Every website owner hates getting their site’s content scraped and re-purposed. Besides being illegal, and violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it can often hurt rankings of younger websites. Why do these unethical webmasters do it? They create “made for AdSense” sites and they grab snippets of content from various sites to try to get search engine rankings, and then make money off your content.
You have a couple options for dealing with this problem. Option 1: Fight it by reporting them to Google, AdSense, their ISP, etc. You’ll quickly realize however that this wastes a lot of your time. You have to put a dollar amount on your time and think about the cost/benefit ratio, because you might actually lose money by following this path. Option 2: Think ahead, and set things up on your site to take advantage of these spammy scrapers and gain some SEO benefit. Here’s how.
Follow these practical tips, you can gain some extra SEO link juice from scrapers:
- Use absolute URLs in your links.
Include the full path (http://www.yoursite.com/page.php) instead of relative URLs (/page.php).
- Use internal linking strategically.
In the first couple paragraphs of your blog posts, try to find a place where it makes sense, and link to another page of your site using relevant anchor text similar to keywords you want to rank for.
- Make sure each blog post’s headline is a link.
In WordPress, make sure your blog theme turns the headline of the page into a link to that page. Many themes already do this, but not all. In your WordPress Admin, go to Presentation, then Theme Editor. Open your Single Post file, and look for
<h1><?php the_title(); ?></h1>
and replace it with
<h1><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>"
title="<?php the_title(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h1>
- Add copyright notice and a link to your site in the RSS feed.
You can use either Joost de Valk’s RSS Footer plugin or the Better Feed plugin to do this easily. This particular technique is great because most website scrapers just use your RSS feed and use some kind of auto-blog plugin. They don’t realize that when it posts the contents of the feed to their site, they will be giving you a link with keywords in the anchor text (depending on how well you wrote the post title), along with information saying the copyright for the content belongs to you and your site.
- Get some extra juice in Technorati.
Find out who is scraping your content, and ping Technorati with these to improve your authority and visibility.
Links from scraper sites don’t have as much value as legitimate sites, but search engines haven’t completely discounted them either. Using these tips alone probably won’t get you a #1 ranking, but it will allow you to take advantage of site scrapers, and get some extra juice in the search engines.