10 Ways to Position Your Blog Above Copycats

This is a guest post by Gabrielle Conde.

So, you’re seeing your post on scraper blogs, and want to know how to avoid them outranking your content in Google?

When my daughter watches Dora The Explorer, they stop the thief, Swiper, by simply raising their hands and saying, “Swiper, no swiping.”

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy in real life.

It makes sense to want to go after them. After all, it’s your hard work put into those posts and this lazy person just copied and pasted.

Stop Blog Scrapers

Let’s move beyond the blame game you find that Google isn’t removing these blogs and differentiate you from those copycats.

1. Brand your blog.

Stand out from your competition and copycats by branding your blog. If you’re a company, create a logo and color scheme to identify your blog from all the rest.

Even if you use an out-of-the-box WordPress theme, have the header changed. If you’re a solopreneur, put your face on the blog, preferably in the header.

Copycat blogs typically use a free or minimalist theme. Most are highly disorganized. It’s hard to even read the content amidst all the blinking and Google text ads. By putting your face on your blog, readers will know the real deal right away. Most importantly, they bond with you better.

2. Craft your RSS feed content to avoid making it easy for content thieves.

Michael Martinez published this post about how scraper blogs exploit RSS feeds like Feedburner by sending out links to blogs on a buy list. It’s useful for traffic to submit your RSS feeds and still encourage you to submit your blog to popular RSS lists. However, I do agree with his suggestion to post just a paragraph and not the entire article in your RSS feeds.

3. Start video blogging more.

Video blogging is getting bigger and bigger. It’s an exciting time to do it because so many people view YouTube each day, about 100 million on YouTube mobile, to be exact. If you’ve got a video camera and a few minutes, you can create one on the fly and post it on your blog.

Not sure what to say? Just focus on one point you want to make during your video. Keep it simple and smile.

4. Let them have it.

Yes, just give it to them, with style, of course. Post a creative commons license on your content and a byline at the end. In the byline, write that it’s okay for them to grab the post as long as they don’t edit it and leave the byline with a link to your site.

A friend of mine did this for her posts. I thought it was a brilliant idea because if anyone wanted to repost the content, she’d get links back to her blog and traffic.

5. Create internal links to more of your content.

We’re counting on these scraper blogs not paying attention to the actual post. Let’s believe they’re lazy and just copy and paste content without even reading it. Despite the copycats stealing your stuff, having links to more of your content will drive visitors to your site.

6. Put a copyright on your stuff.

Use a plagiarism warning via Copyscape on your blog to scare them off. Copyscape has a program, for instances your content was stolen, you can use to monitor the web. By pasting this banner on your site, you warn any potential thieves that you’ll be tracking them down.

7. Go after them.

In a thread on the WordPress forums, some users mentioned visiting Stolen Content to report content thieves. It’s happened to other blogs and they’ve posted some information about who they contacted. Copyscape also has a post about responding to plagiarism that includes filing with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and contacting the blog’s website host company. Wouldn’t it make you smile to check the scraper blog in question and see, “This blog has been shut down for abuse,” in place of their website?

8. Build your network.

A strategic way to build your community on your blog is by networking. Having an online network of marketers and peers will help you position yourself above copycats because you’ll have comments on your hard work and a thriving community that knows where to find you.

9. Put your personality in your posts.

No one can duplicate your personality. Make yours shine through in your posts. You can insert humor or a snippet about yourself. By being yourself, you give your audience a chance to bond with you.

A scraper blog that’s stealing your post can’t keep that up over time. They’re just going to grab someone else’s content and paste it as their own.

10. Don’t participate in copycat stuff unless you’re an Elvis impersonator.

Unless you copycat famous personalities for a living, you just have time to be one person, yourself. One of the best ways to get clear from copycats is to adamantly state that you refuse to participate and write a blog post about how you loathe copycats.

Spin Sucks even named their blog with their mission to end the spinning of lies. By stating your view on stealing content, you send a clear message to any copycat thinking of swiping your stuff.

Stealing is another form of lying. If a scraper blog isn’t crediting you for the content, they’re stealing.

How do you set up your blog against copycats? Or do you let it not bother you? Share your approach in the comments.

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Comments

  1. says

    Ah Gabrielle, video posts are all well and good when you don’t have a face that looks like it’s walked into a hammer, and a horiffic Mancunian accent…

    Great point about personality too. I’ve written in the past about how important tone of voice is, and it’s a lesson that bears repeating!

    Not too sure how effective Copyscape is though.
    Andy Nattan just posted What Bloggers Need to Learn from Poets

    • says

      Ha ha! That’s exactly right about tone of voice. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to video or not, having enthusiasm will instantly pick up the energy and spread.

      For Copyscape, it’s meant as a deterrent, as effective as one of those “Warning! This house is protected by Neighborhood Watch Program.” Supposedly though, in the United States, the programs reduce crime by up to 26%, according to the Campbell Collaboration.

      Since writing this, I believe that the personality and branding makes the biggest difference. Thanks for your comment, Andy.
      Gabrielle just posted Mission: Goals Course Giveaway

  2. says

    I got sucked in by one of these scraper blogs today (for five minutes) – it came up really high on a Google search. The site design was dreadful but there were all these posts from Matt Cutts (from Google) and I was wondering what he was doing blogging for such an awful site. Then it dawned on me that it was a ‘fake’ blog and just stealing other people’s content.

    It’s sad, a friend of mine gave up her really popular blog after she got sick of fighting the content stealers. She wouldn’t have minded so much but they took her affiliate links and replaced it with theirs! So very brazen.
    Cathy just posted How to Plan and Write your Ebook with the modified Snowflake Method

    • says

      Good thing you spotted that blog as a fake today! Sorry to hear that about your friend, Cathy.

      My first blog had some content stolen from it and although they linked back to me, that blog didn’t seem to stick around for maybe a year. I suppose they didn’t receive much income from the adsense to pay the hosting fees and decided to split.

      What I’ve learned recently is that it’s mainly done for SEO, although there’s more honest ways to get ranking than brazenly stealing content from another, like fostering online relationships.
      Gabrielle just posted Mission: Goals Course Giveaway

  3. says

    Hi Gabrielle,

    Good to see you back blogging. Detailed write up. I usually do not think about copycats. I am looking at helping bloggers and small businesses. In the process I make money and I am happy about it. The subject I talk about is general and almost every one follows the same principles.
    Eddie Gear just posted Thank You, Derek Halpern

    • says

      Hi Eddie! Thank you. I saw your new site design and I’m excited to hear that you’re doing well in your business! You’ve got your mind in the right place, focus on the people you help. Less stress! :)

  4. says

    No doubt in that video post have own identity which can help to huge traffic on your post.

    Beside that all points are very nice but i like which most that one “”Don’t participate in copycat stuff unless you’re an Elvis impersonator. “” and i am sure if we will follow this rule in our blog post then definitely we will get good response.

  5. says

    I thought this post had valuable information in it. I got frustrated with Copyscape and tried a service that was supposed to check to see if anyone was stealing my photos, but it wasn’t very good. One thing you can do is use a tagline in the post, either at the end or in the content, that is fairly unique, then search for it using Google. If you turn it up, your content was scraped.
    Stephanie Suesan Smith just posted Top Ten Scary Bugs

  6. says

    The most important part is copy infringement and trying to stop plagiarism. Sometimes these people can really fool people – as we see with fake Twitter and Facebook profiles, too. It’s sad but that is just reality.
    We have to be aware and make others aware, too!

  7. says

    Hi Gabrielle, there are so many ways to create videos without getting in front of the camera. Screencasting is my favorite and it also helps build your brand and your authority on a given topic. Be sure to add your url to the description of your video and at the beginning of the recording too.
    I add a string of characters to my RSS feed and set up Google Alerts with YoLinks to search for it.
    Ileane just posted Promoting Your Content on YouTube

    • says

      Hi Ileane! You are so right about screencasting. I’ve seen businesses using it all the time and having excellent results in building authority. :) I’m planning on starting to use it soon! Thank you for your awesome tip about RSS and Google Alerts.

  8. says

    Gabrielle,

    Great list of ways to deal with those horrible copycats. They really get under my skin. But I do like your “let them have it” idea. if someone must copy your stuff at least if they provide a link back they aren’t harming you with the duplicate content. Of course I’m still rather not have people copying at all but this minimizes the damage.
    Steve just posted 6 Eye-Catching Graphics that ALL Blogs Need

  9. says

    Number 2 and number 5 contradict each other. I’d go for #5, and at least get some link credit for your posts. Who cares about the scrapers? If you are doing any promotion of your blog, it will stand out just by the fact that people see it. Scraper blogs are not seen almost anywhere (although some are getting picked up by Google Alerts).
    David just posted SocialFloat – social sharing widget

  10. says

    Just recently Google created a new feature within Google Webmaster Tools to alert webmasters if they version of a page wasn’t the “preferred” one – the page that shows up when the same content is indexed at multiple pages and only one is ranked high in search results.

    I used to notice blogs that scraped some of my content, but because I had links to other areas on my site in these blog posts the scraper sites ended up linking back to my site. The links are pretty worthless but it shows who the original article was taken from :)
    Techie just posted Zagg Invisible Shield Review

  11. says

    It’s difficult for me to check to see where my stuff is going. I used to write for this website in the past and lots of my articles got stolen and re-published. Nothing was done about it.

    I wouldn’t know how or where to check to see where my blog articles have gone. I know it must be happening, but I don’t know where. That’s yet another thing to worry about. I try to keep my head buried in the sand where stealing content is concerned.

    The sad thing is, I work so hard to create original content for all my sites.
    Anne Lyken-Garner just posted How To Paint A Room

  12. says

    Just like to compliment the above posts and say “Do Things Differently”!
    You’ll be surprised how many blogs follow the same format. Headline, picture, text, inset picture, call to action. There’s nothing wrong with that format – I’m using it right now. But it pays to mix it up a little.

    As for video, you don’t need anything beyond a (relatively) cheap microphone and/or webcam to start putting together audio and video content. Releasing a podcast or a how-to video (or rant) is sure to grab attention, and it gives your readers a welcome break from the bog standard “copycat” format.

    Of course, the chances are that not everyone is an expert in multiple fields with an unmistakeable style and amazing screen presence (I’m certainly not), but that shouldn’t stop you from trying..
    Shamelle just posted 5 Ways Better Blogging Ways Is Different From Every Other Blog On Blogging

    • says

      Yes, Eugen, teasers, from my experience, are a great way to introduce your readers to other blogs and posts they might not have known about otherwise. If they’re relevant to your niche, then providing that service for your readers is great. Likewise if someone is quoting you and linking to your blog.

  13. says

    Hi Gabrielle, nice topic. It’s amazing at how quickly this content scraping issue is growing. Within hours I receive several trackback requests from low life scrapers.

    One thing I just started doing is linking my subtitle, with heading tag, to the original post. This links back to my post at the top of the page even when the scrping site doesn’t. I also include internal links, as we all should, for many reasons.
    Brian D. Hawkins just posted Google Plus Hangouts For Business Tips

  14. says

    Interesting :) However, the content scrappers are now not that stupid. Lots of them manually edit the link so that my blog posts’ internal links are completely change. I am so depressed seeing the thefts copying my blog’s content over and over. The number is getting increased. DMCA complaint cannot do much… :(
    However, I totally agree that the blog’s brand and its author personality cannot be stolen in anyways. Trust is number one. The readers can judge whether the content of a blog is qualified enough or not. They know exactly.
    Nice and useful post. Thanks :)
    Azmee just posted Kaos Blogger™ Eksklusif Plus Nama Blog, Buruan! (Pre Order)

  15. says

    Putting links to your other posts in an article may help as you mentioned. That way if it is scraped or someone does the copy and paste thing hopefully they will end up reposting your links. Whether it will get you any traffic or not I guess it depends, but at least you may get a backlink. I don’t know too many people that have done the dmca thing, but I do hear it mentioned often.
    Ray just posted How to tell if links are dofollow or nofollow

  16. says

    Wow, these are all awesome tips to keep people from stealing your content. I’ve actually come across a couple of my competitors websites that have stolen PAGES! Now tell me that wouldn’t irritate you a little bit.

    No matter what, there’s always going to be content that’s close to your on the web. There’s just too much information out there. I do like the idea that if they “borrow” your post they have to provide a link back to your site, though.
    Owner Financed Homes Austin TX just posted Austin Owner Financed Homes: Why Some Sellers Opt For This Selling Method

  17. says

    Thanks for the cool advise. I like the idea to let them take the content but leave the link. It can work and you will benefit from it. Videos is a great idea too as it is harder to steal video and you can use video instead of your posts and even present information in such a way to your readers.

  18. says

    Hi Gabrielle,

    I have had my content stolen so many times, that I basically gave up. One of the funniest stories about it is that one of those blogs that basically was a complete replica of my blog and all my content (with no credit links of course) contacted me for a link exchange (thats how I found out about it in the first place).

    It got me so mad that I did send him/her an email, stating that if my content isn’t removed by next week or if all my content don’t include a credit link back to my blog I would contact his host and he/she could get in a lot of trouble. Thankfully that was enough to scare him, so he did take them down.
    Satrap just posted How to Make Money Online

  19. says

    Hi Gabrielle,
    Nice tutorial.You have shared great information on how to position our blog above copycats.All 10 points are simple and can easily be followed.Thanks for taking time to write this post for us.
    Pete Goumas just posted TimepiecesUSA Review

  20. says

    Gabrielle, these are all wonderful tips – thanks for sharing. One of the things I have done with videos (so that I don’t have to speak in front of the camera) is to create one using screen capture software. That way, if I’m showing someone how to do something, rather than just being a talking head, I take them through the process step-by-step.

    As for scraper sites taking your stuff, I now realize that this has happened to me before (yet at the time wondered why they had. Now I know why). Thankfully I always link to pages and other blog posts throughout the article so I’ll make sure I continue to do that.

    Thanks again Gabrielle.
    Annemarie Cross just posted Twitter Strategies: How to increase engagement and exposure

  21. says

    I agree with Gabrielle on the added use of video material. Yet I also think that RSS feeds are really part of what the whole WEB 2.0 experience is all about, so I’m still not sure where to draw the line on plagiarism. That being said, not having sources mentioned on posts that are copied, clearly is a no-no and I don’t agree with such conduct at all.

    Good read, thanks,
    Saku

  22. says

    Wow, Gabrielle that was really a compact and great list of making our blog scraper unfriendly…I think it is a great idea to use excerpts in RSS and also the idea of making more usage of video blogging is also quite a good one. One other point that I liked a lot was the more internal linking thing, I think that will give us more benefits in fact since most scrapers publish posts without reading, that will bring us more backlinks.
    Shiva just posted Top Best Free and Premium WordPress Popup Plugins

  23. says

    Plagiarism can be a huge problem. I had an experience early on where I found a copy of my post on a different blog. I had to write to the webmaster several times. At first I offered to let them keep it with an attribution, but I received no response. Eventually, I had to threaten to report them before they would remove my post. Afterwards they responded by banning my ip from their site so it would be harder for me to check on future copyright violations I suppose.. It was an awful experience.
    Richard just posted Get The Steve Jobs’ Biography Free Audiobook

  24. says

    The hint to post only a paragraph to your feed to prevent scraping is interesting and one thing I hadn’t heard before.

    I have to disagree with letting them have it, though. This operates on the principle that getting backlinks is better for business, which is true. However, you’d be getting linked to by scrapers… Isn’t that bad for SEO by most accounts?

    Also, I’d like to recommend a plug-in like Bad Behavior. It’s originally intended to prevent spam bots from commenting on your blog, but it works by preventing bots from ever seeing your content in the first place – nip it in the bud sort of thing – and would also work to prevent scrapers on your blog. That said, I don’t know how many actually get to your blog. Maybe they all work off RSS. Either way. It’s worth it just for spam prevention.
    Michael Hoppal just posted Topic Inspiration for the Uninspired