Do you worry that someone might take content from your website and use it without your permission?
Website scraping, also known as content scraping, is a common issue for many website owners, and WordPress users may experience it more frequently than others.
According to a study, 85% of shared images online are stolen, and around 90% of all websites scraped content from other websites.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent content scraping on your WordPress site.
In this article, I’ll look at a few viable and successful strategies for safeguarding and controlling the content on your website.
What is Content Scraping?
Content scraping is the act of extracting content from websites using automated tools without the owner of the website’s consent.
Hackers and spammers frequently use this method to republish content on other websites or to gather personal data.
Here are some examples of content scraping:
1. Article scraping: stealing articles from blogs or news sources and republishing them without permission on other websites using auto blogging WordPress plugins.
2. Price scraping: Stealing e-commerce site prices and using them to undercut the original seller.
3. Contact scraping: Scraping contact information from websites and using it to send spam or phishing messages. You should hide or encode email addresses to stop contact scraping on your site.
4. Search scraping: Using search engine results that have been scraped to boost the ranking of other websites.
5. Social scraping: stealing information from social media platforms and using it to make fake accounts or pose as someone else.
Website owners who engage in content scraping risk losing visitors and money and tarnishing their reputations.
You can use tools like content protections, CAPTCHAs, and IP blocking to block traffic to your website, so you don’t get scraped.
Why Are Content Scrapers Stealing Your Site Content?
Content scraping is a common problem faced by website owners.
But why do content scrapers steal your site’s content? Here are five reasons:
1. Profit: Your content can be scraped by scrapers to republish and monetize their own websites by paying for advertising or reselling advertisements
2. Convenience: Content scrapers let you quickly fill your website with content without having to create any of your own because they copy content from other sites
3. Search engine optimization: Content scrapers may steal your site’s content to improve their own search engine rankings.
4. Lack of originality: Some content scrapers steal content due to a lack of originality or creativity.
5. Competition: Some content scrapers steal content to compete with your site or to undermine your business.
In addition to negatively affecting your site’s search engine ranking, content scraping can also cause your business to lose revenue
How to Catch Content Scrapers?
Content scraping can be a major issue for bloggers and website owners. But how can you catch content scrapers?
Here are six tips for identifying and dealing with content scraping:
1. Use content protector plugins: You can stop people from copying your content with content protector plugins. If you don’t want to do that, you can let them copy the reference link along with the content and finally find your users that way.
2. Use Copyscape: This tool can help you find instances of content from your website being used on other sites without your permission.
3. Monitor your website’s traffic: Keep an eye on the analytics for your website to see if there has been a sudden increase in traffic from a certain referral source.
4. Set up Google Alerts: You can receive alerts from this tool when content from your website appears on other websites.
5. Use the Wayback Machine: By allowing you to see previous iterations of a website, this tool can help you spot instances in which content was added to a website without your consent.
6. Use Watermarking: Watermarking pictures and videos can discourage content scrapers because it makes it more challenging for them to use your content covertly.
It’s important to note that it can be difficult to catch every instance of content scraping and that prevention is better than cure.
By combining these methods, you can increase the chances of catching content scrapers and protecting your website’s content. Stay tuned to learn more about preventing content scraping.
11 Ways to Protect Your WordPress Site from Content Scrapers
This is the new normal for stealing your content, and many are just dealing with it. Almost everyone has experienced content theft.
Preventing all the content scraping is almost impossible, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make it more difficult for them. Plus, these methods prevent most users, including some experts.
If you make original and good content, there is a high chance your content is getting scraped. I tried to show you methods to prevent content scraping in this article.
I also wrote an article letting you know the most effective methods to prevent content theft on your website; make sure to check it out.
Method 1: Disable Hotlinking in WordPress
Hotlinking is a common way to use your content on their website. With hotlinking, they use your post, page, or media link to show it directly on their website.
By hotlinking, not only are they using your content without your consent, they are using your host bandwidth to show it to their audience.
I suggest to use WPShield Content Protector to disable hotlinking, which offers a secure protector to prevent hotlinking.
To disable iFrame hotlinking, follow these steps:
Step 1: Download WPShield Content Protector.
Step 2: Go to the WordPress dashboard and install the plugin from Plugins → Add New.
Step 3: Go to WP Shield → Settings.
Step 4: Open the iFrame Hotlink Protector and turn on the iFrame Hotlink Protector.
Step 5: This protector offers four protocols with different levels of security.
Choose the best protocol based on your need:
- Show Popup Message in iFrame Requests: This protocol shows a popup message on the requested iFrame. This protocol is not 100% secure, and other protocols are more suitable if you are looking for more secure options.
- Block and Show a Blank Page in iFrames: This protocol blocks the iFrame request and shows a blank page. This protocol is the most secure option.
- Show a Watermark Copyright on iFrame Requests: This protocol shows a watermark on top of the requested page. Choose the image and its opacity in Watermark on iFrame Pages section. This protocol has the best UX making sure your audience has a good experience on your website.
- Redirect iFrame Request to Custom Page: You can make a custom page to show instead of the requested iFrame. This page can showcase what you have on your website or a disclaimer about content theft. Select the custom page in Redirect To Page.
Thieves might use your media link to hotlink on their website. Hotlinking media happens frequently and can decrease your server speed if it happens a lot.
Important Note: I suggest you read our ultimate guide for disabling hotlinking in WordPress because we explained all methods of disabling hotlinking including video, audio and images too.
Method 2: Rate Limiting and Blocking
Rate limiting is a technique that limits the number of requests a user or IP address can make to your website within a certain period.
This can prevent scrapers from overwhelming your server with a large number of requests, which can cause damage and slow down your website for legitimate users.
Blocking, on the other hand, is a technique that denies access to your website based on certain criteria, such as IP address or user-agent.
This can be used to block known scrapers or IP addresses that are making too many requests, preventing scraping attempts before they even reach your server.
When used together, rate limiting and blocking can be an effective method of preventing content scraping. It’s like a bouncer at the door, allowing only legitimate users to access your website while blocking the ones who are there to cause trouble.
The best way to add rate limiting is by using security plugins. You can check our list of best WordPress security plugins for more information.
Method 3: Use a Content Copy Protection Plugin and Disable Right Click
Right-clicking is probably the first method thieves use to steal a website’s content. Disabling right-click can prevent normal users from stealing your content.
Note: Disabling right-click can decrease UX and make your genuine audience leave your website.
I use WPShield Content Protector to disable the right-clicking in this article.
WPShield Content Protector can also limit the right-click menu. This option protects your content while ensuring the website’s UX is not affected. In the following, I will explain both options; choose based on your needs.
To prevent right-clicking on your website, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to WP Shield → Settings.
Step 2: Go to Right Click Protector and enable Right Click Menu Protector.
Step 3: In this protector, you can choose to disable or limit the right-click menu.
Choose a protocol based on your need:
- Disable Right Click Context Menu Completely: This protocol eliminates the right-click on your website. It is a very secure method but decreases the user experience (UX).
- Right Click Menu Limiter: This protocol limits the right-click menu instead of disabling it. Thieves can’t abuse the right-click options to steal your content, but regular users can use its feature, like the opening link in a new tab.
This is what the limited right-click menu looks like.
Important Note: for more information, you can see our ultimate guide for disabling right click in WordPress where we explained more information and methods.
Method 4: Disable or Limit RSS Feeds
Automation plugins and bots use RSS feed links to steal your content, so you need to disable or limit the RSS link.
WPShield Content Protector can help you prevent website scraping by limiting or disabling RSS feeds.
To disable or restrict the RSS Feed, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to WP Shield → Settings.
Step 2: Go to Feed Protector and enable Feed Protector.
Step 3: In this protector, you can disable or limit the RSS Feed.
Choose a protocol based on your need:
- Disable and Redirect Feed URLs to Normal Pages: This protocol entirely disables the RSS link and redirects the user to the standard page.
- Show Only Post Excerpts in Feeds: This protocol only shows the post excerpt and eliminates the post content. This protocol has the best UX.
- 404 Page Not Found Error for All Feed Requests: This protocol shows a 404 page not found error for all the feed requests. This method is highly secure.
Another effective method is adding a copyright notice to your RSS Feed content. You can add a link to your website and get a backlink or get credit.
To add copyright notice in RSS feed content, do this:
Step 1: Go to WP Shield → Settings.
Step 2: Go to Feed Protector and enable Feed Protector.
Step 3: Add a Copyright Notice Before Post Contents in Feed or Copyright Notice After Post Contents in Feed.
Important Note: For more information, you can read our ultimate guide for disabling and limiting RSS feeds in WordPress.
Method 5: Add Lots of Internal Links
Making it challenging for scrapers to access all of your content at once is one of the best ways for website owners to stop content scraping.
Here are a few tips for adding internal links to your WordPress website:
1. Link to old content: When you publish new content, link to older content that is relevant to the topic at hand. You can use WordPress internal link building plugins like LinkWhisper to do this automatically. This will keep users on your website longer and make it more difficult for scrapers to access all of your content at once.
2. Use anchor text: Anchor text is the text that is displayed as the link. Use descriptive words or phrases in your anchor text to give users an idea of the linked page.
3. Use categories and tags: WordPress has built-in categories and tags that you can use to organize your content. Use these to link related content together and make it more difficult for scrapers to access all of your content at once.
4. Use related posts plugins: A great way to add internal links without having to do it manually is by using one of the many related posts plugins for WordPress, which can automatically link to content on your website that is related.
It’s important to note that adding internal links alone may not be a foolproof solution to prevent content scraping. It’s always good to have multiple layers of protection.
You can improve the security of your website and safeguard your users by combining various techniques like rate limiting, blocking, and adding internal links.
Method 6: Prevent Image Theft
If you are a photographer with original photos on your website, you always worry your pictures are getting stolen, and yes, you should be!
According to CopyTrack, approximately 2.5 billion images get stolen every day, it is 85% of all shared images, which is shocking!
You can use WPShield Content Protector to prevent image theft on your website. This plugin offers different options to ensure your photos are secure.
To prevent image theft, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to WP Shield → Settings.
Step 2: Go to Image Protector and enable Image Theft Protector.
Step 3: Image Protector offers different options to secure your images.
Turn on the options that suit your needs:
- Disable Right Click On Images: You can disable right-clicking on the image so no one can download it. This option can decrease the website’s UX. I suggest you limit the right-click menu instead of disabling it to enhance the website’s UX.
- Disable Drag and Drop on Images: Thieves might drag and drop images to download or upload them to another source. This protocol ensures drag-and-drop is disabled on the pictures.
- Remove Anchor Link Around Images: This protocol removes any link pointing to the full version or lightbox of the image.
- Hotlink Protection for Images: Some thieves might use your image link to show it on their website. This protocol blocks any request from external resources asking to load the image.
Hotlink Protection for Images doesn’t block search engines like google and only blocks regular websites’ requests.
Important Note: If you like to know more about preventing image theft on your website, I wrote a complete tutorial on how to protect images on the WordPress website.
Method 7: Install Recaptcha Plugin
To scrap content, a bot needs to access your website. by blocking bots from your website, you can ensure most of them cannot steam your website’s content.
You can use a ReCaptcha WordPress plugin to prevent content scraping.
ReCAPTCHA is an advanced form of CAPTCHA that can distinguish between robots and human users.
Passing the test requires users to select a checkbox to indicate they are not robots. They will either immediately pass or be presented with multiple images to match.
Method 8: Install a Security Plugin
You can protect your website from content scrapers by installing a WordPress security plugin such as Sucuri. If you want your content scraped, content scrapers must visit your site.
WordFence and Sucuri are two of the top WordPress security plugins.
It is common for scrapers to visit pages more quickly and send more HTTP requests than human visitors. However, they often have shorter page viewing sessions.
Security plugins are designed to detect suspicious behavior like this.
Once installed, it will look for signs of bot activity while monitoring the traffic on your website. If the security plugin believes the visitor is a bot, it will block all traffic from that IP address.
Method 9: Block IP of Web Scraping Bots
You must first install Wordfence Premium.
We’ll ask Wordfence to record IP hosts and visitor agents visiting your site, then filter out web scraping bots.
Step 1: Install Live Traffic mode. You go to Wordfence → Tools and then install it.
Step 2: Filter out the scraping bots to block them. Click Show Advanced Filters→ Select URL→ contains→ feed to see which web scraping bots have accessed your RSS Feed URL
Web scraping bots have the following characteristics:
- The user-agent name usually means it’s a bit. However, sometimes they have human names, making them more challenging to find.
- They visit your website at a repetitive and regular time, like every 5 or 10 minutes.
- Neither hostname nor user-agent contains the words like feed, content, or newspaper.
How to avoid blocking friendly bots:
- The Google bot’s hostname is crawl-X.googlebot.com, and X is the bot’s IP. Any hostname with the word “google” but not googlebot.com may be fake.
- Bot of the pages you have created bookmarks or backlinks, the bot name will often contain the website name or domain name. Which page you create bookmarks or backlinks on, you remember to compare.
Step 3: Go to Wordfence→ Blocking→ Custom Pattern to add a command.
Method 10: Add Watermark to Images
One way to prevent image theft is to add a watermark to your images. You can use a WordPress watermark plugin.
There are detailed articles on how to automatically add a watermark to an image in WordPress that give you step-by-step instructions
There are three incomes from watermarking your images:
- They won’t use your image, and it will be protected
- They try a photoshop app which decreases the image quality
- They use your photo with a watermark, which gives your work credit, and the audience will know the creator.
Method 11: Manually Ask Google to index Your Articles After Publish
One way to prevent content scraping is to ensure that search engines, like Google, index your articles as soon as they are published.
Here are the steps to manually ask Google to index your articles:
Step 1: Go to Google Search Console.
Step 2: Paste the new article URL into the search box and check the URL.
Step 3: Click on Request indexing.
It’s important to note that this method does not guarantee that Google will index your article immediately, but it can speed up the process.
Also, it’s a good idea to use Instant Indexing For Google plugin, which indexes posts once you publish them.
Another tip is that you can also submit your sitemap to Google using the “Sitemaps” feature in the Search Console.
This will help Google find and index all the pages on your website, including your newly published articles.
How to Take Advantage of Content Scrapers
While content scraping is a very useful tool, there are other uses that can be made of it.
Here are five tips for doing so:
1. Use the copied content to improve your search engine rankings:
Duplicate content may result from scraping your website’s content, which increases the likelihood that search engines will index it and lower your site’s ranking as a result.
But you can let search engines know which version of the content is the original and ought to be given preference by using a canonical tag.
2. Use scraped content as a form of free advertising:
If your content is being scraped, it means that a wider audience is seeing it. You can use this to your advantage by including links back to your site within the scraped content.
3. Use scraped content as a way to generate backlinks:
If your content is being scraped, it’s likely to contain links back to your site since backlinks are a crucial component of search engine optimization.
This can help to increase your site’s visibility and search engine rankings.
4. Use scraped content as a way to generate leads:
If your content is being scraped, it’s likely that it will include a link back to your site. You can use this as an opportunity to generate leads by including a call-to-action within the scraped content.
5. Use scraped content as a way to establish yourself as an authority in your industry:
If your content is being scraped, it’s likely that a large audience is seeing it, and you can take advantage of this by including your contact information within the scraped content to position yourself as an authority in your field.
In this article, I talked about content scraping, why you need to present content scraping, how to disable content theft, and alternative methods to protect your content.
Use WPShield Content Protector, which ensures your content is safe and can prevent content scraping with its unique features.
Thank you for reading this article till the end. Please let me know if you know any alternative methods to prevent content scraping and if you have any experience with your content getting stolen.
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