How to Prevent Digital Thieves from Nabbing your Content

Are you fed up of slaving over a hot laptop (the battery’s on the blink) only to see your freshly baked content duplicated elsewhere? Yeah, well join the club.

Sharing might be caring as far as digital content is concerned, but only if you’re sharing in the right way. There’s a fine line between sharing and stealing, and when all you ask for is a quick link back to the original source, there’s really no excuse for having your content quoted, referenced or even duplicated elsewhere without a digital thank you.

Most hardened copywriters will be only too used to seeing their cracking content reappear in some dark, crummy little corner of the web. And when you’ve pored over every word, not getting any kudos is a bit of a kick in the teeth.


But copywriters rejoice because there is some good news:

  • There aren’t any penalties coming your way – Most copywriters will have heard their technically-minded SEO buddies talking about Google penalties for websites publishing duplicated content. However, the search engines will always recognise who published the content first. That means it’s the thieves that’ll receive the penalties and not you.
  • Your content is fly – If your content is being duplicated around the web then you’re obviously doing something right. That said, it’s similar to having your car stolen and seeing it as a compliment about your taste in hatchbacks.
  • You can stop the pilferers in their tracks – You do not have to be a victim. There are a number of steps you can take to keep your content away from those who wish it harm.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your cherished content safe…

  • Show them the big ©

A simple way to make light-fingered browsers think twice about copying and pasting your content is to become familiar with the ALT + 0169 shortcut. Most websites will have the copyrighted sign in the footer of their websites, but you can also use it on your content. Displaying this sign prominently will make it clear that your content is not to be used without attribution.

  • Give them a helping hand

Thieves might have the intention of making a quick grab and dash, but there are ways you can make it really easy to use your content in the right way. A plugin like WordPress’s ‘Add Link to Copied Text’ allows you to add a message and link to any copy that is lifted from your site. The copy snafflers will then have to actively delete the link, which may make them think twice.

Alternatively, you could create a generic ‘here’s how to use my content page’, which tells interested parties how they can use your copy legitimately. If that results in a few backlinks then it’s well worth the 15 minutes it’ll take to create.

  • Wave goodbye to copy and paste

One tool that’s becoming increasingly popular around the web is the WP-CopyProtect plugin. That renders your content uncopy-and-pasteable, which will drive copy thieves to distraction. Rather than reproducing your copy from memory, they’re more likely to look for easier pickings elsewhere.

Share and share alike

Of course, if you take an overly militant approach to deter copy thieves then there is a risk you’ll scare the well-meaning sharers of the web away too. Creating a digital presence that appears higher than position 14,003 in the search engine rankings requires a level of shareability, so take that into account when choosing which measures to put in place.

About the author

Nathan Jeans has been providing SEO copywriting services at To Your Hearts Content for more than five years. When he’s not angry about people stealing his content, he’s busy being angry about any number of other things.


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