The Ericksons

Webspam : How to Report a Site that Copies Yours


webspam

Recently, another website copied one of my blog posts. They copied it word for word, including the images, with a few exceptions. They removed all of my links and said that they had authored the piece. The other strange thing was that there was no way to reach anyone in charge of their site. There was no contact page or any links leading to anyone with whom I could communicate. This is called webspam. It’s different than linking to a post or even reposting. Webspam is stealing.

It’s a real problem and needs to be dealt with.  Or does it? At first, I wondered if it was even a big deal. Disturbing, yes, but isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery? Not when it comes to webspam. Sites use webspam in an attempt to trick Google and other search engines into ranking one of their pages higher than the page which originally produced and published the content.

Credit where Credit is Due

You might think, “But I was the original author. I published that post 2 months ago. Surely Google will know that I should be ranking higher for this content.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Google’s bots are smart, but this kind of issue still eludes them. All they know is that there are 2 sites with the same content out there. They basically give credit for the content to whichever site already ranks higher. It doesn’t matter who the original author is and which site is creating webspam.

To make matters worse, in an effort to crack down on duplicate content on the web, the “other site” gets hit with a penalty in their SEO score. SEO is used to determine where your page ranks for certain keywords people enter in their Google search. The higher your SEO, the closer you are to the top of Google’s search results.

It doesn’t seem fair

But, it is actually a decent system that sorts out the best information for consumers who are searching for it. It’s a combination of how well your article is written, the use (but not overuse) of keywords, what people are looking for, what content is out there (aka the competition), etc. The article that the other site copied ranked decently for a small site like mine. It was in the middle of the 2nd page of Google’s search results. Not great, but not bad either. That’s exactly what webspam creators want. They look for smaller sites that they can outrank just because they are bigger. Then, they take your content and claim it as their own.

What I didn’t know was how to deal with the problem.

Thankfully, Google has a great system in place to deal with webspam. They have tools for webmasters to report pages which are disseminating webspam as well as buying and selling links, objectionable content, malware, copyright infringement, disclosing private information, phishing for sensitive information, and other abuses of Google’s products.

They have also made reporting Webspam easy

All I had to do was go to the reporting page and fill out the site address of the webspam and tell them in my own words what the issue was. I did this in only 2 minutes. Google immediately sent me a confirmation email. That was 3 days ago. Today, just to see what was happening, I went to the site that had copied my post. It was gone! Not the site, but the copied post. Google had quickly fixed the issue. I was impressed.

What are YOUR thoughts?

Has your site ever fallen prey to webspam or copyright infringment? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

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About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

10 comments on “Webspam : How to Report a Site that Copies Yours

That is amazing. How did you find it in the first place? I have a Google alert for my blog names but don’t get too much disturbing that way.

I had no idea this could happen. I would have had no idea what to do, so thanks for this. Ugh. What a mess. I’m glad Google sorted it out for you.

Hi Heather,
Good for you for pursuing this problem and resolving it.
I have the same question as Jacqui – how did you find it in the first place? If they stripped out all of the links, there wouldn’t have been any pingbacks to you.

I’ve heard of it happening but I wouldn’t know if any of my stuff had been stolen. I had a couple of pins stolen and relinked to another person’s site – that was annoying and I just commented on them rather than reporting them. I’ve pinned this for when the inevitable happens!

Hi Jacqui. I have google alerts for several things including my name, my blog names, and topics I blog about. At first, when I saw it, I did a double take. It “looked” different because the fonts were changes and of course My photograph was gone. My name wasn’t on it anywhere, so that didn’t pop up. Oddly enough, it was the name Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker that set the alert off (the name, not the link). I originally published the post on my other blog, Facing Cancer with Grace. By the way, congratulations on the Kirkus Award for Born in a Treacherous Time! For some reason, WordPress wouldn’t let me comment on your post today.

Hi Liz. I am, too. And they took care of it so quickly! The interesting thing is that there were hundreds of posts, just like mine, all stripped of their links and attributed to the same fake author. Now, they are all gone. The whole site is now in Chinese and the “western” images that had filled the site are now replaced with images of things/people in China.

Hi Karen. I responded to Jacqui on this. It was such a happenstance thing that I even found it. Half of the time I just scan those Google alert emails I get. Part of it was that the post was from A to Z (which was included in the text of their copy, too, just no links). So, I paid attention. I’d never even heard of webspam before this.

Hi Leanne. That was the first thing I tried. I commented that I was the author of the site. Comments were never posted, even though (from my text in the original post which was retained in the copy) comments were requested. But something really bothered me about this. I wouldn’t mind someone reposting with credit and links. And of course I love links to my site, but this would do nothing other than lover my SEO. And something seemed really sleazy about the site, itself. So, I googled how to take care of it. My understanding is that this is a big problem on Pinterest. I believe they have a way to report stolen pins, too. It sounds harsh, but when you think about all of the work you put into creating your content, it’s not right for others to take that work and claim it as their own. It’s like that motto, “Piracy is not a victimless crime.”

I’ve heard of people stealing blog posts, but didn’t know there was a word for it. Thanks for the info about this.

Hi Patricia. I had never heard the term either. It’s too bad there are people out there who do that sort of thing. At least Google seems to be doing a good job of taking care of these kinds of issues. Have a wonderful week!

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