With the Google Panda algorithm penalizing sites that have content duplicated across the web, it’s increasingly important that all of the content on your site is unique. Unfortunately, it’s possible that another site can steal your content and sometimes can even trick Panda into thinking they’re the original creators of the content. This means that your site can get penalized for duplicate content, even though it’s all content that you wrote yourself.
It’s worth noting that this doesn’t happen that often — Google is getting better and better about identifying the original source — but it does happen and it’s always a good idea to snipe down sites that are stealing your content.
Happily, you can ask Google to deindex any page that is stealing your content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
How to Request Duplicate Content Removal from Google
You can file a DMCA request with Google to remove pages that are stealing your content. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remove the entire site from their index, but I’ve found that when it’s a scraper site Google is pretty good about recognizing it and deindexing it entirely.
But the important thing is just to remove the duplicate content, and Google is pretty good about acting on DMCA requests. In fact, every one I’ve filed has been acted on within a week. Here’s what to do:
Go to the Google Copyright Removal page — you’ll need to be logged into Google. Fill in the necessary information, which includes an excerpt of the duplicated content, the page that your original content appears on, and the page where the stolen content appears. You then have to swear that you’re telling the truth — this is a legal statement.
Step 2 is just to wait. You’ll probably get an automated response from Google when you fill in the form, but they will not contact you to tell you what they did about your request — whether they removed the infringing content or not. So just keep an eye on the search engine rankings for that content and you’ll notice when it suddenly vanishes.
When to Request Removal, and When Not To
It’s worth taking a moment to talk about when to request removal of people stealing your content, and when not to. In general any time I find a site that is stealing content from a site and is indexed and ranking in Google for that content (even if they’re ranking badly) then I fill out the request. You want to verify that the content is ranking (just do a search for a couple sentences) because it’s possible Google has already identified it as scraped content.
The other thing to be aware of is that if the site is just quoting a paragraph or two in the context of a page-long article, that is not infringing on your copyright. What you are looking for is pages in which the text content of a page on another site is entirely or mostly stolen content. For some ecommerce type sites that could mean it’s just one paragraph (short product descriptions) and for blogs it’s not uncommon to find a scraper site literally copying every single post you make word for word.
You do not want to play games with the DMCA removal request. You’ll get good and quick results as long as you are reporting clear and egregious infringements. Once you get into gray areas you’re better of letting it lie — those gray areas are unlikely to hit you with a duplicate content penalty anyway.