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Content Scraping: How to Catch Content Scrapers, and What to Do About it

Last Updated on June 30th, 2021

Published on August 27th, 2013

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If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably heard about content scrapers. Scraping content is both adored and despised. Content scraping is the process of taking unique/original material from one website and posting it on another. Scrapers usually copy the full piece of information and pass it off as their own. 

Many content creators and site owners are naturally concerned about the prospect of a content scraper capturing all of their data. Here in our article, we will talk about what is content scraping and the methods on how to catch and prevent Content scrapers.

What is Content Scraping?

Scraping content from websites with scripts is known as content scraping. These programs gather information from many sources and compile it into a single webpage.

Some website owners utilize information scraped from other, more credible websites in the belief that expanding the number of pages on their site is a smart long-term strategy. Scraped information is sometimes restricted to snippets with links back to the source site, and other times the full blog post is copied word for word. 

Furthermore, content scrapers do not duplicate the material by hand. They use a variety of plugins and coding scripts to replicate your blog’s RSS feeds and generate identical material in a couple of minutes.

Scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not give any extra value to users if the site does not provide new valuable services or content; in some circumstances, it may even constitute copyright infringement. Investing the effort to produce unique content that distinguishes the website is beneficial. This will keep visitors coming back and give more relevant results for Google users.

It is important to comprehend the distinction between syndication and scraping. When another website utilizes your material without your consent, this is known as content scraping. 

Syndication, on the other hand, occurs when both parties agree to utilize the material under the terms of a contract. 

Does Content Scraping Affect SEO?

Scraping material has a negative impact on websites that have spent time, money, and resources to generate unique content since it lowers their SEO and web authority rankings.

Discovering that someone has not only stolen your material but also outranks you on Google for queries relating to that content is one of the most unpleasant experiences a publisher can have.

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Even though the originating content should theoretically rank first for the content because they are the source, scraper sites frequently rank higher than the content originator, generally in conjunction with other spam tactics to acquire the content ranking.

Worse, the original source of the material may disappear from search results, while a scraper site’s version may continue to rank well.

Is Web Scraping Illegal?

Many individuals have erroneous perceptions of web scraping. It is because some individuals do not respect the tremendous work that has been done on the internet and take advantage of it by stealing the information. Scraping content isn’t unlawful in and of itself; the issue arises when it’s done without the consent of the site owner and in violation of the Terms of Service.

Content scraping is the process of manually copying and pasting content from a website or using a site scraper application to collect the content. 

A scraper can cause serious financial losses to an online company, especially if it’s a business that relies heavily on content distribution arrangements.

The majority of the material is copyright protected. Furthermore, it is dishonest to misrepresent even publicly available material as creative work.

Scraping assaults are divided into three stages: 

  1. Web scrapers select their targets and make preparations to prevent the discovery of scraping attacks by generating false user accounts, masquerading their malicious scraper bots as legitimate ones, obfuscating their originating IP addresses, and more. 
  2. Scraping tools and methods should be used: A legion of scraper bots are deployed on the target website, mobile app, or API. The high volume of bot traffic overloads servers, resulting in slow website performance or even outage.
  3. Web scrapers collect proprietary material and database records from their targets and store them in their databases for further study and misuse.

How Do I Catch Content Scraping?

Plagiarism is a problem that has plagued the internet for quite some time. You’ve spent a lot of time and work generating high-quality material. However, there’s always another website eager to take it and pass it off as their own. It wasn’t given to you for free. And you have the legal right to defend it. Let’s look at how to catch content scrapers before we discuss how to deal with them.

This is the most straightforward method of locating content scrapers. All you have to do is use the titles of your blogs in a Google search. While it may seem like a terrible way to discover them, there’s a high chance you’ll stumble across a few.

Trackbacks

Direct scrapers that take content from your website might be detected using trackbacks. The trackbacks should, in theory, lead you to websites that have plagiarized your work. When compared to other CMSs, trackbacks are more prevalent on WordPress. However, having trackbacks on your site does not guarantee that you will rank well or benefit from the connection. The key is to connect within the site with rich anchor text that may be scraped for link juice.

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Copyscape

Copyscape is an anti-plagiarism application that allows you to see where illegal copies of your work have appeared on the internet. The plagiarism checker is completely free and simple to use.

  • To check for plagiarism, go to Copyscape’s free service.
  • Paste the link in the search bar and press go.
CopyScape content scraping

Check to see if there are any returns that you should be concerned about. Stay cool and don’t overreact if you believe your material has been abused. 

The Copyscape plagiarism checker looks for identical information online, but it doesn’t decide which page is the “original” or whether content has been taken from another. When a match is discovered, it’s possible that one website has plagiarized another, that one page is legally citing another, that both pages are quoting from the same external source, or that identical terms occur on both pages by accident. It is the user’s responsibility to thoroughly study each instance and evaluate the nature of the resemblance discovered. For further information on detecting and reacting to online plagiarism, read Copyscape’s Guide to Online Plagiarism.

Google Alerts

One of the finest free Google tools, Google Alerts, is a wonderful method to get alerted anytime a certain term is indexed on Google. It’s fantastic for finding brand references, but it’s also good for finding content scrapers. 

You may set up a Google Alert for the exact title of your post every time you publish it. You’ll be informed if someone scrapes material and makes a post with the same title. 

You may also create an alert for a single unique sentence from your post. This may also assist you in locating them.

Google Alerts content scraping
  • Enter a topic you’d like to follow in the top box. 
  • Click Show options to alter your preferences. You have the ability to alter: 
    • How frequently do you receive notifications? 
    • The kinds of websites you’ll come across 
    • Your language 
    • How many results you want to view from whatever region of the world you desire information 
    • What accounts are notified? 
  • Create an alert by clicking the Create Alert button. When we discover matching search results, we’ll send you an email.

Plagspotter

Using the duplicate content detection tool Plagspotter to manage your site’s content is one of the most beneficial steps you can do. You can identify individuals who copied or republished your material and enhance your own content by making it less similar to other websites by utilizing PlagSpotter’s unique plagiarism detection technology. This will not only improve the content of your site, but it will also increase your reading and viewership.

  • Enter your URL and hit the Find Copies button to receive a complete list of sources (URLs) that republish your material right away.
content scraping using Plogspotter
  • See a full list of URLs that include your matched material, as well as where the matched content is hosted, once you receive the duplicate content report.
content scraping using Plogspotter
  • See a comprehensive, sentence-by-sentence view of how much text material is duplicated on your website, as well as how many external sites include each exact fragment of your copied text, on the duplicate content report page.
content scraping using Plogspotter
  • Embed the PlagSpotter “Protected by PlagSpotter” logo on your website to deter plagiarists from copying your work. If your content is stolen, follow our instructions to remove it from undesired websites.

Google Webmaster Tool

The Google webmaster tool is a fantastic tool for finding scrapers for your website’s content. You should look at the sites that link to you, and if the links come from frequent postings, it’s likely that these are either die-hard blog fans, social followers, or scrapers.

How Do I Stop Content Scrapers?

Scrapers have figured out how to live off the labor of others without having to give credit. This implies that you must remove them. Let’s look at how to deal with content scrapers now that you know how to catch them.

Within your website, it is critical to building as many internal links as feasible. These links will take readers to earlier articles that are relevant to the one they are now reading. 

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Interlinking makes it easier for your viewers to locate new content and for search engines to scan your site. 

It can also be useful when dealing with content scraping. These links may be preserved if someone takes your material. As a result, you may be able to obtain some free connections from their website. 

Adding links to keywords that entice readers to click on them can help you lower your bounce rate.At the same time, when this article is scraped, the scraper’s website’s audience may also click on it. You’ll also wind up snatching the scraper’s audience this way.

Block IPs of known Scraper

You may even go one step farther and block the scrapers’ IP addresses. Once you’ve identified anomalous traffic, you can use.htaccess files or Nginx rules to restrict it on your server. If you’re a Kinsta customer, our support team can also help you block IPs. If you use a third-party WAF like Sucuri or Cloudflare, you may also use them to restrict IPs.

Block IP using Sucuri

  • Under the Ban IP Addresses column, click here and enter the IP address you want to blacklist. 
  • Once you’ve put the IP address into the box, click Blacklist to add it to the blacklist.

Put Login Access 

HTTP is a stateless protocol, which means that no information is retained from one request to the next, however, most HTTP clients (such as browsers) do save session cookies. 

This implies that if a scraper is viewing a page on a public website, it typically doesn’t need to identify itself. However, if the website is password-protected, the scraper must provide some identifying information (the session cookie) with each request in order to access the content, which may then be tracked back to discover who is scraping. 

This won’t stop the scraping, but it will offer you some information about who is accessing your content in an automatic manner.

Routinely change your website HTML

Scrapers rely on detecting patterns in a site’s HTML syntax, which they then utilize as cues to guide their scripts to the correct data in the HTML soup. 

You might be able to annoy the scraper enough that they give up if your site’s markup changes regularly or is completely inconsistent. 

This does not need a complete website redesign; merely altering the class and id in your HTML (and the related CSS files) should be sufficient to stop most scrapers. 

You should be aware that you may wind up driving your site designers nuts as well.

HTTP is a stateless protocol, which means that no information is retained from one request to the next, however, most HTTP clients do save session cookies. 

This implies that if a scraper is viewing a page on a public website, it typically doesn’t need to identify itself. However, if the website is password-protected, the scraper must provide some identifying information (the session cookie) with each request in order to access the content, which may then be tracked back to discover who is scraping. 

This won’t stop the scraping, but it will offer you some information about who is accessing your content in an automatic manner.

Individual IP Address Rate Limits

If you’re getting thousands of requests from a single computer, it’s likely that the person who’s behind it is sending automated requests to your website. 

One of the first steps sites take to combat web scrapers is to block requests from machines that are making them too rapidly. 

Keep in mind that certain proxy services, VPNs, and corporate networks display all outgoing traffic as coming from the same IP address, so you may unintentionally block a large number of genuine users who are all connected through the same computer. If a scraper has adequate resources, they can get around this security by running their scraper on many machines, such that only a few requests come from each machine. 

If time permits, they may simply slow down their scraper so that it pauses between queries and looks to be merely another person visiting URLs every few seconds.

Disable Image Hotlinking 

If you discover that individuals are scraping your RSS feed for information, they may be taking your bandwidth as well. They may be taking pictures from your website to do this. 

To prevent them from doing so, make certain adjustments to your website’s.htaccess file to block image hotlinking.

There’s a risk you’ll lose some key visitors as a result of content scraping. However, by simply adding affiliate links to specific terms, you may take advantage of this. Plugins like SEO Smart Links and Ninja Affiliate can help you automate this procedure. 

While you may lose some visitors as a result of this, you will still earn affiliate commissions. You might be taking advantage of the scraper’s audience without even realizing it.

Use CAPTCHA

CAPTCHAs are meant to distinguish people from computers by posing tasks that are simple for humans but complex for machines to solve. 

While humans perceive issues to be simple, they also find them to be highly irritating. CAPTCHAs are useful, but they should be utilized with caution. 

Perhaps a CAPTCHA should only be displayed if a client has made hundreds of queries in the last few seconds.

Create Honeypot Page

A “honeypot” is a link to fictitious material that is not visible to the average user but is present in the HTML and appears when a software parses the page. Scrapers can be detected and made to waste resources by accessing pages that contain no data by diverting them to such honeypots.

Wrapping Up!

Scrapers can be defeated using a variety of ways. No one strategy provides complete protection, but by combining a few, we may create a very effective scraper deterrent.

Well, let us know how it goes! 

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