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.