Brand Protection
4 mins

How to report duplicate websites to Google and protect your content

How to report duplicate websites to Google and protect your content
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Table of Contents:

    Over 1.4 million phishing websites are created every month. As the pandemic forced businesses and customers to move online, it only increased motivation for scammers to duplicate websites and now the number of phishing attacks has tripled since early 2020. 

    The goal of scammers when they duplicate websites can be to steal personal information, sell counterfeit products, install malware, or a multitude of other reasons. Whatever their motive might be, the fact is, content fraud and website duplication can have severe consequences on your business including loss of revenue, impact on business reputation, and negative SEO. 

    In this article, we discuss:

    • Why do people duplicate and steal your website content?
    • What are the negative effects of a duplicate website?
    • Steps to report duplicate websites to Google
    • How to prevent your website content from being copied?

    Why do people duplicate and steal your website content?

    Scam or duplicate websites are any fake websites on the internet that deceive people into fraud or malicious online attacks. Scammers are usually looking for a way to make quick profits. In some instances, they may be focused on attacking your brand reputation.

    Here are some ways scammers can go about creating fake websites:

    Phishing websites: Scammers pose as legitimate businesses to trick customers and get access to their private information.

    Counterfeit selling websites: Scammers duplicate genuine brand websites in order to sell low-quality fake products to unsuspecting customers. 

    Malware websites: These are websites with fake security pop-ups that bait users into downloading malware disguised as an antivirus program or any other genuine-looking software.

    The negative impact of having a duplicate website

    Brand identity

    Your brand identity is unique to your business and helps you stand apart from your competitors. But when duplicate websites start showing up online, customers will find it difficult to differentiate your brand easily. Instead of relating your unique brand identity to high-quality products, the customers may start associating it with scams and frauds.

    Loss of revenue

    Duplicate websites can eat away at your revenue by redirecting prospective customers from your website to their own phishing website. Every sale made on a duplicate website is a sale lost from your business.

    Moreover, when customers make purchases on a duplicate website and have a bad experience, they are very likely to not go back to the original website to make another purchase.

    Negative SEO impact

    Scammers lure internet users to these fake websites by using black hat SEO methods which can help them rank higher than even the original website in search engine results. All of this, in turn, can affect your website’s SEO performance. 

    Additionally, Google clearly states as part of its SEO guidelines to avoid duplicate content at all costs. So while your website may actually be the one with original content whoser content was duplicated, Google may end up penalizing both websites – the original and duplicate, for using the same content. 

    That is why it is important to report duplicate content to Google as soon as you find it in order to get the fake websites taken down and ensure it does not affect your website in any way.

    How to report duplicate websites to Google?

    You can fill out this copyright removal form to send a DMCA notice to the duplicate website owner and get it taken down. Here are the steps to fill up the form:

    1- Provide your name, contact information, and the name of your company.

    2- Mention if you are the sole copyright owner or reporting on behalf of the copyright owner (Make sure you are logged in from the right Google account since Google will use your contact details to reach you.)

    3- Now, you need to provide details of the infringed content and how it is duplicated from your website. 

    • Identify and describe the copyrighted work: Describe how your content has been infringed and duplicated as thoroughly as possible. You can also include snippets of the duplicated and original content here.
    • Share the location of the authorized example of work: Provide the URLs of your original content that has been duplicated. While you can provide the main website URL, you should also provide examples of specific web page URLs that have been copied directly. 
    • Location of infringing material: Now you need to add the URLs of the web pages that have copied your content. Again, while you can add the entire duplicate website here, you should also pull up some web page URLs that clearly show the extent of duplication. 

    3- In case there are multiple websites/URLs duplicating your content, you can click on the ‘Add a new group’ option to report multiple URLs through the same form.

    4- Checkmark the sworn statement, which confirms that you are the main copyright holder of the content and the duplicated content belongs to you. 

    5- Click ‘Submit’ and wait for an answer back from Google. It can take anywhere between 2-3 weeks for Google to provide an update.

    Please note that this will only get the duplicate website removed from Google Search. Google cannot shut down a website completely. In order to get the website taken offline, you will have to contact the hosting providers of the duplicate website.

    How to prevent your website content from being copied?

    Secure your website code: Encrypt your website code for an extra layer of protection. This prevents scammers from directly viewing your code or content by clicking on ‘view source.’

    Disable copy/paste: You can disable copy/paste on all your website pages to ensure scammers cannot just right-click on your content or images to directly copy them. Of course, this doesn’t mean it would become impossible for scammers to copy your website content, they can still use other ways. You can consider this as more of a proactive step that can weed out at least some of the scammers.

    Register your intellectual property: Registering for copyrights or trademarks for your business make it easy to send cease and desist letters or a DMCA notice to duplicate website owners. It can also help you take down duplicated websites faster when you report them to Google.

    Add a copyright notice to your website: Put up a copyright notice somewhere on the sidebar or the bottom of the webpage clearly mentioning that all the copyright of the website belongs to you. Any attempts to infringe the website content will result in strict legal actions.

    Monitor the web: Constantly monitor the web for any brand mentions and for any new URLs that may be duplicating your content. You can also use an automated domain takedown solution to remove infringed websites as soon as they go live. Red Points’ domain takedown solution scans the web for duplicate websites 24/7 and reports them right away to get them taken down before they can cause any permanent damage to your brand.

    What’s next

    Online content infringements and duplication can put your brand at risk, which is why you need to work quickly to protect your brand. Reporting duplicate websites to Google ensures you are proactively fighting against these threats.

    See how you can find and remove spoofing sites that take advantage of your brand with Red Points.

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