Over the past many years, I’ve been both flattered and outraged at the numerous instances of discovering that my original website content has been stolen and used on another Realtor’s website. It’s happened again tonight.
I discovered another local Austin Realtor who has copied word for word original content that I’ve written on this site. I’ve sent an email notifying the Broker/Owner of this and demanding that the stolen content be removed immediately. In most cases, the agent or company owner has no clue the content was stolen because the theft was performed by a designer hired by the agent to create a website.
I did once have a Property Manager argue with me that he in fact wrote the website and that I was mistaken. While we were on the phone I had him surf to his site and click on one of the “top” buttons on a FAQ page (which take a reader back to the top of the page). When he did so, the link took him to my website. His site also said “Crossland Real Estate” in the Title of the browser. He or his designer missed a few of the url changes for the “top” links and didn’t do a very good job of cleaning up the code. I was even still listed in the meta tags as the Author. He was left having to admit it was my code on his site and he took it down.
If you own a business website, how do you catch others stealing your original content?
First, check your web stats often for inbound links from other sites. This is how I discovered the above example, and others as well. I noticed website visitors linking in from a Real Estate website in South Carolina. I surfed to the site and found a virtual clone of my own.
Second, every now and then, take unique snippets of original content from your website and paste it into Google Search. You can do this with entire sentences. Just cut and paste into the search field. If there are other instances of that same wording on the web, Google Search will find it and you can follow the links and check it out.
When I discover a site with stolen content, I next go to the WayBack Machine and type in the url of the offending site. This will provide historical snapshots of the offending site and let you know when your content first appeared there. This is useful if the other site owner wants to argue and tries to say it’s been there “forever”.
What has been the most often stolen web content over the years? The Property Management FAQs which still appear at AustinLandlord.com (our old Property Management Company). I still manage that website for my friend Jim Wilson, who purchased the company from us in 2004 and now calls it Crosstown Properties. That FAQ page has been lifted and used more than a dozen times that I can remember – sometimes right down to the fees charged.
If you’d like to read more about this subject, I found a really good blog article by Lorelle VanFossen which goes into a lot of detail on the subject.
Happy New Year!! ( a couple of days late – we’re traveling through Alabama at present)