How to Prevent Copying of Website Content

Content theft is a common issue. Anyone can copy your content and use it in any form without crediting you. As a content writer, content marketer, and digital marketer, you must know how to prevent copying of website content. When left unchecked, you might end up losing ownership of the content you own.

Copying content from other websites is pretty common these days. When your content is copied and used by others, it impacts your brand image, SEO, and credibility.

How to deal with it?

Let’s find out…

Why Do People Copy Website Content?

There are several reasons why people copy website content. These include:

  • Get content free of cost
  • Using someone else’s content as a lead magnet
  • Translating your content in another language and using it as original content
  • Ignorance as some webmasters don’t know if copying someone else’s content isn’t the right thing to do.

Copying someone else’s content and using it anywhere else on the internet isn’t a crime. You can do it. However, not crediting the author or website is a crime. If you are getting a link or unlinked mention for your content, that’s absolutely fine.

For example, someone else might copy content from your website and use it as a quote with proper attribution. In this case, you are getting a free natural backlink. Not bad.

Here is an example:

inbound marketing quotes

This is a healthy sign because you are getting due credit for your content.

Things get messy when your content is used without any link or mention. In this case, your content is represented and used as original content on another website. The readers consider content the property of the website where it is published.

How It Impacts Your Website

The problem with copied content is that it negatively impacts your website ranking in SERPs.

Here is how.

Google doesn’t penalize websites for using copied content. It is absolutely OK. Read more about it here and here. However, when a single piece of content appears on more than one website (on different domains), Google will index and rank only the most relevant content and website to its users. And you can’t control what content Google shows to its users.

This means Google might show copied content and might never show your content for relevant search queries. You might lose rankings and traffic. And this means once your content is copied, you might not rank for it ever.

Here is an example of the same story appearing on different leading news websites:

content copying example

Here are the sites ranking for one of the primary keywords for this article:

content copying example from Google

You can see all the top three results have copied content from another source and they’re outranking the website where it is originally published.

However, this is a common practice in the news industry and content syndication is pretty common. But it does hurt your brand a lot when your content is being copied without your permission.

You’ll lose your content and traffic forever.

How to Prevent Copying of Website Content

Copying someone else’s website content is common. The question is: How to prevent it so that you get the most output from content you have created?

There are several preventive measures you can take including:

  1. Add a copyright notice
  2. Disable right-click
  3. Watermark images.

Let’s cover these techniques in detail:

1. Add a Copyright Notice

Copyright notice is the first thing you need to do to prevent copying of website content. A copyright notice clearly states the terms and conditions of copying, using, and citing your content.

Here is an example of the copyright notice:

Wordpress copyright template

You need to add a copyright notice on your website at a place where it is visible all the time such as in the footer or sidebar. This will prevent people from copying website content unintentionally.

A clear and visible copyright notice on your website will stop a lot of people from copying and using your content without your permission.

2. Disable Right Click

This is one of the easiest ways to prevent copying of website content. When you disable right-click on your website, people won’t be able to right-click and select and copy content.

Easy, right?

But it has a problem.

It ruins the user experience. You’ll create problems for genuine visitors and people who want to use your content with a citation or with your permission. A lot of people copy a short sentence and share it on social platforms, they won’t be able to do it anymore.

So, you need to disable right-click with caution after considering its pros and cons.

You can disable right-click manually via JavaScript as mentioned here. Or you can use this WordPress plugin if you need a quick solution.

3. Watermark Images

If you don’t want others to copy and use images, photos, graphics, and other media, the best way is to use watermarking.

When you add a watermark on an image, it can still be copied and reused but it will still have the watermark. Nobody else can use it as their own work.

You can add any text as a watermark such as your brand name, URL, logo, etc. Here is an example:

watermark image example

Nobody likes copying images with watermarks.

Again, using watermarks on images has a negative impact on UX. Switching to subtle watermarking is a better option where a watermark doesn’t annoy viewers. Here is an example:

watermark example

The watermark is still there but it isn’t intrusive. It looks professional and user-friendly. Here is how to watermark images professionally without ruining UX:

How To Watermark Photos in Lightroom and Photoshop

Seems professional, right?

The idea is to avoid content theft without ruining UX.

Keep an Eye on Copied Content

You can’t stop copying of your website content completely. Even if you use these three techniques, there are fair chances that your content might still get copied without your permission.

Using a tool like Copyscape can help you find and identify copied content. You can report it to Google with complete details and it will be removed from SERPs. Once all the other copies of your content are removed, Google will start showing your website in SERPs.

Featured Image: Pexels

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