Featured Internet Marketing

Use Google to Find Copycats

People will copy your web site. Why? I don’t know. Laziness, stupidity, whatever.
You can check occasionally by doing a quick search on Google:

  1. Copy a sentence from your web site. Something that won’t show up on many other sites.
  2. Go to Google.com
  3. Paste the sentence, with quotes around it, into the search box.
  4. Click ‘Google Search’

If you see other sites that say the same thing, have a quick look. I did this for my own company site today, and lo and behold:
Some pimply-faced Eastern European teenager decided to copy my site between porn viewing sessions. Here’s their portfolio page. Quick hint to plagiarists out there: Edit the damned copy before you post a duplicate of someone’s site.
Bears a shocking resemblance to our own:
So, CMDesign, do me a favor: Take down your ripoff of my site. Otherwise I’m going to fly over there and stuff you, head first, into the worst toilet I can find in Hungary. Which, if you guys are anything like Americans, is probably pretty bad.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. HaHa, I do this all the time. Great way to find out who is stealing content. Next step is getting them to take it down. That part is not as easy. 🙂

  2. Ian, like I mentioned on Twitter, it’s almost a compliment…and a kick to the …aghmmmn…groin all wrapped up in one neat little package.
    If you do search for Online Plagiarism Detection there are a variety of tools available for tracking if people are using your site in various ways. There may even be a unique embed available to track your site within your site code…I don’t know of one off hand…that sure would be good though.
    Likewise using unique phrases from your site in Google alerts would be a good way to automatically monitor if people are stealing from you. (make sure to surround them in quotes too)

  3. What Matt said 🙂 Holy Crap!
    We recently did the same thing and found that a proprietary site that we had written for a customer had been lifted complete (even the branding) and was being used by some web developer as a “sample customer”
    It was taken down without much of a battle

  4. May I ask, Ian, how it is that we are expected to believe that you did not simply rip off your design from some poor, pimple-faced Eastern European kid who only wanted to garner some freelance clients and sign up for better porn sites?
    I found, much to my chagrin, that nobody saw fit to copy any of my own sites. Perhaps I’m not doing a good enough job for people to steal my work.

  5. I’d be like:
    “What? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you copied that whole… website? How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing.”

  6. Maybe you could send polite emails to his clients and educate them about the kind of “designer” they are using, and the potential risks to them if he’s used his snatch-and-grab approach on their sites…

  7. We have these issues also. When you find someone ripping off your content word for word, what do you do?

  8. @johnny I usually start by sending them a polite e-mail asking them to take the content down. If that doesn’t work, I use a WHOIS query to find out who hosts them, and who owns the domain, and contact both.
    If that STILL doesn’t work, I send a far less polite note explaining my next steps and giving them a 24-hour deadline.

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