Beware of Financial Sites Scraping Your Content

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A number of financial sites that cater to financial advisors, and in some cases consumers, are scraping content from established financial advisor and industry related blogs. Scraping high quality content from high quality sites is nothing new in the digital publishing world, but it’s becoming more common with financial sites. In particular, those that are not yet well established are attempting to populate their sites with already published high quality content…without the permission of the original publisher or author. This is an unacceptable practice, but unfortunately it does exist.

In this article, I’ll explain what content scraping is and what you can do if your content gets scraped without your permission.

What exactly is scraping content?

Scraping content is when a site takes either an excerpt or full post from your blog and publishes it to their site without your permission. You work hard to produce your original thought leadership content. If someone else is using your content to build their brand, it can be very frustrating.

In many cases, the site that is scraping the content will link back to the original source (your site), but not always. Even if this is the case, it can still work against you, which I will explain in greater detail below.

When a website or blog scrapes content from your site without your permission, they are using your content to build their brand.

If the content being scraped constitutes the “heart of the work”, and is being used without your permission, it’s potentially a violation of copyright. Now, I’m no copyright expert, but Susan Weiner from InvestmentWriting.com has written a nice article on the legal dangers of “scraping” as it pertains to financial professionals. She also helps financial advisors understand copyright infringement.

How do you know if your content is being scraped?

Utilize tools such as Majestic SEO (free plan requires registration) to see who is linking to your site. Also, pay attention to your Google Analytics to see if you are receiving any traffic from new sites that you don’t recognize or haven’t noticed before. If the site that scraped your content did not link back to your site, it’s a bit more difficult to find out about it. You can also set up alerts for your brand, and I recommend the tool Mention for this (it is much more robust than Google Alerts). Also, you can use CopyScape to determine if someone has copied your content. Ultimately you need to be paying attention to stay on top of who might be leveraging your content for their benefit.

Are you safe as long as the scraper links back to your original post?

Example of scraped financial blog content

Another example of Wired Advisor blog content being scraped

No. Many times, the financial sites that are scraping content will link back to the original source. It’s good that they are at least giving credit to you as the original source, however, if the site is low quality and/or your site ranks higher, this can hurt you. You can check out the quality of any site using the free Moz SEO Toolbar for Chrome or Firefox. You will want to compare the Moz Rank and Moz Page Authority for your site with any site that is scraping your content. Ultimately if there is no real benefit to you in gaining exposure to the right audience or the scraper site is low quality, it’s not worth having the link. At this point you will want to contact the webmaster for the site and ask them to remove your content and the link back to your site. Unfortunately you may get no response depending on the site.

Having lower quality inbound links into your blog or website hurts the quality of your site and affects your search engine ranking results.

Are sites that ask you to create a profile and submit your RSS feed okay?

What about sites that allow you to build a profile and submit your RSS feed? This requires an in-depth assessment of the host site. Be careful about being lured by lower quality sites that ask you to do this with the promise of great returns. The same goes for sites that ask to utilize entire, original articles from your website or blog. First make sure it’s a quality site using the methods and tools I mentioned above. Next, make sure the site caters to an audience that is relevant to you and that you have some opportunity to stand out from all the other contributors.

If the site is low quality, not relevant to your target audience, or you have no opportunity to stand out from everyone else, it may not be worth providing your content for “free” to help them build their brand.

There are numerous financial sites that survive and thrive on contributions from financial advisors. Just keep in mind when you contribute to these sites, you are competing with every other advisor who is doing the same. Additionally, make sure to evaluate whether or not the traffic generated back to your site from your contribution is targeted and converting into leads for your business.

If you do decide to contribute your content to an aggregate financial site, you will want the original content (post) to be published on your site first. Otherwise, if you’re posting to a site that ranks higher in search, and gets more traffic than your site, that article will potentially outrank the same article on your site in Google search.

Make sure all roads lead back to your digital properties first where the original content exists.

Is guest posting to another site safe?

Guest posting is probably your best opportunity for building quality and relevant links back to your website or blog. The more relevant the site you are guest posting to, the better. With guest posting you will also want to evaluate the quality of the site and the relevancy of the audience. Finding professionals in your community or an industry that you target and engaging in a relevant guest post exchange strategy can be a win-win for both parties.  Remember to always review your analytics from your guest posts to ensure that your efforts generate a return that is consistent with your goals.

Your Turn

Have you ever had your content scraped that you’ve worked hard to produce without permission? Are you giving content away to the wrong websites? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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About Stephanie Sammons

Stephanie Sammons is the founder and CEO of Wired Advisor™. She's been named one of the Top 25 Social Media Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn and a Top Financial Industry Blogger by RIABiz. As a CFP® and former 15-year financial advisor, Stephanie combines her "in the trenches" industry knowledge with her extensive digital marketing experience to teach financial advisors how to win and keep clients in a wired world. Follow Stephanie on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Ron

    Great article! The more valuable the content, the more bots and scrapers targeting it. There are companies out there that can stop this type of behavior before it ever gets a single piece of content. Leading the charge is Distil Networks.

    • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

      Thanks Ron. I would venture to say that most small businesses can’t afford a service like that. However, in the post I’ve recommended a number of free or low cost tools they can utilize.

  • Susan Weiner, CFA

    I installed the Moz SEO toolbar after reading about it in this post. Thanks, Stephanie!

    • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

      Great Susan! I like it better in Firefox than Chrome FYI.

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