How To Discover If Your Website Content Has Been Stolen [Case Study]

18 05 2011

With the recent Google Panda/Farmer updates continuing to roll out, the focus for search engine marketing efforts is now to create unique content.  It’s not all about having sound code, the perfectly optimized title, and alt tags on your images (although those are still very important).  You also have to have great content that’s original and helps your visitors – content that will keep them coming back (hopefully buy whatever you’re selling) and even share it on major social media networks.

But sometimes website owners are too busy to create that content themselves and end up using copy writers and free lancers for help.  While this is perfectly fine, you still want to ensure that your content is original.  Many of the websites negatively affected just scraped content from other sites and republished it.  In one of our first tool reviews ever, we’re taking a look at one tool that can help you verify how original content is – Un.Co.Ver.  This free desktop tool from TextBroker allows you to check for content and copyright infringement on a single URL, entire website, or manually entered text:

After you’ve entered in your source, Uncover checks that content against millions of websites for duplications.  In return, you’ll see a percentage of words that matches your source – the higher the number the more your content has been copied:

uncover tool results

In our testing, this tool worked so well we actually discovered someone stealing 54.4% of the Formic Media website.  Take a look at the first result in the screenshot above…a has 204 copied words and a 54.4% match. We found that quite extreme, given that we knew the other sites in the list were okay.  Already a little concerned, we took a closer look at Mr. James E. McIntosh’s site and discovered something even worse:

Notice a resemblance?

Now let’s see just where exactly we’ve been aggrieved:

  • Aside from the glaringly similar design (changing everything to blue doesn’t make it unique), the image slider at the top rotates in pieces exactly like ours,
  • The text under “Social Media Marketing” and “Website Design” actually links to our Website Design page,
  • The icons, which our designer worked tirelessly to create, still show a little of our orange behind the blue,
  • And on his “Social Media Marketing” page, he forgot to remove our name completely.

If you’re going to copy our site, at least do it well.  It appears as if all they did was copy our source code (which explains the links still pointing to our site).  The image slider loads way off-center, there are a lot of broken links, and the social media icons at the top link to brand new profiles that don’t have any content. Now our initial reaction was to broadcast to the whole world about getting ripped off, but we contacted Mr. McIntosh first and asked him to take down the current version or pay a licensing fee because of the copyright.  With no answer after a follow-up email and 6 full days, there is still a nearly duplicate site live (it now appears that the site has been taken down). The website is now up again, this time with his own name misspelled.

We shared Uncover with you in hopes that others might discover similar rip offs and take appropriate action.  We’re still waiting the hear from Mr. McIntosh, so in the meantime we would love to see if this has happened to anyone else.  Have you ever had your site or content stolen?

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