Freakin’ Google Rewarding Pirate Sites For Stealing My Content By Giving Them Higher Search Results

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Traffic Drop Graphic With Google Rewarding Scrapper and Content Mill SitesMost people go to Google when they are searching for something and most websites receive their organic traffic from Google searches. So you can imagine my frustration when I found out that for the last few weeks all my new and existing articles have been copied (scrapped) to so called content-mill websites. This means that when potential visitors search for topics covered in these original articles, they will first be shown the imposter or pirate sites because Google gives them a higher search result listing than my site.  I also loose these visitors to my site because most people only click on the top search results.

What’s worse is that my site and the source of the original content sometimes do not even show up in the search results at all. In essence Google has put me on its black list (Bing and Yahoo results seem to be unaffected). But what really makes the whole thing so depressing is that my site traffic and revenue has dropped considerably (over 50%) in just a few short weeks. Years of hard work, SEO efforts and writing original content have disappeared virtually in an instant.

I know Google implemented a new algorithm aimed at improving their search results and to specifically target content-mill type sites or those that just syndicate (often without permission) other sites content feeds, but little did I realize my lil ‘ol site would be caught up in this sweep. Unfortunately after doing extensive research on this topic it looks like a number of other innocent sites, like mine, were impacted in a similar fashion.

I am no SEO or technical expert, but after hours of research I still cannot really find a definitive solution (perhaps Google has black listed the site with a solution!). I have tried various options to rectify this situation like contacting the offending sites that have stolen my content. But in a number of cases there is no contact information, their comment/contact forms are bogus and are unlikely to respond anyway. Most of these pirate or scraper sites, run via large development centers in India or China, copy content and place it on their site and use SEO to make the articles appear original and fooling Google (through extensive back linking strategies) to think they are the original source. With armies of people behind them, I cannot hope to keep up with their black-hat SEO techniques.

Other things I have tried are to do are submit tickets for site reconsideration via Google’s webmaster tools and I have also raised a DMCA ticket against the offending sites. I have also shortened my RSS feed content (not something I wanted to do) to try and prevent blatant feed copying. No luck so far though. If you are reading this and have any ideas, please leave a comment below. Any help is appreciated.

For now I am going to keep trying other channels and solutions to build back my “google-cred.” Hopefully Google is working on its search algorithm to ensure that the “good” sites are restored, but it may take a while before things return to normal. The one key lesson from all this is that I need to stop relying so much on Google (my largest supplier of visitors by far) to bring traffic to my site.

I’ll keep updating this post with any new information and if you are interested in following my journey to resolve this issue at www.savingtoinvest.com, please subscribe via Email or RSS, since it is likely that this article will be stolen, copied of scrapped shortly after it is published and won’t come up in search results!

In the meantime, have a look at some of these high quality and original personal finance articles I came across this week:

I would also like to draw your attention to the first ever personal finance blogger conference being organized by PT Money in October. It is in Chicago and if you write about or are just interested in money related topics then this is an event you must attend. You can find out more details here. I’ve got my ticket and hope to see and many other money bloggers out there.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy June 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm

For a great overview of panda and how to update your site to deal with the new form of SEO see this video which explains it all very nicely

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-googles-panda-update-changed-seo-best-practices-forever-whiteboard-friday

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Velina April 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

Sorry to hear about the “industrial theft” of your intellectual property. If this was physical property, I believe Google could be charged with “aiding and abetting”. Shouldn’t same apply to theft of intellectual property on the Internet?

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Michelle April 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

So sorry to hear about this! Please know that you have many followers who go directly to your site and find valuable information all the time! Keep it coming– it’s appreciated!

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Pat April 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

Actually, I think it is intentional that your (and other commercial blogs) traffic is down. Google’s new Panda or Farmer algorithim is actually looking at content much more, including depth and authority of content. So posts where there is little coverage get ranked down. the new SEO rules required that raher than getting as many URLs as you can indexed, you now want only your highest-quality, most important URLs indexed. Consistent signals should be sent as to which pages are most important:

1.Decide which URLs are canonical and create strong signals (rel canonical, robot exclusion, internal link profile, XML sitemaps)

2.Decide which URLs are your most valuable and ensure they are indexed and well optimized

3.Remove any extraneous, overhead, duplicate, low value and unnecessary URLs from the index. If your properties have low-quality or significantly duplicative content, it is best to remove those URLs from the indexes. Even a site with some high-quality content and lots of thin or low-quality content could see traffic deterioration because of Panda.

4.Build internal links to canonical, high-value URLs from authority pages (strong mozRank, unique referring domains, total links, are example metrics)

5.Build high-quality external links via social media efforts

The new SEO, at least as far as Panda is concerned, is about pushing your best quality stuff and the complete removal of low-quality or overhead pages from the indexes. Which means it’s not as easy anymore to compete by simply producing pages at scale, unless they’re created with quality in mind. Which means for some sites, SEO just got a whole lot harder.

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Alex April 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm

You seem to think your “original” material is so hot. Well, my friend, you are either naive or suffer from ultra-egotism. Comparable information and so-called ‘advice’ may be found daily on the Web, from various financial bloggers — and often months ahead of your “original” material. So take it as a compliment of sorts, that pirates are raiding your cave.

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andys2i April 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Alex – I am not saying my topics are original or ground-breaking. Most Pf topics have been explored and written on before. But the articles I write are 100% original or reference the original source in an authorized fashion. I do not steal or copy content. I don’t pretend to be the best blogger or writer out there – there are many better – but I have helped a number of people (100′s of emails and comments to prove this) so I do think that this site adds value. While I don’t mind my content being referenced or copied (like you said, it is a compliment) I really don’t like Google rewarding sites that steal my content without permission.

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Pinyo April 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Andy, I am also observing a lot of scraper sites outranking my newer articles. This is definitely a fraustrating experience.

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andys2i April 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Yep. Also thanks a lot for helping with resolving the RSS Title issue. Hopefully this can help with those site aggregation sites that copy content via my feed.

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Mike Curtis April 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I run a site based on providing reliable information, and keeping up on blogs, and social media posts is extremely time consuming. I can appreciate your frustration if your content is being siphoned off by other sites. I am surprised to hear the search engine difficulty; has Google not responded? They seem to be pretty legit in what they are trying to do, and I hope this has not changed. Good luck, and keep up posted. On an unrelated note, maybe one of your upcoming articles could focus on high potential mutual funds for use with roth IRAs? Thanks!

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Peter April 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Andy, I feel your frustration. I’m the exact same boat – as are quite a few other PF bloggers. My traffic instantly dropped 50% overnight. Others I know who were doing very well dropped even more than I have.

I think the most frustrating part of all of this is the not knowing – not knowing why google now sees our sites as low quality and not worthy of the rankings. When you find sites that are stealing your content ranking higher than you, that makes it even worse.

I’ve been doing some of the things you mentioned as well, but it’s hard to know what – if any – effect it will have in the long run. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, right?

It’d be nice if there were some other search engines out there that were more competitive, that we could rely on more, but unfortunately google is still the big dog, and in some respects, we don’t have much other choice for getting traffic..

Oh well – I guess we can commiserate with each other at the financial blogger conference. Look forward to meeting you there!

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andys2i April 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Wow, looks like you just got hit pretty bad as well. I agree – the most frustrating thing is not having any control or clear course of action to resolve this issue. And then these dodgy sites, are rewarded by Google. Something not right there!

Most of the sites are just stealing the content from my RSS feeds and I was able to find them via searching on the exact title of my post and through copyscape. I have tried to shorten my RSS feed and added a RSS footer plug-in to have a link to the original source). No change so far though. I am actually toying with the idea of suspending my RSS feed, but holding off on that.

This would be a good round-table for the pf blogger conference like you said!

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Barbara April 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Can’t you hire a lawyer and/or request their service provide to shut these sites down. This is the problem with the internet, no copyright control. Everything is up for grabs. The internet used to be great for the little guys, but it is becoming harder to navigate with all these shady groups and organization (mostly foriegn) taking over the web. Like you said, the small guy can no longer compete. Good luck with getting the search issues resolved. I have been a subscriber to this site for 2 years and have always enjoyed your content.

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Noah April 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Unfortunately it would probably be difficult for a lawyer to do anything because the culprits are operating out US jurisdiction. The best thing is probably to continue to put out good content and hope that your user base grows.

It is amazing how much Google can affect a website’s traffic, both good and bad. It’s almost scary to think that if for some reason google disappeared or was replaced by something else, ad revenue for thousands of bloggers would be drastically cut.

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