Your Website Being Copied, Duplicate Content & Problems for SEO

Author Justin Smith
by Justin Smith

It's funny. The OuterBox website has been copied so many times, I can't even count anymore.

Why? Because we rank high in Google and people think if they copy our website, they will rank, too.

I'm sure if you're reading this you're intelligent enough to know it doesn't work that way, but does someone else copying your website hurt your SEO?

What is duplicate content?

Before we begin, if you're not sure what duplicate content is, it's content or text that's exactly (or for the most part) the same on multiple websites or multiple pages within a site. Google and the other search engines look down on this as you should be developing unique content that you've written yourself and also not be using the same content on multiple pages. Now we'll get into the post to figure out what happens when someone copies your website.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but I have to admit I'm not thrilled to find the OuterBox website has been copied… multiple times. From web design companies in other countries to whole pages of content, people have stolen our design, graphics and content in various forms. I couldn't even believe my eyes when I realized a company from across the globe stole our entire website. They used the exact design just by saving all of our graphics and code and then using Photoshop (or paint possible) to change the language on a few of the buttons. Either way, it was our site destroyed to match another language and help another company sell. As frustrating as this is due to the fact that someone stole our hard work, there may be other complications as well above and beyond being very annoying.


Original Content: An Example from Our eCommerce Services Page
Our original content that someone copied


Copied Content from CitrusBits (Shout Out!)
Copied website content

How do I find duplicate content?

Duplicate content can be an issue and it's very tough to spot other websites from copying what you've done. Using a duplicate content checker program we search text we've written to see if other website also have the same content on their page. Another easy way to do this (and free) is to go to Google and search for a line or paragraph of your text within quotes. Example: “This is the text you're checking to see if other sites stole”. The results will bring up any other pages that have this exact text in it. If other people stole your code it means Google may not realize that your content is unique and may not realize that you wrote it. We've found however that Google does try hard to figure out who the unique content belong to and they realize people do steal content. Our website for example has been hijacked many times but has not had a major impact at this point. It's still something we watch our for and we are proactive in always having duplicate content removed.

What to do if your website is copied?

Usually contacting the website that copied your content and asking them to remove the stolen content will result in them taking it off. Sometimes website in other counties are less responsive, but it's worth a shot. Another option is to contact the hosting company the website is on and file a complaint of a copyright violation. If done properly and they rule in your favor, they should shut the website down.

I usually send a message that says something along these lines:

"Hello, I see that you have copied our page (URL here) and have it on your website at (URL here). This is a copyright violation. If this content is not removed within 48 hours we will file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Please send me a response when this is removed."

Direct and to the point. I can tell you, using this tactic gets the content removed about 80% of the time. Usually with an apology.

I recommend on a somewhat regular basis going through and looking for other site that may have copied yours or specific content. The most important pages will be your main landing pages and the pages that rank the best in the search engines. You want to be sure that people have not copied these. Remember, as you grow people will try to copy you. Feel flattered, but also fight back! You wrote it and you deserve for it to only be on your website.

Will this copied content hurt by website and my SEO?

Chances are it will not, but I think it can devalue your content at times. Google does, or should, realize your wrote the content first. But in case there is a mix-up, I strongly suggest trying to get the content remove. Better safe than sorry.

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