The alarming rise in content theft

The alarming rise in content theft

James Ashton says there is a major issue with content theft and plagiarism and suggests ways affiliates can protect their most valuable asset

Published 7th October 2020

Right, I’m just going to come out and say it – the online gambling affiliate industry has a big problem with content theft and plagiarism and it absolutely must stop.

In the past six months, we have had several instances where other affiliate sites – and in one instance an operator – have directly copied content from our pages and used it on theirs.

I’m not talking about a few sentences being slightly amended, I’m talking about hundreds, even thousands, of words that have been copied and pasted.

In one instance, an affiliate even plagiarised an entire page – that is 3,000 words of unique content that we spent many hours researching and writing – without changing a single word.

In a market where content is king, and affiliates such as us invest heavily in creating the best content out there, this is damaging and completely unacceptable.

It is theft, and at FindMyUKCasino.com we treat it as such. We spend a great deal of time monitoring our content and checking for any instances of plagiarism.

I can only assume that other affiliates are experiencing the same, or perhaps webmasters are just not aware that their content is being plagiarised.

Here are the steps we take to protect our content and what we do when we identify an instance where our content has been used unlawfully.

1. USE GOOGLE ALERTS AND REGULAR SEARCHES TO IDENTIFY PLAGIARISED CONTENT

Set up Google Alerts for key phrases, sentences and paragraphs so that if that exact phrase, sentence or paragraph appears on another page in the SERPs, you will be notified.

A more labour intensive, albeit effective, approach is to do a manual search by typing the same phrases, sentences and paragraphs into Google. The results will then identify all indexed pages where those phrases, sentences and paragraphs occur. If they are not your pages, then the content has been plagiarised.

2. USE COPYSCAPE TO CHECK THE EXTENT OF PLAGIARISM

Copyscape is great tool as it allows you to compare content across two pages, highlighting any areas of similarity between the two.

Simply enter the URL of your page and the page you believe has stolen your content and it will automatically generate the matches (see below):

ACTUAL COPYSCAPE COMPARISON PAGE SHOWING ORIGINAL FINDMYUKCASINO.COM CONTENT (LEFT) AND PLAGIARISED CONTENT (RIGHT)

Of course, when writing about the same subject there are bound to be instances where content is similar but Copyscape allows you to easily identify where it has literally been copied and pasted.

3. CONTACT THE WEBMASTER

If you are feeling kind, you can contact the webmaster, point out that they have plagiarised your content and ask them to remove it.

We use this approach if it is clear the site has used our content as a basis for its page but has not made enough changes for it to be sufficiently different to ours.

We usually give the webmaster five working days to amend the content or remove the page before we escalate the matter to Google and work with it to have the content removed.

4. CONTACT GOOGLE AS THEY TAKE COPY THEFT VERY SERIOUSLY

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Google will investigate and de-index a page that it believes contains plagiarised content.

To report content theft to Google, you need to provide evidence through its Search Console tool. Google then carries out a manual investigation.

If it agrees that copy has been stolen, it will remove that page from its search results and issue the webmaster a notice to inform them of their copyright breach.

We have done this on several occasions now and have found the process to be incredibly efficient and effective. Google really does take it seriously.

STEALING CONTENT COULD BE END GAME FOR AFFILIATES AND OPERATORS

While affiliates and operators may not take content theft and plagiarism all that seriously, the consequences of them being found guilty of breaching copyright could be devastating.

In an industry where ranking highly in Google is the difference between success and failure, having a page de-indexed and a black mark placed against your site could be terminal. It’s worth remembering that a lot of affiliates have content-heavy homepages, so if a homepage was considered to have breached the DMCA then that would be the page that is de-indexed.

It really is a shame that affiliates and, to a lesser extent, operators are stealing content. At the end of the day, this is theft and it should be treated as such.

The good news is that affiliates can take steps to protect themselves and ultimately have pages removed from Google where clear copyright breaches have taken place.

While imitation is often considered the sincerest form of flattery, in this case it isn’t. Unfortunately, motioning for content theft is now just another aspect of running an affiliate

 business.


JAMES ASHTON is the head of content at FindMyUKCasino.com, an online casino comparison site that helps UK players find the best online casinos based on their individual preferences.

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