If someone copies your material, how will you know? Depending on your industry and competitors, you might be able to monitor some of them… but how can you monitor the whole Internet?
If you only sell locally, then you might assume that it doesn’t matter if someone overseas copies your copywriting or even your imagery. But the bottom line is that Google cares. It helps them to decide if you’re trustworthy.
So if you’re wanting to rank for certain phrases in Google, one of the (many) tests they perform, is to see if your copy is original. At the moment, it seems that they only check the originality of copy, but who knows… they might start checking images too!
Protecting your copy
Of course, the first step is to have valuable and original copy yourself. Don’t be tempted to copy sentences or phrases from competitors yourself. If you engage a professional copywriter, then you can take it for granted that your copy is original.
There are websites and software out there which will rewrite text. But don’t be fooled by the devil. The text often sounds unnatural, and so it won’t appeal to your prospective clients. In addition, Google seems to be learning what’s natural, and you can bet that this is a great way for them to catch spammers. The only substitute (to you or your staff writing the text) is for you to use a professional copywriter.
Check online for duplicate content
There are services which allow you to type in the address for a specific page of your website, and it will advise if it finds anything similar on other websites. Some even monitor your website and alerts you whenever copies are found.
We regularly use this service ourselves and have found duplicates over the years. At one stage, we found an alarming number of exact copies of one particular sentence which had been directly copied from our home page.
The main culprit was a company which designs website templates. They had “borrowed” an important sentence verbatim. And unfortunately it means that our unique sentence then propagated on numerous sites around the world.
It’s taken time and effort on our part, but the template designer has been helping to remove these infringements.
Google Alerts offers a free service where you can monitor specific phrases which are important to your business (such as your business name or tagline). Depending on the settings you choose, this alerts you whenever this phrase is used. You might even use it to monitor your (cough!) competitors.
Of course if you have specific phrases (such as your tagline, product names or business name) which are valuable to your business, then registering a trademark is worth considering. This will allow you to protect word/s (wordmark) in the subclasses and country where you register the trademark.
But remember that when you own a trademark, you’re responsible for enforcing it. You need to notify the other party that they’ve infringed.
Another important point is that your registered business name or company name don’t give you proprietary rights to that word/words.
Protecting your images
As a designer, I absolutely detest the idea that someone might copy graphics or photos that we develop for clients. But unfortunately it’s easy for people to copy and paste in the digital world nowadays.
If you commission a photographer or designer to create something for you, then ensure you know if you own copyright. Even if it’s licensed to you, then it’s important to know if you have exclusive rights.
Once again, the onus is on you to find people copying your work, inform them that they’re infringing, and take legal action if they don’t comply.
Google image search
Another free service offered by Google is their image search. If you go to Google, click on Images in the top toolbar, then click on the camera icon, and you can then upload one of your photos. This is a brilliant way to search for people “borrowing” your material.
At the moment I don’t know of a way to check all images on your site… but please let us know if you do!
Need professional designers who can help you protect your copy and images? Call Creative Passion on (07) 3366 8166.