Just as you lock your front doors when you leave the house and lock your car when you are out and about to prevent your valuables from being stolen, you can–and should–take measures to protect your electronic data from theft, as well. For most people, the value of protecting web-based content is often overlooked. Whether it is because they don’t know how to defend themselves from cyber crime or they don’t believe they are at risk of having content stolen, there are a number of writers, bloggers, and others who routinely post information on the web, who never protect their content, leaving it vulnerable to thieves and content scrapers, who take their material and pass it off as their own. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to prevent others from scraping.
Content Scraping: You’ve heard of it, but what is it?
Content scraping is essentially the electronic equivalent of plagiarism. Content scrapers may work as individuals or in teams. They search the web routinely for quality content that is relevant to the services they provide or products they offer, then they take the information they find and transport it to their own website. Content scrapers will often set up a special site, create a fun and interesting theme, and then install plug-ins and software to hunt for, find, and extract content from relevant blogs, sites, and articles. These programs then take the written content and send it back to the content scrapers’ website, where it is then published.
Consequences of Content Scraping
You may be surprised to learn there are other consequences you might face as the victim of content scraping, beyond the frustration of finding your work posted elsewhere when you check to see if it has been taken. First, as a writer, you know that it takes time to do the research and writing necessary for developing quality work. You might spend hours, even days, working on your writing projects and assignments, and are probably quite proud of the end result. When you post your work on your website, you want others to find it, and associate your name with impressive content. In reward for your efforts, you receive payment.
Just as you are motivated to keep putting your written work online by the attention you receive and financial compensation, content scrapers are motivated, as well. As soon as your blog post goes up, they find it and post it on their own site. It takes just minutes for them to snatch your content, put it on their site, and pass it off as their own. Then, the software they use to find and extract the content in the first place works in their favor by making the stolen work appear as original content. As a result, the web traffic that should be going to your website is diverted to theirs. With the increased number of hits and clicks it receives, their website rises in the rankings, which increases their SEO ratings, visibility and popularity, and draws attention (as well as readers and potential clients) away from you.
Worse yet, your loss may be their gain. When you post written content online, part of the revenue you receive comes from the volume of hits your site receives. When content scrapers re-direct traffic to their site instead, they end up earning money for the content that was originally yours. Using this method is a fast and easy way for scrapers to make money, and some make a business out of preying on others.
So What Can You Do To Stop It?
While it is easy for content thieves to take your work from the web using software and plug-ins, it is just as easy for you to stop them by using similar methods. You can purchase and download your own content scraping prevention software, which lets you know when others are taking your work, or you can subscribe to a service or hire a third party to do the content searching for you, and to take action against thieves if duplicate work is found. One such alternative is ScrapeSentry anti-scraping service that helps to stop content predators on WordPress and other blogging websites by providing real-time feedback, monitoring, and reporting to stop others from accessing your site and to let you know when they are trying to take advantage of your intellectual property.
You spend countless hours doing research and taking the time to write and post quality content online through blogs and web articles. Keep your work safe from harm by protecting yourself from content theft. Software and anti-web scraping programs can help safeguard you from harm, while protecting your business and reputation.