How to deal with other stores stealing your content and SEO

A JSON-LD for SEO customer Tom wrote in:

To cut a long story short I’ve started to notice quite a few images (in google image search) that are definitely taken from my site, but link to other (spam) sites.

My concern is that on some of the examples the title tag is very similar to mine and I don’t want these sites to actually be competing with me (the genuine site) or, worse still, for me to eventually be penalised by google when I’ve done nothing wrong.

  1. Is there any (easy) way to prevent it?
  2. In your opinion, will this hamper my own SEO efforts in any way?

That is scraping and there’s not a really good way to counter it. But at the same time, it probably won’t impact your SEO.

Most of the time Google will recognize those sites and penalize, de-rank, or just ignore them. This is what Google talks about when they talk about webspam.

In theory you can send sites and their hosting company complaints (called DMCA takedowns). That’s a legal process to force them offline but it’s a pain and usually not worth it for copying content. Many times these sites will just close up and start with a fresh domain/host.

If you were selling a book that someone posted online, then a DMCA takedown might be worthwhile. Otherwise, it’s just like playing a digital version of whack-a-mole.

Years ago I used to used a service that would try to detect people copying your content. It didn’t correct the problem but would just notify me of it so in the end it wasn’t really worth it.

What I’d recommend you actually do:

  1. Focus on doing the good SEO stuff and Google will see you as an authority and the originator of the content. That will boost your site way above any copies.

My Shopify SEO guide highlights the important parts.

  1. Watermark your images if it doesn’t detract from them too much.

Watermarks don’t look good on some stores, especially if you’re trying to have a premium brand but they can be a deterrent.

  1. Make sure you can canonical tags setup on your store. In your HTML it’s the: link rel="canonical" href="[a url on your domain]".

Shopify and your theme are probably already doing this for you but sometimes theme updates or sketchy SEO apps screw these up.

Beyond that, it’s best to just ignore the scrappers and focus on improving your business.

One SEO feature that actually works well is structured data.

Mostly because Google wants everyone to set it up so their jobs are easier.

You can either audit, code, and test your store’s structured data by hand or install JSON-LD for SEO and have all the structured data you need.

It’s already helping a few thousand Shopify stores with their structured data and it could help you too.

Eric Davis

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