Plagiarism is a growing problem for webmasters these days, given the implications that plagiarism can have on a webmasters search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, this is an area that deserves some attention. Many webmasters spend hours upon hours writing content for websites, only to sometimes have it stolen or scraped by unscrupulous webmasters, who are either lazy or do not want to take the time to create their own content for whatever reason. Aside from the obvious fact that it is unethical for someone to copy original content and pass it off as their own, the implication that duplicate content can have on search engine optimization goes much deeper than that. Duplicate content can and probably will depreciate the search rankings for one or both of the sites with duplicate content.

It’s actually pretty easy to check for plagiarism if you know how to look. The best way to see if your content has been duplicated is to use a service like Copyscape. The other way you can check your website is to copy and paste a single and meaningful line from your website into Google and if that line appears on a search engine results page (SERP), you will see it. Google Alerts also scans the web to look for duplicate content periodically.

If you do manage to detect duplicate content from your website, here are a few steps you can and should take:

  1. Contact the thief and politely ask them to remove the duplicate content.You can use Domaintools.com to help find out the contact information of someone who owns a domain. If it’s a major site, then you can attempt to contact the web master directly. After getting the contact info, you should attempt to contact the plagiarist and politely ask them to remove the duplicate content.

  2. Contact the search engines, primarily Google, and file a DMCA complaint with them. (The idea is to ensure that the correct site is punished by Google. Also Google may remove the plagiarists’ site from their index entirely.)
  3. Contact the plagiarists’ hosting company and file a DMCA complaint.The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires hosting companies to remove the plagiarized content. However, you must prove the content is stolen. They are not going to just take your word for it. You can easily prove who published the content to the web first by using internet archive.
  4. You can follow up with appropriate legal action if number 1, 2 and 3 do not get the desired results.

Interestingly, checking for plagiarism does not seem to rank high on most webmasters’ lists but it should actually be at the top of a webmasters’ to-do list, given the negative implications it can have on search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.