The last thing a web designer, developer, or web administrator wants to see is that their content has been stolen and posted on another site. Not only is this plagiarist scheme detrimental to your earnings and the value of your content, it can sometimes confuse consumers, and even web crawlers, as to who originally created the content, possibly harming your spot in search engine rankings. Luckily, there are several ways to stay on top of your intellectual property and prevent content and design theft altogether. Follow these expert security tips to make sure you content and designs aren’t stolen or copied by other websites.

Copyright Your Content

When you post content online, including designs, articles, and other intellectual property, you are often covered by copyright and intellectual property laws, depending on your jurisdiction.

In order to be sure your content is protected from a legal standpoint you may want to add an additional set of terms in your terms and conditions or policies page to describe how visitors may use the information they find on your site. You can get some solid templates for these pages from legal notice generator sites like Terms and Conditions Sample or premium, business-tailored legal notices from companies like LegalZoom.

How to Monitor Content Theft

When you’ve posted your content online, even with a legal disclaimer stating that users don’t have a right to copy it and paste it on other sites, you may still be surprised to find it’s been copied. That’s because many nefarious or oblivious websites owners, bots, and scripts try to find their content from existing sites without permission or an offer of attribution.

Whether the content and design theft was done knowingly and intentionally doesn’t matter, as it can harm your business and confuse potential clients either way. This is why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your content and monitor the web for content theft. The best way to do this is the setup a series of Google Alerts with exact phrases, images, and designs used on your website. Setting up Google Alerts is easy and will result in an email notification anytime your selected content shows up on the web.

Content Theft Detection Software

Aside from setting up Google Alerts, there are several other online tools and resources you can use to find out if your content has been stolen. One of the most popular anti-plagiarism tools used by web admins is CopyScape. Registered users of CopyScape can login and run any length of text through a copy-paste submission field and check for copies of it on the web. It’s a good idea to run your articles and other text content through this online utility at least once a month to make sure no new websites are posting your verbatim content online.

If you have WordPress hosting then you’re content theft detection task has been made easy. The WordPress tool Trackbacks allows you to see who has linked to your content. In order to use this tool to detect content theft simply link back to your own content within your articles. If the article is later stolen by a scraper-site, or plagiarist, it will notify you that the links have been shared.

Another online resource for website owners who want to prevent design and content theft is the use of RSS feeds. By making sure your posts are contained in an RSS feed on your website, it will be easy to bots and other content generators who crawl the web for copied content to give you credit and link to your work. Simply add an RSS feed to your site to let other sites properly attribute their links to your content. WordPress hosting users can accomplish this with the YoastSEO plugin.

Encrypting and Protecting your Online Content

One way to protect your content from being copied or stolen by other websites is to restrict access to the content and its source code. You can do this by loading your scripts and codes on the backend of your website with JavaScript or PHP, or by simply encrypting the coding altogether using an HTML Encrypter. Consider using passwords, logins, and paywalls to protect your paid and premium content and designs, and don’t forget to de-list any premium content that you don’t want to appear free in search engines with an edit to your robots.txt file.

By setting up monitoring software or services like Google Alerts you can ensure you’ll be notified when anyone tries to steal or copy your content and designs. With online tools like CopyScape and WordPress Trackbacks you can keep an even closer eye on your hard word. To take it a step further setup paywalls, password-protected user accounts, and other security measures including robots.txt files to protect your private content from public website scrapers. These measures, along with other online website security resources like DMCA notices can keep your designs, content, and website secure and private.