A blog explaining why the practice of content scraping, which used to seem like no big deal, now should be reported to Google…especially if you are a voice talent
What is content scraping?
To begin with the typical infomercial intro voice actors know so well, “OH NO! Has this ever happened to you?!”
Content scraping is the process by which one website takes content you have published from your website, and places it on their own, displayed as their content. For those familiar to working offline, consider it the immoral equivalent to “stealing someone’s song” or “stealing published work”.
To give you an example, this just happened (sort of) to us last week at Realtime Casting. It went down like this:
- Jim Kennelly posted a video on Realtime Casting’s Facebook page of Stephanie Hayes recording for an AON voice over job.
- The same day, while doing a search engine results check, this link showed up higher in search results than the Facebook post.
- Technically, I am not sure this counts given it was social media, but it is still a pain in the neck because if someone asks us, we have no idea how it got there.
You may wonder to yourself, “What is the big deal and why should I care? All exposure is good exposure right?”
What if you plunk down thousands of dollars to get your demo on several websites and work on your own website to improve your search results? You are mainly paying these services, because you sought them out and researched them, to display you higher in search results. After all, page 2 of Google results is not the goal.
Then, a scraper site comes along, places your demo on a new site that is poorly designed, and quite possibly is stealing content to make it look like a new business is in place laying claim to your content. Perhaps this company has a better digital marketer and now…The scraper site ranks higher than what you paid for, making your investment into search marketing a waste of money.
But you are a voice talent and you know nothing about this, so what can you do? What if you paid to use a website, and now that website is publishing your content on a new website without your consent?
You are not alone…
This has been happening for years. If you have ever had a MP3 voice over demo on a website with a URL attached to it, chances are this has happened to you at some point. In short, this is a way people have been “cheating” to start new websites. The funny thing about the voice over industry is that its size makes its easy to catch cheaters. You can contact someone and ask, “Did you see your demo was put on this page? Do you even know these people?”.
Someone will definitely know someone else who can answer the question. To date, the most common place we have seen demos show up is on this site: http://beemp3s.org/
Type in your name and see what happens. It is very easy for websites to copy what someone else has done, and present it as their own, thus making your marketing efforts worthless. There was a time when one could look at such behavior and think, “Hey! I must be getting out there. Look at all these people who are copying my work and sharing it. That is good, right?”.
Wrong and here is why…Seems like old times
In the past, it seemed like there was no way to combat this other than to contact the website owner and see if they wanted to work together. It rarely worked.
Thankfully, Google is getting smarter and smarter everyday, doing their best to make sure the content you see if quality, excellent, and published with the consent of the content’s owner, if not by the creator of that content itself. To draw a parallel, how would you feel if someone went around offline talking to people, using your name to get work without permission while claiming to know you, and then this person turned out to be a lunatic.
It seems like old times. What content scraping essentially does is allows for websites to behave as con artists for the purposes of growing their business. Sure, at some point they may be caught, but hopefully by the time that happens the website will have made enough money to use their own content, and stop using the scraped content. Google, for all its technology, is getting back to familiar fundamental truths about what people want when they run a business:
1. People want credit for what they create.
2. People do not want to be treated unfairly.
3. People do not want to be associated with anyone who operates under immoral and unethical business practices.
4. People, the majority of them in this world, care about doing things the right way and NOT operating under the belief system, “Can we get away with this? If so, for how long?”.
There is a reason only 32% of consumers trust what they see online. This ultimately means that any business, who was clever enough to cheat Google over the last few years enough to grow a business, will now have to plan ahead with integrity and honesty. Surely the companies who knew how to cheat will be spending much of the money they earned over the years cleaning up their SEO reputation with Google.
How you can report scraped content to Google
Is your content published on a website without your permission? Is this page now ranking higher than your own published content?
The last thing you want as a small business/voice talent is to have your published content associated with a false or shady website.
This tip comes to you from the staff at Realtime Casting. If you have a comment or question, please let us know.