativity in presenting information comes into play. If your site offers information on a subject, then make sure you have the best info available on the Internet. If you sell a line of products, make sure you provide content describing the products whether that be in the form of convincing sales verbiage, product reviews, testimonials or all those combined. Make sure your content is written in a natural language. In other words, make sure it is written for the end user in mind.
Who is your target audience. Men? Women? Teens? Business owners? A geographical region? Whatever it be, write for that target audience. This is where a good copywriter that has some basic understanding of SEO will be worth their weight in gold. “What about my keywords?” you ask. There is no reason why your site cannot contain well written content designed for your target audience and at the same time represent your most important keywords.
The person that stole the content gave the appearance that they were trying to provide advice. However, the advice was not theirs to give.
Not only is this person a content thief, they are a forum spammer as well in the fact that they visited four forums (that I’m aware of) and posted the same thing. And the reasoning behind this? Who knows? Self promotion, trying to make themselves look smart, something else?
Typically in these types of cases, a content thief will post an article on their site passing it off as their own or steal sales copy in an attempt to sell their own services. This is the first time someone has posted my original content on a forum, at least trying to pass it off as their own. I’ve been quoted before which I have no problem with due to the fact that I am always given credit for the quote. I do the same. But to steal content in this manner just burns me up.
In one particular forum, I even signed up as a member so I could reply to the content thief. Here is what I wrote:
Did you come up with this on your own? Or did you in fact steal if from something I wrote?
If you guessed the latter then you are correct – content thief!
Because they are most likely what us forum moderators call a “hit-and-run” forum spammer, they are probably clueless to the fact that I actually responded.
Maybe they will see this post in a week or so when it starts to rank number one for their company name. Maybe then I will have their attention and be able to resolve this issue. Only time will tell as I called out another company in March for stealing content and I have still heard nothing from them even though my post ranks # 1 for their name.
Postscript: They did in fact see this post after it ranked # 2 for their company name on Google. The CEO contacted me and said it was a former employee who had done it. I don’t know if I necessarily believed him but did give him the benefit of the doubt as they made attempts to remove all the stolen material. Therefore I have edited this post to remove the names of the company and individual originally responsible.