I love Google Alerts to find out when someone has stolen my content. It’s a great tool that is completely free and will warn you when someone copies your articles. But in order to be useful for catching plagiarists and content thieves, you have to set up your Google Alert properly.
Using Vanity Google Alerts for Name and Blog
It’s common for bloggers and those active in the social media arena to use Google Alerts for what are known as “vanity alerts”. This means the blogger creates Google Alerts to search for their name, and their blog name. For example my vanity alerts search for AngEngland, Angela England and Untrained Housewife (which yields some interesting results by the way).
Creating Google Alerts to Catch Stolen Blog Posts
When you create a google alert to monitor your content you want to set them up a little differently. Take a unique sentence from your blog post or article and make THAT statement your search parameter.
BUT (here’s the really important part) be sure to use quotation marks around the unique sentence or you’ll get total spam and unrelated results. So for example, if I were creating a google alert for this post I would put a unique sentence from the middle of the post in quotes and it would look like this: “For example my vanity alerts search for AngEngland, Angela England and Untrained Housewife (which yields some interesting results by the way).”
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1-Take your sentence from the middle or middle-end of the post. Content thieves will often rewrite the title and intro paragraph and then cut and paste everything else over.
2-Search everything – News, blog posts, etc so you can catch plagiarism of your content in any location. I’ve found my articles published on college websites, customer newsletters, EBay sales pages….everywhere.
3-Don’t forget to use quotation marks so the search results will yield exact matches only. This will prevent your inbox from being flooded.
4-Once you’ve created your Google Alert, search Google.com using that same sentence IN QUOTATION MARKS to catch any current theft (this would apply to posts more than an hour old) since google alerts will only catch additional plagiarism moving forward from the time you create the alert.
Using google alerts can be a great way to monitor your blog posts for stolen content and help you fight plagiarism of your work. It’s an epidemic but there’s a lot you can do to stop thieves in their tracks. Tomorrow I’ll post how to handle things when you’ve found someone has taken your blog post or article.
Mel @ Trailing After God says
Thank you! I didn’t even know about google alerts until your post yesterday. Feel like I’ve been living in the dark! 🙂 This is important info to know!
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God
Sue Anne Reed says
Content from our work website gets plagarized *a lot* — both the entire article and lots of people doing the first paragraph and then linking to our page to try and get some SEO juice. Given how much original content we do, that’s to be expected.
In addition to knowing if (and where) your content is being copied, there are things you can do to make it a win for you. Every first paragraph of any blog you write, should include a link back to another post on your blog. Our healthy & green team is great at this, and that means any copy that is copied has the potential of bringing traffic back to our site.
Thank you for that very informative post. I had no idea about Google Alerts. I can’t wait to read your next article on that subject!
Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig says
Great resource! I love Google alerts for all kinds of reasons, and mention them in my beginning blogging class. Alerts can help with more than plagiarism – I like to see when others have mentioned a post or blog of mine, then when I go and interact with them, I gain a new reader/friend! 🙂
Yes absolutely Stacey – and I think that is how most people think to use them. To find out “who’s talking about them” in the web. But by adding a google alert with specific sentences in quotes, from your most popular posts, you’ll be sure to find out if/when someone lifts your content.
Sara @Happy Brown House says
Ok, so do you set up a google alert for every post that you write? Any suggestion on how to go back and set up alerts on old blog posts quickly?
I will generally do my top blog posts in any given site to make sure my most popular content is being protected. I think Google has a limit of 300 or 400 alerts? I’ve maxed mine out so will protect seasonally popular content or my most popular/signature pieces.
Mommy Reporter says
This is so good!!!! I never thought to use Google Alerts for this but now I will… thanks so much for posting!!!
Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting says
Way to freakin’ go, love this! I stumbled it and will refer people to this. This is a MUST for writers online!
Thanks Lisa – I appreciate the stumbles and shares! 🙂
Gena Morris says
I would have never thought to do this. Thanks Angela. You are so clever!
Wow! I have been using Google Alerts for the norm… Chele Chestnut, Bona Fide Life… never thought of doing a sentence from my post! Thank you so much! So very helpful! 🙂
This is great Ang. Thank you. I saw this on my phone when I woke up and tweeted it out real quick NOT realizing how my tweet looked. lol If I caused any scare to people I apologize. http://twitter.com/thehomespunlife/status/39716650139779072 I didn’t mean it the way some took it. :/ yikes! I MEANT the article is by Ang. I considered deleting my tweet, but… *giggle* maybe you’ll get additional hits from unethical bloggers thinking they have something juicy to sink their teeth into, to come and find out they could get chin checked for their plagiarism. haha
ok so my question for your article is this.. now when you DO find that someone has taken content, how do you proceed. Secondly, when you discover it’s a fellow blogger and they refuse to remove it. :/
darcy @ m3b says
I’ve now Tumbld and tweeted this post! Great information, Ang.
Because of this post I’ve found two blogs who are stealing my content. I’ve now reported them to Google so they don’t usurp my page rank for that content and get me docked for dups.
Thanks for this!
Great tip, but how do I do this automatically for every page in my blog? I find it kinda manual and time consuming to paste a sentence for every single post.. there’s gotta be an easier way.. is there?
You can subscribe to something like Copyscape but it’s a paid service for automatic scanning. Doing it one-time manually to set up means that Google will automatically scan for copied content on an on-going basis for you. I usually set them up once a week or once a month and just go through all my latest posts from that time frame.
Katie Cross says
Wow! Great tips. Thanks for the advice. I’m going to go do it now!
Great article! I’m going to do set this up for my websites and encourage my husband to do the same for his.
How did I not know about this?!?! Thanks so much, I now have Google alerts set up for my blog.
Anna Szoke says
Such an useful post, I’m starting to set up those alerts right now!