What To Do When Someone Copies Your Website

Blog, Small Business, Web Design

Until you have it happen to your business it might not even come across your mind. When it does it is shocking and jarring. Most businesses don’t know what to do when their website is copied.

Having another company copy part or even a large majority of your website, stealing imagery and branded copy for themselves is disheartening. It can create a lot of frustration.

It is even more bothersome if they are local to you by state or even city.

Why do people steal website copy and content?

The first questions I always have my clients ask themselves is why people typically copy anything. Because it is good. No one copies things that suck. Although that is a positive feeling to ponder that your content might be so good it is copy worthy, it still does not feel good and it is not professional. Just like all copycats, people copy typically because they think it is good. They say we should be flattered that someone is copying us, but it never feels like flattery. It just feels wrong. Remember most people typically are not copying you out of malice, it is often out of desperation, lack of imagination or they want to emulate you. Whether it is Tommy from math class or your business competitor, it can feel like a violation. You worked hard on your website, copy, and images and for someone to take them lacks professionalism or plain naivety. At this point with all the AI copy you can play with, who needs to copy other people’s website copy, images or content? They can use their brain and come up with original content or use ChatGPT, Jasper, and CopyAI. The options are endless.

What action steps can I take to get them to remove our content?

Sadly, if you are reading this article to answer these questions, it is a common occurrence. However, all businesses have to work through challenges and this is one of them. The bigger and the more important your business becomes, the more you will be faced with something like this that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The better you handle this and any challenge is what will help your business win and grow. So let’s step into what you can do right now to take control of your content.

1. Keep yourself level-headed.

Remember as we said above, most people that do this are not evil people – they have just made a bad choice to copy your content based on desperation in their market, they are having a hard time coming up with their copy or they just love what you do. You must still take action, but do it with a kind heart.

2. Document all the communications and findings.

Start with the date that you noticed the stolen content. Take videos and screenshots of the content and make sure you have it on record. Please also document all communication through every step of this so that if you need evidence you have it available – in case things escalate.

3. Contact the website owner directly.

Next, it is time to contact the website owner and try to talk to them. You could try looking for an email on their website and if you are unable to locate an email you could do a WHOIS search and see if the owner is public.

This is not always guaranteed. Often people will list fake email addresses or make their registration private to prevent public access. This might seem frustrating, but there are other things you can do if that does not work.

4. Try to connect with them on social platforms.

If neither works, then try to connect with them on LinkedIn, FB, IG, or other social media platforms through private messaging. Don’t publicly blast anyone, that is not professional and will look bad on your business. Contacting the owner works most of the time, but if it does not, move to the next steps.

We have also added a quick email template for you to use and send.

5. Contact the hosting service that is hosting the website.

Either you can find a way to contact the owner of the site or they don’t respond. In case of the latter, the next step would be to contact the website hosting company that hosts their website. You can also do this by looking up the domain on Sitechecker.

Companies like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and Green Geeks take these types of violations seriously and will send letters on your behalf and if the party is not compliant they will take down their website.

Understand that you will have to have proof to make this happen, so like we said above – please document everything.

6. Report the copyrighted content to search engines like Google and Bing.

One of the most challenging things about a website’s content being copied is not only a violation of copyright, but it also can hurt your SEO ranking. If more than one site has a lot of the same content it can affect both sites. It can hurt your business ranking which is nothing to take lightly.

For Google, you can submit a Google DMCA request. This is where you will put into detail your copyright claim. Make sure you add every bit of information that you can as well as the URL locations of all the stolen content.

Google does not respond as quickly as we like and can take days or at times weeks to get a response, but don’t give up.

7. Take legal action to gain control of your website’s content

Listen, no one wants to have to go this far but sometimes we have to. We rarely have seen anyone have to go this far in our industry. Typically contacting the site owner or hosting gets the job done pretty quickly. You could hire a lawyer to write a cease-and-desist letter to be sent directly to the owner or the hosting company itself. You could also go as far as filing a lawsuit.

Conclusion

It is our hope that if this happens to you or your company that it will be resolved quickly between parties. It is never easy to deal with unpleasant situations such as these. Again, remember most people are not trying to be malice or a jerk (some are) and it’s best that when we address situations like this we do it with grace, directness and find ways to work through it with as little negativity and drama as possible. We are all human, but we also have to protect ourselves and businesses.

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