Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Protecting your content on the web

Content is King, or so most marketers say.  It is for good reason that marketers have such high regard for quality content.  The normal sales cycle begins with discovery.  You can't buy something if you don't know it exists.  And thus, most content marketing strategies are aimed at increasing engagement with your potential customers during the discovery phase.

High quality content is informative, captivating, and begs to be shared.  This increases inbound links, visitors, and ultimately sales.  So, content is not only king, it is also gold.  But there's one problem.  High quality content isn't easy to make.

The web is an infinitely large place with far more content than any person could consume.  This leads some companies to believe that stealing content is easier than making it, and hard to catch.  

I once knew of a company that was scraping content (stealing content by means of a computer script) from various websites and reselling it to their customers.  This business model netted over $20MM each month.  (M is the roman numeral for 1000, so 1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000)  

If you are creating original high quality content, you may be feeding companies that make money from stolen content, or worse, your competitors may be using it to drive their sales.

I believe in a free and open world where knowledge is shared, but I also believe credit should be given where due.  The best way to protect your content isn't to lock it up and force people to look at it in a maximum security environment.  The best way to protect your content and grow from it is to share it and get credit.

For images and video, this means putting your logo on them.  If someone is siphoning bandwidth by serving the image from your servers, you can limit access to images or serve up a different image that brings people back to your site.

For ebooks and blogs, it means adding links back to your site and referencing your company and other content.  It also means taking advantage of microdata to let indexing bots like search engines know you are the original author.

You'll never be able to stop all the die hard forgers who go to great lengths to recreate your original work.  But, the further your content spreads, the more people it will touch, even if it is stolen.  If you give those readers a clear path back to you, getting your content stolen is almost a strategy.