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A competitors set up a new site and copy and pasted some copy from our home page.

When doing a comparison with a duplicate content tool the result was that the pages where 21% similiar.

Does the fact they have copied our content affect our site?

Their site has seen an increase in their ranking recently and ours ahs dropped slightly

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Send a DMCA take down notice to Google and their web host. At the very least that will get them out of Google and, if their host doesn't suck, it will get their site taken down as well (assuming it is hosted in the US). –  John Conde Sep 19 '10 at 1:36
    
hosted in the UK. Only some content is copied, but what is copied, is copied word for word. I wass thinking that notifying google was going a bit far but I'll contact the host, Thanks for the idea! –  Craig Angus Sep 19 '10 at 21:08
    
I've experienced this also. A DMCA notice was sent to the host (a medium sized provider) but they failed to act upon it. The reality in this case was unless you want to take it further and get litigious it won't be taken seriously. The people who copied you are obviously a cheap outfit, so just re-write even better copy for your homepage. That will cost you less than a lawsuit. –  BradB Oct 28 '10 at 16:43
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We contacted the site owner, they were unaware as had out sourced the building of the website to a 3rd party who were responsible for creating the website with duplicate content, they removed it while we were on the phone to them –  Craig Angus Oct 28 '10 at 23:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Firstly, if they've copied original content from you without permission this is a breach of copyright, so you could consider legal action. A complaint to their ISP would be the first port of call here. You'd need to be able to prove that you are the original author of the content.

Regarding the SEO aspect, from Google's webmaster guidelines:

If you find that another site is duplicating your content by scraping (misappropriating and republishing) it, it's unlikely that this will negatively impact your site's ranking in Google search results pages.

See also: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html

Google mostly uses 'duplicate content' to avoid including the same content from multiple domains in search results. E.g. if you searched for a book title you wouldn't want to see the same book listing on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr and amazon.de in the results. In my experience they're pretty good at detecting the difference between this and copied content, and 21% doesn't sound like something that's going to cause you any problems.

Remember there are many different factors that affect the ranking of results, so even if you have seen a drop recently I would be wary of thinking that this was the direct result of your competitor's plagiarism.

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This can affect your ranking.

Google is very secretive so this info is from what I've been told by other web masters that this happened to them, I have no idea if this behavior kicks in at above or below 21%.

What happens is that Google will display just one site for this content (may be with other sites collapsed), if Google thinks the other site has more "authority" the other site rank for that content and not you.

Usually, but not always, scraper sites have low Google rank and so will not displace the original in the search results - but if your competitor has good Google rank you may be in trouble.

Now, if this competitor is a legitimate company from a country that respect copyrights you can probably send them a nice e-mail asking for the content to be removed followed by a not-so-nice letter from a lawyer demanding it will be removed. (I am not a lawyer, don't take legal advice from strangers on the internet)

At the end of the day, your only defense is to be better at SEO than your competitor.

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