Has your site been hit by one of Google’s updates? Perhaps your site was hit for duplicate content issues. If your site has lost rankings and you cannot figure out why, do a quick check on Copyscape and see if there is duplicate content on the web.
If you find duplicate content on the web through Copyscape, there is a good chance that your site is being penalized to some extent by Google. Even if you wrote the content, own the content and have had it online longer than other sites who may have scraped it and posted it on their pages it can still harm you. So what is the solution?
There are a few solutions. The first solution is to contact the offending site. Go to the site and find contact information. It is not uncommon for a business owner to pay for a website to be created and designed and for the designer to go scrape content from similar sources on the web to populate that site or page. If this is the case, a pleasant phone call or email may solve your problem.
If your pleasant phone call or email does not solve the problem, you can then follow up and let the offending party know that if they do not remove your content (which they should want to remove and change as it is harming both their rankings and yours) that you will have to file a DCMA complaint. Often times this will do the trick and the offending party will remove your content.
That is all well and good if the site has contact information posted, but what if the site is simply a scraper site and has no contact information? Check out Whois to find out who owns the site. Often times you can find contact information there. If not, you can also often times find out who is hosting the content. If you are not able to resolve the issue with the owner of the site or cannot reach them, you can contact the hosting provider.
Many hosting providers have forms that must be completed, but if the content is yours and you take the 15 minutes to complete the forms you can file a complaint with the hosting provider and they may shut the site down until changes have been made.
So what if you cannot find the owner’s contact information, cannot find the hosting providers information and/or cannot get resolution from either party? You can file a DCMA complaint directly with Google at that point in time. Google does act on these and if your goal is to improve your Google rankings, this is the next best thing to getting the duplicate content removed completely from the internet.
As an added bonus, sites that get many of these complaints filed against them may incur a penalty, the Google Pirate Penalty. This means that sites that make a living scraping content from others eventually will see their rankings fall as the complaints come in.
So if your site has lost rankings and you can’t figure out why, check out the duplicate content issue. It is a real issue, and can cause your site real harm if not addressed!