SEO Tip: How to Benefit from Website Scrapers

by Scott Allen - January 25, 2008 
Filed Under Bad Bots, Link Building, SEO

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:

  1. Use absolute URLs in your links.
    Include the full path (http://www.yoursite.com/page.php) instead of relative URLs (/page.php).
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. 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>

     

  4. 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.
     
  5. 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.


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Comments

9 Responses to “SEO Tip: How to Benefit from Website Scrapers”

  1. JB on January 25th, 2008 11:37 am

    Very good information. It will be useful in the future.

    Definitely bookmarking this.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. THe IE Dude on January 25th, 2008 6:33 pm

    very good ideas that i’d never really thought of.. that will teach those dirty scrapers! although i just block most of them altogether with the BadBehaviour script..

  3. Yura on January 25th, 2008 9:22 pm

    If they scrape, but don’t link to your site, it is better to have them link to you instead of removing content (your content has more link-weight anyway), too.

  4. Lisa on January 26th, 2008 8:49 am

    Making your links absolute instead of relative is a great strategy.

  5. Li Evans on January 30th, 2008 8:47 pm

    Nice post Scott – I’ve always been of the mind, there is a way you can use scrapers to your advantage, this list definitely shows you can.

    ~Li

  6. Advent Creative on February 3rd, 2009 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the innovative way to combat scrapers. I really liked the idea of using an internal link in your own blog post. Great idea!

  7. Scott Allen on February 3rd, 2009 5:11 pm

    @Advent Creative: Thanks! The great part is that most scrapers are lazy, hence they are scraping your content instead of making their own. Another side benefit is that it helped us discover when a company had copied the entire code for one of our pages. People were clicking from their site to ours because we had put in the absolute links in our code. When we contacted them, it was quite embarrassing for them. :)

  8. Steve Yakoban on September 2nd, 2009 8:56 pm

    Clever post! Aside from the usefulness of the info you provided, there’s something satisfying about outsmarting the cheaters of the world!

  9. Matt Hayden on October 31st, 2009 4:04 am

    Thanks for these tips. I recently discovered that my blog was being scraped, so they will be useful to me.

    I did send the guy an e-mail, but of course that didn’t help. I think it will take a lot of effort to get his site taken down, too. And I don’t have the time for that. So I might as well use his site for my benefit with one or more of these techniques.

    Going through the experience has also given me some ideas for blog posts and articles, so posting them will be another way of getting back at the scumbag!

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