Creating content can be time-consuming, expensive, and downright draining. But when you’re done, especially if your content helps people, the payoff is typically worth the effort.
Here’s the problem, there are dirtballs out there looking to steal your hard work and profit off of it. They’ll scrape the HTML from your website and repost it on their own website.
There are some legal actions you can take… but let’s be real, the type of person doing that isn’t going to care about your claim. Even so, the process probably isn’t worth it, either.
So what the heck can you do about it?
Here are some basic things you can do:
Step 1: Drop a self-referencing canonical link in every post you make.
Canonical links can be confusing if you aren’t technically inclined.
Whether you’re a noob, or you’re a seasoned Software Engineer, Yoast’s Ultimate Guide to Canonical Links is a great place to start. Their guide explains how, when, and why to use canonical links.
If the person stealing your content is lazy, which they likely are, they’re stealing your content using a tool like Scrapebox or a headless browser built on something like Selenium browser automation.
If browser automation or scraping interests you, check out my Co-Founder & me struggle-bussing through building a Twitch automation tool
If the other person is using software, they probably don’t want to deal with reformatting your content. That would be work and these people are sandbaggers. Work isn’t what they do.
They’re probably going to take the HTML code from your site and attempt to plug it directly into their post. If they do this, your canonical link will tell Google to credit your site with the traffic.
Also, if your canonical link is preserved and the person shares the page where they posted your content, most social media sites will redirect social media traffic to your page (the original post).
2. Link and heavily reference your own content and website
You should be doing this anyway as a part of your content marketing strategy. If you aren’t, start.
On the Growth Everywhere podcast with Eric Siu, my buddy Kevin Indig briefly discussed the idea of the interconnected approach to developing a strong content marketing strategy.
Another excellent breakdown of the Spider Web approach to content marketing is this article from Autogrow.co
The big picture idea is to build out a library of content with articles referencing one another. There are many reasons to do this, but in the case of pirates stealing your booty… eh, or your content, the links within your content should allow you to capture some of the traffic back.
3. Drop a Call-To-Action (CTA) in every post
Why are you producing content? Are you trying to lead people to buy something from you?
Are you simply trying to entertain your viewers? Are you trying to make $ off of ads?
Whatever your goal is, there’s something you can ask your readers for in each article.
If your goal is to sell a product or service, you can let people know that you provide that good or service with a link after each article.
If you aren’t selling and just trying to build traffic, you can ask people to signup for updates, blog subscriptions, or even a newsletter.
Whatever success looks like for you, make sure to ask for it.
The added bonus is that if the person stealing your content is as lazy as we expect, they won’t remove your calls-to-action.
Alright. Canonical links are a pretty easy way to protect yourself.
Referencing and linking to your own content is a no-brainer.
Dropping a call-to-action in each post is obvious, too.
Well, then you should be solid and the pirate will unwittingly become another content distribution channel for you!
I wrote this hastily in response to a question I received today. Forgive the lack of imagery, terrible grammar, and haphazard writing style. Improvements will come, but I wanted to give the person a general list in response to their question. I value production over perfection and have an extreme bias for action.
My CTA for you:
If you have any questions, need help with something, or just want to chat, you can: (a) put it in the comment section, or if it’s more urgent, (b) email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put something in the headline about coming from the blog, it will make it easier to respond quickly.