Catherine "Cat" Seda

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is Someone Stealing Your Web Articles?

Are you writing articles and submitting them to web sites and blogs? If not, you should. This is a free way for you to share helpful information. Plus, by getting a link from your article to your web site, shoppers and search engine spiders will be directed to your business.

Oftentimes, one article you write can appear dozens of times on the web—without any work on your part! That’s because some site and blog owners will take your content to build up their own. In some cases, this is harmless publicity. In other cases, you need to protect your content from being misused to promote someone else’s business. Here's this month's Q&A from my e-zine which you can sign up for at http://www.CatherineSeda.com

QUESTION:

Article marketing is one component of my marketing mix, and I try to keep a close eye on where my articles are picked up. Recently, I happened upon an Internet site that has me listed as a contributing author and features a photograph that isn’t me. They also have it set up to appear that visitors can e-mail me directly through this site, which is not the case. I'm wondering if there are any Internet regulations and guidelines that regulate this kind of activity?

~ Lisa Manyon, http://www.writeoncreative.com/

CAT’S ANSWER:

Hey Lisa, I checked out that site. (I won’t share the URL because of what I’m about to say…)

Yup, it seems they’re harvesting content from the web. Several site and blog owners do this. Instead of creating unique content, they scrape the web taking what’s already out there. That’s because a content-rich site can get top search engine rankings, which of course, drives people to that site filled with articles…and ads! You could consider this free publicity. However—

Obviously, the fact that it’s not your photo is a problem. Also, I noticed the other “authors” have articles published on that site; you only got a bio. You *could* e-mail your photo and an article.

But wait…

It bothers me, too, that the links don’t go to you. That site is using your name to trick visitors into e-mailing them, or linking to another page in their site. Not cool. Plus, when I clicked one of their ads, I went to an advertising site and couldn’t go back using the “Back” button. Gross. In this case, you may want to consider these options:

E-mail the site owner, nicely asking him remove your info from his site.

If that doesn’t work, check out Wikipedia’s article on the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA). You may find the section on “Example of DMCA Takedown Provision” helpful in crafting a copyright infringement letter.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer so this is not legal advice. Wikipedia is not a legal resource, it’s a free encyclopedia written by volunteers around the world. I’m just saying there’s some insightful info here.

If the site owner still ignores you, and this peeves you, hire a lawyer to write a “cease & desist” letter.

Sign-up for Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) and Yahoo! Alerts (http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/alerts/) to stay on top of sites that use your personal name, company name, and product or service names (this is a handy tool for monitoring your competitors, too). Sounds like you’re doing this—good job!

In general, I don’t recommend using free article sites. It’s much more effective to contact niche sites that are relevant to your business and already have high search engine rankings for the keywords you want. If your article is published, you should get a link from your article to your site.

[NOTE: Give other sites (or blogs) articles you use for special promotions or in your newsletter. DO NOT send articles posted on your web site (or blog) because the search engine spiders don’t like duplicate content--your original content should help YOUR business, not someone else’s!]

Yes, this takes time. But it’s effective. A link from a high-ranking, niche site to yours is a quality link. This is good search engine optimization. It’s also good for generating new business.

What’s your #1 Internet marketing question? Send your name, URL and question to my assistant at info[at]catherineseda.com -- your question and business may be featured in my newsletter next.

To Your Online Success!

2 Comments:

  • Cat,

    Thanks for the in-depth answer. I thought something was off and you've given me some great points to consider regarding my article marketing efforts.

    As always, your advice is timely and applicable. I plan to share this on my blog, too.

    Lisa Manyon

    By Blogger Lisa, at 4:23 PM  

  • Go with your gut. If something says "this ain't right," it probably isn't.

    You're welcome, Lisa. Thanks for your question.

    By Blogger Cat Seda, at 4:38 PM  

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