Copywriting and landing page optimization are an investment. You put in the effort and the time, and you get a reward. People known as “vultures” try to steal this reward by copying your landing pages and copy. We know this is true because, hey, it happens to us!
Competitors have stolen our services page, our homepage, and we assume other pages as well. Had they read our blog, they would know that stealing a competitor’s landing page is insane. They’re probably not big on reading, though (one even forgot to change the phone number from our homepage. Need we say more?).
We’re always looking for the positive in life. Instead of publicly shaming these companies as vultures, we will consider their scavenging a form of flattery. Today, we turn their theft into our opportunity to show you how to prevent competitors from stealing your landing pages and what to do about it when it happens.
Scare the vultures away
People will grab your content for all types of reasons. Some will scrape your blog to help their site’s SEO. Others are just lazy. They would rather eat your leftovers than write and test their own landing pages.
The truth is you cannot completely prevent vultures from attacking. Instead, you can make it so inconvenient to steal your content that they will look for weaker animals to target. Three tools to help do that:
2) “Read more” link –coding tricks and WordPress plugins will allow you to add a line of text and a URL to all text copied from your website. MarketingProfs uses this feature. Any text copied and pasted from the site includes the phrase “read more” and a URL to the referenced page.
While this doesn’t make it much harder to steal your content, it potentially gives you an additional backlink from the thief’s site, which makes your site a less-appealing target.
3) Watermark images – if you’re worried about your images being stolen, you can watermark them with your URL and brand name. There are free online tools that can do this easily.
Watch like a hawk
The most common way to fight content scrapers and vultures is to stay vigilant. You can do this by periodically checking a search engine for the headlines and titles of your landing pages – but that would waste a ton of time.
Here are three ways to make monitoring easier:
1) Internal links – if you put internal links on every page of your site, then anyone who steals your copy without editing it will create backlinks to you. All you have to do is monitor your backlinks in tools like WordPress and Google Webmaster Tools. When someone publishes one of your links, you’ll know immediately.
2) Google alerts – Google’s handy alerts tool has been around for a long time and still works as good as new. The service will send you an alert anytime a given word or phrase is published online and indexed by Google. Here’s what to do:
- Find a unique line of text on every important landing page of your site. Here’s one from ours:
“Our team brings together a group of wildly successful and passionate group of online marketers”
- Put the line of text into quotation marks and enter it into the “search query” box on the Google Alerts page. The quotation marks will signal that you only want to receive updates when Google discovers an exact match of this text.
- Select to have the alerts delivered to your email address or a custom RSS feed
Now Google will send you an alert anytime that line of text is published (assuming that the offender’s page is indexed by the search engine).
3) Copyscape – this tool will analyze your page and search for duplicates on the web. You can try the free version at the link provided above, and there are premium features as well. If you have less than a dozen webpages on your site, then checking them in this tool periodically will help you stay on top of copycats. Other tools, such as those at DCMA.com, can fight to protect your content and help get duplicate content removed.
One day you will likely discover that someone has plucked your content. There are several tactics you can use to persuade the vultures to release your copy from their talons.
However, always remember:
- You must be firm, polite, and professional. As enraging as the situation may be, berating a vulture through the web doesn’t solve anything. They like it.
- Don’t get your hopes up. The odds are 50-50 at best that you will convince the site’s owner or host to remove the content. You may want to consider if the effort is worth your time.
With caveats out of the way, here’s what you can do:
1) Find contact info – look for the site’s contact information. It may not be available if the site is designed to reap ad revenue or affiliate commissions. But if the site’s a genuine competitor, then you should be able to get in touch with them as easily as a customer.
We are not lawyers, so how you go about persuading these people is your call. You can learn more about sending cease-and-desist letters under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) and even get a template at the link above.
2) Look them up – you can use one of many free WHOIS tools to see the owner of the domain and his or her contact information. Simply enter the URL and you will find information on the owner of the domain and the domain’s registrar (such as HostGator, for example). Reach out to every person and company on this list, explain the situation, and say you want the content removed.
3) Report them – if attempts to contact the publisher are ineffectual or impossible, it’s time to turn up the heat. You can file complaints under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with any ad networks that run on the site. You may also be able to have a lawyer send ominous letters if you’re within your rights under copyright law.
And don’t forget to ask the search engine to bury their site forever:
4) Shame them publicly – if you’re really mad, you can denounce the owners of the site and tell your story in the big social networks and forums in your industry. You can also call them out on your blog and social outlets, and write about them on sites like Ripoff Report.
Or you could do nothing…
Let’s face it; the odds of successfully convincing a vulture to apologize and remove your landing pages are slim. The odds of doing it successfully in a short amount of time are exactly zilch. At some point, you have to ask yourself, is it worth the headache?
That’s the route we’ve chosen. People have stolen our landing pages and home page copy, but so what? Our copy is great. Our copy is tested. We have skills, passion, and dedication. We will continue to create great landing pages and tailor them to our audience. We will charge ahead and let the vultures fight over the scraps we leave behind.
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7 thoughts on “How to Stop Vultures from Stealing Your Landing Pages”
Instead of worrying about who will copy you and wasting time protecting your landing page, time would be better spend creating new landing pages, testing new copy and building new campaigns. A copycat will always be behind the curve. However if this is something you can automate that is fine, I just keep seeing more and more people spending time on protecting their landing pages instead of focusing on what makes you money.
Great point – that’s why you always need to be continually testing and optimizing!
I’ve used DMCA.com with quite a bit of success. They do charge $200 per removal request, but it has worked out quite well — even getting one site entirely shut down for me. You just have to weigh if that price will be worth it.
I like the combination of a Read More link for text that has been copied and blocking of right clicking on images.
I think the only reason anyone right clicks an image is to steal it. Here are some scripts to block right clicking on images only: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4753695/disabling-right-click-on-images-using-jquery
The text is easy to monitor with Google Alerts, but someone might steal your images and you’ll never know. Not that blocking right click prevents all theft, but if you’re in a niche with less sophisticated competition it might be enough.
I agree with Mobstar though. The best thing you can really do is to constantly be innovating and improving. But it’s a great pick me up if you can TKO a thieving competitor with a DMCA take down.:)
Does anyone have advice on how to stop competitors and lead generation sites from using your brand in paid search? My brand is trademarked. Thanks!
I don’t think you can get them to completely stop using your trademark in the keywords, but in the ad itself you usually can. You can notify your ad company (such as google), and let them know that someone is infringing on your copyright/trademark. Here’s google’s policy on this: https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=6118
Hopefully that helps a bit.
You really have to be careful about this when you list on Flippa