— October 22, 2018
Hello there, brilliant entrepreneurs! Yes, you read it right. There are some bad people out there stealing website content. They’re not Russian hackers, either. Nope! They are website designers, developers, and businesses that are too lazy or uncreative to develop their own content. In this post, I tell you why copied content hurts you, show you how to find out if yours has been stolen, by whom, and what to do about it.
Ready? Let’s go!
This summer, two of my long-term clients, both dentists, experienced massive drops in website traffic at exactly the same time. Each website regularly received over 20,000 visits per month—suddenly, the traffic had dropped by half.
A Recent Google Algorithm Change Was Only Part Of It
I have pretty good SEO chops, but not good enough to deal with something like this. So I hired a full-time SEO pro and tasked him to figure out what went wrong (if you need someone great, I highly recommend him—reach out to me for contact info). It turns out that a recent Google algorithm change has significantly affected most medical websites. His analysis turned up some interesting findings that I’d like to share with you.
Now, Google loves websites that contain an interactive map. One of the sites in question did not have one. Easy fix. Second, on both sites, the speed that they opened had slowed down since we launched them last year. So, we’re working on that. Not a total piece of cake, but doable.
Then, he showed me a long list of websites (all dental) that have copied the original content that I had so painstakingly written for my clients. In other words, there are website designers out there, that copied and pasted text directly from the websites of my clients.
Stealing Website Content Is More Than Unethical—It Can Hurt Your Business!
An essential ingredient for good rankings on Google is always to publish unique content on your website. Each website I work on has unique content that appears nowhere else. Why am I so sure? Because I write it!
So, not only are these website owners hurting my clients’ practices, but they are also infringing on copyrights.
What To Do About Stolen Website Content
Here are some tips, from Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media:
1. Send the website owners a cease and desist letter—This is where we are starting.
2. Let their Chamber of Commerce know—Figuring out if each of the companies is a member feels like a lot of work. Not sure we’re going to try this.
3. Leave a one-star review on their Google local listings—I’ll bet that most of the dentists in question don’t know their website contains stolen content. They may be really good dentists and I wouldn’t want to hurt their practice. So, we probably won’t do this. (To find out more about Google local listings, link here.)
4. Send their host a “takedown” letter—It sounds harsh, but it may be necessary. Link here for a sample letter.
5. Tell Google.
6. Get a lawyer involved.
One more tip: take screenshots of the offending pages and include them with your letters.
As of now, we are now in the process of contacting all the dentists who own the offending sites. Although it’s a tedious process, I’m hopeful that most of them have no idea their websites contain plagiarized content and will be horrified, and will take it down right away. Fingers crossed.
I’ll keep you posted.
If you have experienced this problem and were able to quickly get it fixed, let me know!