Splogs, Copyright Infringement, Sphinn Power and the Trademark Productions Smackdown
A “splog” is a spam blog which might scrape or otherwise rip off content from other blogs.
There are a myriad of motivations which drive unscrupulous publishers to steal content or create garbage posts: Organic prominence and AdSense revenue are classic spoils for plagiarizing. Gaining false credentials to dupe unsuspecting clients is another. No matter how many times it happens or what the reason, it sucks when your content is stolen.
Yesterday I happened to be searching out a post we published last month by querying Google, usually the most efficient method to find our own WordPress-published articles. To my awe I found a splog ranked above our original. (We always search with personalized search off and don’t allow Google to gather data on our meanderings.) I also checked on several other workstations, including a just initialized Blackberry…same results.
While our post is called “Think SEO Before Naming Your New Company, the rip off post was called “Think SEO Before Naming Your Startup” Even more disturbing, while much of the long post was pasted verbatim, a human had obviously added paragraphs and slightly modified out anchor text.
Apparently the reuse was just enough to fool Google. Barf, ick yuck…A human had spent time making this post just unique enough to get over.They pretty well butchered the thing. I briefly considered buying a bunch of porn links pointing at Trademark Productions anonymously. Then I logged into Sphinn, a social community for SEMs for a little smackdown payback.
Sphinn Mob Power
I was more upset then usual. As mentioned, we see this sort of thing every day and, sadly, have become desensitized to the violations. (The worst I’ve ever seen is “searchmarketingvox,” which rips off SearchEngineLand’s daily SearchCap every day.) Since this human modification splog rip off was terribly insidious, we thought a Trademark Productions Sphinn discussion was appropriate.
After laying the story out in a Sphinn discussion thread,” friends and other community members began to respond. I sent the splogger a link to Sphinn through by way of contact form.
Within 2 hours, the offending party had admitted guilt in big stupid pasted-from-Outlook fonts. Incredibly, this “Dean” guy (no last name and “Product Manager” at Trademark Productions) explained that he had “outsourced content during the busy season.” Jill Whalen let Dean know that she thought the mia culpa was a big bunch of SEO BS.
Search marketing notables like Streko, Rhea, Barry Welford, Jim Hedger and We Build Pages chimed in. Rhea even took the time (G_d bless her sweet SEO heart) to find other ripped off articles from clickz and Media Post on the offending blog.. I recommend the Sphinn thread as a light read over pomegranate cosmopolitans, for anyone concerned about intellectual property and social media..
I’m hopeful that the Sphinn thread will index prominently, so please consider helping out by highlighting this splog scurge-scum bag to your readers. Use the the anchor text “Trademark Productions” in a link to the discussion. We’re SEOs. We know what to do. (http://sphinn.com/story/83905)
Usually Not A Problem | Industry Answers
Most splogs are automated scrapers, making it easier for Search Engines to spot exact copy fakes. Also one would hope that YOUR special content garners good, authoritative and natural inbound links to lift it above the fray–even in light of scrapers. However, this type of human modified scrape lame sauce is dangerous to the intellectual property rights of many.
Google does a decent job when the rip offs are total duplicates. Michael Gray suggests methods to milk rip offs for link juice, which Streko discusses in the Sphinn post. WeBuildPages recommends that we put all our content through CopyScape, in order to better protect rights. It’s pretty easy to find splogged posts: Simply set up Google or TrackUr alerts for your name (posted by) and a key phrase in your post. You’ll be notified about the counterfeit by email or dashboard straight away.
We’re Not Gonna’ Take It
Because it takes tons of time to track this crap down, most of us are forced to let it go and accept being exploited.. Don’t be afraid to call a thief up, out, use their contact form or have your attorney send a nasty cease and desist letter. In the meantime, the Sphinn community righteously outed and flamed one predatory SEO jerkoff yesterday. Unfortunately, this battle is fought one splogger at a time in the trenches.