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I am having a problem and really didn't find a specific case like mine.

I found out using Ahrefs that there's several scrapped sites copying our content and from other sites that uses rel="canonical" to link to the original post. Theses links appear as our backlinks on Ahrefs and Google Search Console for example. Should I disavow these sites?

You can open a post url and see the source code to see the canonical link.

I never made a disavow file before, so I am afraid of making the wrong choice of URLs. That seems like really bad backlinks, am I right?

List of sites using Canonical backlinks

our traffic wen't down after getting these backlinks. traffic down after hundreds of canonical backlinks

2 Answers 2

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Ok, so the issue there is that not only there are canonicals from copied articles to the originals, there's a lot of sites doing it for the same content. Apparently, they are ranking, too, despite posting canonicals. Maybe they're cloaking, but I don't see the point in cloaking canonicals.

Also, the original site's traffic is going down. Likely due to these canonicals. The timing makes sense.

The suggestion here is to wait on disavowing, instead use Google's reporting tool: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905

It allows you to report stolen content: enter image description here


It was not explicitly made for text content, but it falls under "Other".

A few Nuances here to note:

  • You can use something like screaming frog (for free) to scan the offending sites. The tool will grab canonicals and store them in a neat column. Get the lines with your canonicals and that would be the list of the urls for your subsequent reporting.
  • While doing so, you will likely to see other canonicals there. Other sites are being exploited. Do consider reaching out to them and giving them a hand.
  • The reporting tool is awkward to use, consider scripting it.
  • The reporting tool has a threshold of about 200 reports pre day. Keep that in mind.
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  • I don't think it's a case of a good webmaster trying to "promote" other sites. It's just a bunch of sites with suspicious URLs copying and translating content across the web. We got over 60 sites like these liking to ours in the past 2 months. Doesn't seems like a good thing. And our traffic web immediatly down after all these backlinks.
    – Alex
    Nov 2, 2022 at 15:57
  • It's either someone's mistake, or a super new bug found in how google evaluates canonicals. I haven't heard of it ever before. Will ask in a few SEO communities, but I don't expect much insight here really. Disavowing sites is an awkward tool. I'd suggest to try looking for correlations of your organic decline with other things. Just to counter the confirmation bias here.
    – BNazaruk
    Nov 2, 2022 at 16:15
  • Ok, there are some indications that this may be an attack, but they look too incompetent to be believable. Nothing describes the algorithm or the logic behind it or even attempts to really. Still, probably better be safe than sorry. If you see that these canonicals are the only obvious reason for your traffic drop, I'd suggest disavowing all the sites who copied your content.
    – BNazaruk
    Nov 2, 2022 at 16:32
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    I saw Bill Hartzer's article too. It's very weak in my opinion. He just states there The bad content on site B gets passed onto Site A but offers no explanation of what he means by content passing, no insight on the mechanic, no details at all, so I just presume there's no real competence behind that article. It's also very old.
    – BNazaruk
    Nov 2, 2022 at 17:00
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    I don't think there's much more they could do to you. If I were them and saw evidence of you reporting me, I would immediately shift my focus to a different victim that wouldn't be so lively with defending. It's not personal, just immoral. They're just trying to steal your income. While I'm pretty sure it's anonymous, moreover, it would probably be illegal for G to share your personal information with third parties, I can't confirm how anonymous it is. I've never stolen people's content :)
    – BNazaruk
    Nov 2, 2022 at 19:29
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In speeches, I've seen by former Google employees and other types of releases. Some large major sites have disavow going into the 10s of thousands if not more.

I would very much like the disavow file to be limited to sites that have been peer-reviewed by other webmasters and used to tell google these sites are spammy. But I am either alone or in the minority. Large sites get way to many links to review and can create a disavow file going into the 100s of thousands.

I would find it hard to disavow a site who has the good taste to use my content. Clearly, they are trying to present good content or they would have copied somebody else. But they are copying content and I don't want to be associated with sites that copy content. The disavow is not a tool that is used to indicate the other site is evil ... I would disavow, even those sites who have good taste in what content they are scraping. Although I would still hand pick, I don't need to disavow a good site who is referencing my content. Only those who are doing things that I want to dis-associate from.

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