Creating your own ecommerce store is a rewarding experience; and with so many available ecommerce platforms out there, it is simpler than ever to get started. Sure, it has its challenges — difficult customers, marketing mishaps, storage and delivery concerns, processing headaches — but with a little time and expertise, you realize these sand traps are just par for the course.
Still, there is one matter that isn’t part of a fair game — cyber theft. All too often e-stores are struck by credit card scams, identity theft and bogus user profiles, but that isn’t what we are focusing on today. Instead, we are discussing content theft, otherwise known as content scraping.
Content scraping is the act of pulling content from sites around the web and republishing it to a new site. This could be something as little as snatching a product description from your ecommerce site, to stealing entire webpages and showcasing them on another e-store. Similarly, price scraping pulls and repurposes dollar amounts and price tags to an imposter site.
These scams can be achieved through specialized software packages or content scraping bots, and are notoriously difficult to stymie. Especially when many vendors are completely unaware that they have been victimized.
This is bad news for stores and shoppers. Brands are likely to see deflated SEO effectiveness, diminished web traffic, loss of sales, decreased visitor engagement, slowed page load times (due to bot activity) and lowered brand awareness. Not to mention that consumers are sometimes fooled into buying bogus products from scraped websites; which, in turn, may negatively affect customer confidence in your products.
This is a very real problem. Even QVC, an American-based televised home shopping channel, has been negatively affected by content scrapers. So, is there anything you can do protect your store from this popular scam?
Scrap the Scrapers
Luckily, there are several solutions to block content and price scraping bots.
First, anti-bot applications detect and blacklist scraping software from accessing your site; this will stop some bots right in their tracks. Are you using a ready-made ecommerce platform? A Magento Enterprise and Shopify Plus comparison shows it is easier to integrate IT platforms and applications to your e-store using Shopify Plus, arguably making simpler to protect your online business.
If you are unsure if your content has been stolen, try using a simple search engine tool like Copyscape to locate duplicate sites across the world wide web. It should be pretty easy to tell the difference between legitimate, albeit similar, content and products and out-and-out plagiarism.
Finally, if you are the victim of a scraping scam, contact the owner of the imposter site with a DMCA notice demanding they cease infringing on your intellectual property. If they refuse your request or ignore you, try reaching out to their ecommerce platform provider to report the incident.
Of course, product copy and merchant pages aren’t the only sites vulnerable to content scraping. Ecommerce store owners would probably do well to investigate their on-site blogs and social media pages, too.
The Bad & The Ugly
But what if your site has engaged in content scraping? Sadly, some fledging ecommerce sites has resorted to scraping to fill out their webpages, especially when they are lacking in talented staff.
If you are worried about being caught in your own scraping scam, don’t worry. There is still time to set things straight. It might take a little extra effort, but writing and posting your own copy will likely improve your SEO, web traffic and relationship with your customers.
In the end, rejecting content scraping is really about respecting competitor companies, asserting your business’ autonomy and doing what’s best for web consumers everywhere.