Tips To Deal With WordPress Content Theft

Yesterday I wrote a post titled When Has Stealing Content Gone to Far?   At the time of publishing that post, I wasn’t really sure how it would be received because of the subject matter.   So far all feedback has been pretty positive, so I decided to write a quick follow up post talking about how to deal with getting your content stolen.  Thanks to Laurence for the idea.

As most people should know, when you publish content, pictures, or whatever else on the internet, there is always some risk that things will get scraped or stolen completely from your website/blog.  Despite everything falling under copyright protection, people sometimes get away with it because it is often difficult to enforce. 

So, what can do you to deal with content theft?  Here are two things readers suggested that may help:

  1. Terms and Conditions – Create a clear terms and condition policy that is findable on your website.   It may not help, but it certainly can’t hurt anything.   Throw it in the footer of your blog or somewhere that it is accessible. 
  2. Use Internal Links in your Posts – In addition to the SEO benefits of working on your internal linking structure, scraped and sometimes stolen content will often include these links back to your website.  

Hopefully those methods will help avoid this in the future, but what can you do when your content has already been stolen? 

  1. Contact the Offender – Depending on the situation, some sites may have a contact form or some way to contact the thief.   You can also try checking the domain whois records.  This is a good way to request they delete your stolen content and stop stealing your content in the future.   Though most know they are doing so, a few might not be aware that this is illegal.
  2. Take Action Against the Offender – If the first option doesn’t yield any results or there is no way to contact the owner, there are two ways to take action against the thief.   If they use Google AdSense to monetize the site (most do), you can report them to Google by clicking on the “Ads by Google” link in the lower right corner of the AdSense box and provide them feedback.  I believe stolen content is actually one of the default options you can check.   The other thing you can do is contact the hosting company and let them know they are hosting websites that are doing illegal practices.  I’ve heard of people have some success going this route, so it is a great last resort. 

So, that is what I have.   What do you do to deal with scrapers and content thiefs?

P.S.  Ironically enough, unless there is some sort of screening process that I’m not aware of, this post will be scraped at least 3 times shortly after publication.   Am I the only one that finds humor in that?

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  • Premium WordPress Theme Responsibilities

    Have you ever wanted to create a premium WordPress theme? I’m sure we’ve all noticed an explosion in this market over the past few months due to the income potential, but I’ve also noticed a bad trend that I’d like to talk a little bit about. That trend is the very un-premium quality of many of these new themes being released, as well as a extreme lack of innovation put into creating these themes.

    Many of the top designers in this market launched their sites back in late 2007 and quickly established their own niche. Since then, they have continued to release new themes, but they tend to shift their focus to a different type of end-user with each new theme. Newcomers seem to build very similar news/magazine themes that really aren’t all that different than what is already available. I don’t think to many people looking for a news or magazine theme are going to have any trouble filling their needs with what is already available, so place your focus somewhere else, or provide something in your theme that the competition doesn’t have.

    In addition to picking out a niche to build your business around, there are also some things you should consider before releasing a premium WordPress theme. Long time readers know that I’ve been following the premium WordPress themes market pretty closely since last November when it really started to pick up steam, and I’ve noticed several (easily fixable) mistakes web designers are making when trying to compete in this very competitive market. Below I’ve collected a few of these things that you should have in place before you launch your theme:

    1. Theme Support – This is by far the most important way to find success. When you charge for your theme, it raises the stakes, and buyers need to know that you will be there for them if they run into problems with your theme. You need to setup Forums for buyers to use and you need to be very active on them.
    2. Offer Theme Updates – As time goes by the internet evolves and WordPress evolves with it. You’ll want to re-evaluate your premium themes every few months and make updates, add features, etc. Then offer a free upgrade to all previous buyers.
    3. Browser Compatibility – A new designer recently tried to enter this market with a theme that did not display properly in Internet Explorer 6. It is fairly unprofessional to release a free theme that doesn’t display properly in all browsers (in my opinion), but its free so you can sometimes get away with it. The second you start charging for your services, you’ll have to provide a fully compatible theem.
    4. Valid Code – Just like browser compatibility, it is unprofessional to release code that isn’t valid and shows a lot about you as a web designer.
    5. Advertising – As I said above, this is a very competitive market now, and the PPC rates have gone up considerably in the last couple months. How much will you pay-per-click? Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.
    6. Affiliate Program – With the cost of PPC advertising being so high, what better way to market your product than to offer an affiliate program? This helps encourage bloggers to promote your product and you only have to make a payment if a sale is made. If you decide to go this route, make sure to create some banners for affiliates to use (125×125, 300×250 at least) and I recommend using E-Junkie to manage your affiliate program for you. It only costs a few dollars a month and they handle all the work, including billing and providing download links to the buyer.
    7. Give Away Theme Copies – Contact some large blogs with a big following and offer a few copies of your theme to give away to readers via a contest, etc, in exchange for a review. You could also offer the author a copy in exchange for a review. If you go this route, think about your target audience and find blogs in that niche. A good place to start is with blogs about blogging or WordPress.
    8. Innovation – Do something different. Target a specific niche. Don’t just add another news/magazine theme to the list that is growing larger each day.

    As you can see, there is a lot more to being successful in this market than simply offering a free theme. I think if you look at the three most successful premium theme authors, you’ll see a lot of the above.

    So, anything you would add? I know most of the premium theme designers read this blog and I would love to get their input. What about buyers of these themes? What do you look for when purchasing one a premium WordPress theme?

    Edit: PJ has provided a bunch of other responsibilities in the comments that were so good that I felt they warranted being added to the original post:

    1. Control Panel Options – Adding the ability to customize your theme from the control panel is a great option. At a minimum, buyers should be able to plug in their Feedburner feed information from the control panel.
    2. Provide Tutorials – Providing tutorials to buyers is a great way to show you support your theme.
    3. Multiple Color Schemes – Offering several different stylesheets to choose from as a great way to widen the appeal of your theme. This helps buyers use their favorite colors and make their sites/blogs look more original.
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  • Tips For Protecting Your WordPress Installation

    Matt Cutts is most commonly known for his job as the head of the Google Search team, but the guy also appears to know a lot about being a webmaster. A couple of days ago Matt wrote a post titled Three Tips to Protect Your WordPress Installation where he details three things you can do to help avoid having your WordPress blog get hacked.

    Here is the first tip:

    Secure your /wp-admin/ directory. What I’ve done is lock down /wp-admin/ so that only certain IP addresses can access that directory. I use an .htaccess file, which you can place directly at /wp-admin/.htaccess . This is what mine looks like:

    AuthUserFile /dev/null
    AuthGroupFile /dev/null
    AuthName “Access Control”
    AuthType Basic
    <LIMIT GET>
    order deny,allow
    deny from all
    # whitelist home IP address
    allow from 64.233.169.99
    # whitelist work IP address
    allow from 69.147.114.210
    allow from 199.239.136.200
    # IP while in Kentucky; delete when back
    allow from 128.163.2.27
    </LIMIT>

    I’ve changed the IP addresses, but otherwise that’s what I use. This file says that the IP address 64.233.169.99 (and the other IP addresses that I’ve whitelisted) are allowed to access /wp-admin/, but all other IP addresses are denied access. Has this saved me from being hacked before? Yes.

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  • WordPress Tip: Customizing Your 404 Page

    Most themes typically come with a 404.php page that shows up by default whenever an invalid URL is visited on your blog. Depending on how often you change the URL of existing posts or delete old posts, it may or may not be a high traffic page for your blog.

    Either way, when a typical web surfer finds your blog and is greeted with the lovely 404 page, they will most commonly just click the “Back” button on their browser and continue browsing through the other search results. If your 404 page is setup correctly, you can often retain that traffic by either offering something funny to grab the readers attention or by offering a variety of methods for them to find the post they are looking for. Over at Theme Playground I ran across a great post about customizing your 404 page, which includes a bunch of suggestions for retaining that traffic.

    I personally prefer to provide useful resources on my 404 pages, so I will typically use something like the following code to help search engine traffic hopefully find what they are looking for:

    <h1>Not Found, Error 404</h1>
    <p>The page you are looking for no longer exists.</p>
    <p>Perhaps you can find what you are looking for by searching the site archives!</p>
    <b>Search by Page:</b>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_list_pages('title_li='); ?>
    </ul>
    <b>Search by Month:</b>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly'); ?>
    </ul>
    <b>Search by Category:</b>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_list_cats('sort_column=name'); ?>
    </ul>

    I will also sometimes call the search box (usually searchform.php) and the popular posts plugin as well to help retain that traffic, depending on the type of blog the 404 page is being built for. How do you have your 404 page setup?

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  • Guide to Making a Successful WordPress Theme

    There are a lot of different variables when it comes to making a successful WordPress theme. It’s not always difficult to get people to actually download your theme, but it takes a little extra work to get them to stick with your theme for the long haul.

    With that said, there are quite a few things you can do to help make your theme appeal to more people. If you release free WordPress themes, here are a few things I recommend you do to maximize the amount of exposure (downloads and inbound links) from your WordPress theme:

    • Make a 2-Column Version and a 3-Column Version – This will allow your theme to appeal to both types of WordPress users.
    • Browser Compatibility – Make sure your theme is compatible with IE6, IE7, Firefox, and Opera.
    • Use a white background for the content area – Your average theme user prefers white backgrounds in the content area. I’m not sure of the reason for this, but studies show that the most downloaded themes have a white background in the content aera. I would presume this is because it allows users to easily add images that don’t have transparent backgrounds.
    • Offer an attractive subscribe section – Users want to promote their feed, so offering an attractive subscription section will draw more people to download and use your theme.
    • Keep it simple – There are a lot of really great themes, but browsing over the most downloaded themes, it looks like the simple themes are used the most often.
    • Search Engine Friendly – There are quite a few things a theme designer can do to optimize the theme for search engines. Set up archives to display partial posts, optimize headers, etc.
    • Integrate WordPress Plugins – I’ve talked previously about how to prevent WordPress plugins from breaking your blog. That same method can be used by theme designers to set up WordPress plugins to work out of the box. It is easy to do and will go a long way towards keeping people using your theme.
    • Validate Code – Having a valid XHTML and CSS compliant theme will go a long way to help your theme impress potential users.
    • Widget Ready – I was surprised at just how many people will only download widget ready themes. This ensures people with no coding knowledge can easily use your theme.

    Other useful things to consider when creating your theme:

    • Does your theme allow users to easily add advertisements? Themes with built-in spots for 125×125 advertisements are being downloaded like crazy right now.
    • Is there an options page that will allow users with minimal coding knowledge to make adjustments to the header and other things?
    • Do you offer the same theme with different colors?

    What do you look for when downloading a WordPress theme?

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  • WordPress Tip – Use the WordPress Post Slug

    If you aren’t a person that is fairly concious of search engine optimization when blogging, you probably having given much thought to the Post Slug field in your WordPress write panel. 

    Creating a post slug basically allows you to create the post URL of your choice after your blog’s name, depending on the permalink structure that your blog uses.     By default, the post slug will be the blog post’s title.  For example, by default, this would post having the following URL:

    http://wphacks.com/wordpress-tip-use-the-wordpress-post-slug

    Unfortunately, this is not a very search engine friendly URL, as many of the keywords are at the end of the URL.   By setting my own custom post slug, I am able to create a better URL for my post:

    http://wphacks.com/wordpress-post-slug

    In this case, my post title focuses on the keywords for this post, creating more emphasis on them.  The great thing about this tip is it takes a very minimal amount of time to do and will become second nature once you’ve turned it into a habit. 

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  • WordPress Tip: Use an Optimal Permalink Structure

    When it comes to search engine optimization, most everything is speculation and theories, but there are a few things that we know for sure. One of the things that Matt Cutts, who works for Google’s search team, has confirmed is how to best optimize your blog’s permalink structure for Google’s search engine.

    In a statement he made at WordCamp 2007, Matt made two points that apply to permalink structure:

    1. In URLs, no spaces are worst, underscore are better, dashes or hyphens are best.
    2. Do not include the post date in your URL.

    As you can see, for WordPress users, your best bet is to use /%postname%/ as your custom permalink structure.  This way the search engines can properly recognize your keywords and it avoids using the month/day/year or category in your post.

    If you already have an established blog and permalink structure, but want to make the switch, you can make the switch then use a 301 redirect to point to your older posts to avoid broken links.

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  • 8 Reminders When Changing Your WordPress Theme

    Comments Off on 8 Reminders When Changing Your WordPress Theme

    One of the best and most appealing parts of using WordPress is the various WordPress themes and WordPress plugins available. The plugins are easy to add, and the themes allow users to switch their blog’s theme with the click of a button.

    If you have made a habit of regularly switching WordPress themes, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done each time you make the switch. Here is a list of 8 reminders for you to follow each time you switch your WordPress theme:

    1. Transfer your metrics code – The most common thing people forget to do is transfer over their metrics scripts. These are usually found in the footer of your theme and can easily be transfered with a simple copy and paste.
    2. Transfer plugin calls – Remember all those plugins you installed that required calls to be placed in the theme? Those will each need to be transfered over to your new theme for your plugins to continue to function properly.
    3. Transfer sidebar stuff – If you are using widgets, this stuff will transfer over to new your widget-ready theme automatically. If you aren’t, you will need to transfer this stuff over manually.
    4. Verify your feeds work properly – Offering a valid feed to subscribers is crucial to a blogs success. You’ll want to make sure your feed is working properly, and if you use Feedburner, you will want to make sure your redirect is working properly.
    5. Update your advertising code – When you switch themes, you first need to transfer over your advertising code, then update the colors in the code to match your new theme.
    6. Test your theme for errors – Verify your menu is working properly, your tags, categories, and archives pages all work. You’ll also want to do a test search using the blog’s search engine.
    7. Test in all web browsers – You can either manually download and open your site in multiple web browsers (IE7, IE6, Firefox, and Opera), or try a service like Browsershots.
    8. Announce your theme change – Make a post that explains the change and ask readers to let you know if they encounter any problems. This way you can get feedback from people using a variety of browsers and resolutions.

    That covers everything I typically do when setting up or switching WordPress themes. Miss any? Sound off in the comments below!

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  • Tip: Schedule Your Posts Ahead of Time

    Have you ever seen a blogger mention how important it is to schedule posts ahead? It is generally a good idea to have a few posts set aside for a rainy day, or scheduled ahead in case something comes up.  If you are a WordPress user, you might not know that you have the ability to schedule posts ahead.  It is actually quite easy!  In addition to scheduling posts ahead, you can use old dates if you want your post to be dated sometime in the past.

    Here is how to schedule your WordPress posts to be published at a different time and/or date:

    1. Post TimestampWrite your post.
    2. Go to where it says Post Timestamp on the right side of your Write panel and adjust the time/date to reflect when you would like your post to be published. You will want to verify that your blog’s time is set up correctly to ensure the post appears when you want it to.
    3. Publish the post.
    4. The post will now appear in the Manage posts tab, but will not show on your site until the designated date/time. If you date it into the past, it will post right away and show the designated date/time.

    This is a useful way to keep a few posts saved for a rainy day or to keep content showing up if an illness puts you out of commission for awhile. You can also experiment with posting times to see what works best for you and your readers. For example, I’ve found publishing posts early in the morning seems to help Google AdSense payouts per click. It also allows readers overseas to see my stuff during their evening hours, before they go to bed.

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  • WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts to Improve Productivity

    If you use the WordPress rich text editor to write your posts, there are a few shortcuts that you may not be familiar with. Here is a useful list of shortcuts that you can use to make writing and formating posts a little easier:

    Bold: Alt+SHIFT+B
    Italics: Alt+SHIFT+I
    Link: Alt+SHIFT+A
    Blockquote: Alt+SHIFT+Q
    Code: Alt+SHIFT+C
    Read More: Alt+SHIFT+T
    Unordered List (ul): Alt+SHIFT+U
    Ordered List (ol): Alt+SHIFT+O
    List Item (li): Alt+SHIFT+L

    This can often save you the time it takes to switch back and forth between the visual tab and the code tabs. Enjoy!

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