I just learned what ‘scraping‘ means in Internet Marketing terms.
And it’s not pretty.
I was suggested a post via a guest blogging site (which I no longer use, more on that later) and asked if I might be interested in adding it as a guest article on our site.
Yes! I would, and I did. It was a lovely post about where to find great places to go mountain biking around Europe. Something like the best 5 places to go mountain biking in Europe.
(do a Google search on that and you may very well find the same post or a variation of it).
The ‘author’ just wanted to promote his own site. I don’t actually mind that as long as it’s just one link and we even put a link to the authors site up front and in bold at the top of the article for all to see. I asked the ‘author’ to remove the other two links.
It turns out the author wasn’t the author at all. On a whim, perhaps also fuelled a little by the article having a couple of odd links in it, I did a search on a string of text I picked randomly from the article. It turned out that almost exactly the same article existed on another site. The author had told me that the article had just been written recently and was unique.
I asked the author who copied who? In fairness he was fairly good about it – he claimed not to be the author at all and said someone he’d employed had written the article for him but it was just to get backlinks. He said he had no idea that the article wasn’t unique (right!) and he understood why I was taking it off our site.
We don’t have a lot of guest articles but the ones we do have are from great authors. We work hard to keep this quality and integrity on our site and the one time I didn’t really know the author at all, it turned out to be a little dodgy. I suppose that’s what these guest blogging sites are used for, more like machines that churn out content for backlinks than real quality, but I’ll come back to that with a more in-depth look at it.
So What Is Scraping?
This left me a little sad because it was quite a nice article. The so called author told me that the article had clearly been ‘scraped’ from the other one. Scraping is when one sites content is copied and then passed off as someone else’s. I have since learned that another possibility is that instead of being scraped, this and the other article (and perhaps other versions on top) had been ‘spun’ – but that’s a different topic (article spinning) which I’ll write more about in a separate post.
Protecting Your Site From Being ‘Scraped’
On this site I have installed a plug-in called blog protector which hopefully will prevent a similar thing happening to us and our content. Apparently it’s not completely bulletproof but it at least should stop any casual copy cats.
For now I’m quite happy that our content is protected in this way. We put a lot of very valuable expertise into our content and often spend a lot of time researching the content before publishing the articles. So I don’t feel comfortable with the idea that someone could come along and steal it. That being said I do notice that a lot of other websites I consider to have high quality content don’t disable the copying of their content so I do wonder why that is and may end up revisiting that policy.
What do you think?