Should You Let Scrapers Link to Your Blog?

theft.jpgInbound links that point to your blog are liquid gold on the Internet. The more links you have, the better for your page rank and so-called authority. But some links aren’t worth having, in my mind.

Curious souls that we are, Harry and I always head over to visit the blogs that link to us. We like to see what the post brings up and why the author linked to our blog – and how. We thank the blogger and sometimes contribute to the discussion.

Recently, though, I’ve been getting lots of link love that I don’t want.

Spam blogs are scraping a few paragraphs from our RSS feed and reposting the content on their site. Nothing new there; content theft is a fairly common issue on the Internet.

We deal. We don’t freak out, shut down our blog with chains, locks and bulldogs. We don’t cut off our readers to fight content theft. We fight it by showing thieves they haven’t held us back at all – we operate normally. All systems go.

Lately, we’ve found some odd types of spam in our filters. We receive notice of inbound links – that liquid gold – pointing straight to our site. So we hop on over, and find ourselves reading our own work on a camera site, or a Christian site, or a site about dogs. Spam blogs.

Odd. What’s even odder is that the posts point right back to our site. Huh? Scrapers are giving us link love?

I contacted Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today with some questions. He’s a really great guy and smart as a whip about plagiarism, copyright issues, content theft and more. He even knew what was going on in Canada, which is more than I can say for many people out there.

I wanted to have a better understanding of what was going on and how concerned I should be about the spam blogs and linking. This kind of content theft was unfamiliar to me. Jonathan’s explanation was interesting – and concerning:

The reason is two-fold. First, they’re hoping to avoid any copyright disputes. By taking only a few paragraphs and providing attribution, they’re hoping that bloggers, such as yourself, won’t push the issue or won’t have a case.

Second, they’re hoping to trick the search engines since this is a way to display duplicate content without taking the usual penalty.

Jonathan brought up the real moral issue of the matter:

Most bloggers are so link hungry that they will go along with it and many feel that the inbound links are worth putting up with the spam. Of course, the problem is that for the links to count the sites have to be indexed in the search engines and, if that happens, they are competing for the exact same terms you are, but with greater concentration.

Basically, it is like someone ripping your arm off and beating you over the head with it but you allow it because they also shook your hand.

I find it incredibly sad that many bloggers are probably going to allow these links to point to their site. I was tempted to let them go myself – we lost the PR 4 we had before we moved domains. We’re working to rebuild it, but it’s slow, hard work to get natural links.

However, Harry and I have high standards of business ethics. We operate with strong morals and we apply our values. We want to earn our reward the proper way – with integrity and honor.

Unfortunately, not everyone upholds the same principles we do. Plenty of people just want money. They want to take advantage of others. They don’t care how they get their fame and riches. They just want it. Period.

So they slap up a blog and pull their schemes off. Some blogs are absolute crap. Some are new blogs struggling to get readers. Some just have bad content. Link love, no matter where it comes from, could look pretty good to someone like that.

I’ve also learned that plenty of people carry the piss-poor attitude of saying, “If it isn’t affecting you, why should you care?”

Well, I do care. I don’t want these links. I want to earn my reputation, not barter it with shady deals. I don’t want scrapers to tempt me with a Pandora’s box – I can find my own temptations, thanks.

Here is how Jonathan suggested handling the issue of getting rid of spam blogs that link to you:

Visit or Type in the URL of the spam blog and see if you can find the host of the site.

Visit the host’s website and report the blog as a spam blog. Most hosts have abuse policies and honor them.

Avoid the whole scraped content and copyright issue during this first contact. Most hosts will remove the spam blog and that’s that. If you mention copyright issues, the hosts may start asking for DMCA forms and backup, and that tosses the headache back in your court.

If the host doesn’t remove the blog, you need to decide whether you feel strongly enough to file a DMCA and fight for your rights or let it go. There is plenty of information on DMCA forms and how to go about filing them on Jonathan’s site, so I won’t repeat a how-to here.

I’ve composed a template letter that I’ve already started to use. It’s just a quick form that says I’ve found a spam blog and that provides the host with the URL. I mention that I know the host has abuse policies and that I hope they remove the blog in question. I also ask them to let me know, and I sign off.

That’s it. That’s all that’s needed. Now we wait and see if I get any results from the letters I’ve sent and the reports I’ve filed.

But the bigger question is… Would you let someone shake your hand while they beat you over the head with your arm?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. The Word Wrangler says:

    Super post, James. My blog is fairly new and is just starting to gain some steam. I recently got hit by one spam blogs and really didn’t know what to do about it, or even what to think about it. But you’re absolutely right. We all need to strive for high quality, natural links to our sites rather than spam traffic.

  2. I’m glad you posted this, James. I have this happen to me all the time and was wondering what to do about it. I don’t like having my content scraped, whether it’s a whole post or a couple of paragraphs. I have also been flagging scraper sites with Google, using a link on the Adsense boxes.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Taking Criticism: Are You A Dinosaur?

  3. I’ve gotten some crazy pingbacks from sites that are scraping a Problogger article that referenced me an I wasn’t sure how to handle it.

    So you’re saying that if my comments show pingbacks from those blogs, that impacts my blog negatively?

    Dave Navarro – Freelance Smackdown!’s last blog post..Freelance Smackdown – Did It Blend?

  4. There are websites and blogs that offer reprint rights to their contents, provided there is an attribution to the original source.

    What’s your take on this?

    Is it considered scrapping or spamming?

  5. This has been on my mind for a while, too, because this practice doesn’t seem (operative word, there) as out-right fraudulent and stealing entire posts without giving credit, and yet, at the same time, it’s still stealing. And all the work of fixing the problem falls to the victim. At least in the real world, when somebody steals, you (should) have a police department that will try to run the thief down for you–but on the internet? Nobody can hear you scream.

    –Deb’s last blog post..Guesting

  6. @ Sonu – It’s generally accepted that reprinting with full credit and byline as well as a link back to the blog where the content came from is fine – both partial reprinting or full reprinting. Always check to see if there are copyrights to the work (our work has an All Rights Reserved) and it’s considered very good form to send a quick email to the person in question to ask permission or to let them know.

    Personally, someone who reprints or quotes us WITH VALID REASON and provides both a link and byline isn’t someone we consider a scraper or spammer. That’s our take on it, and some bloggers/writers feel differently. Always check first.

    @ Dave – I wouldn’t say that pingbacks in general affect your blog negatively. Many blogs show their pingbacks to display that others are talking about them. It can be a good thing – depending on who is doing it and why.

    The pingbacks we’re receiving hit our spam filter immediately so they don’t show up (and we don’t display pingbacks anyways). If we allowed them, they would boost our PR, so in essence, they are “good” for our blog.

    But do you really want to know your PR got its boost from spammers benefiting from scraping your stuff and not from natural linking?

    @ Sharon – Good on you for reporting it. Unfortunately, plagiarism happens and so does scraping and content theft. Dealing with it calmly and appropriately is the way to go, as you are.

    A lot of bloggers and writers panic and start fighting back with tactics that actually cut off the good readers. Partial feeds is one way – and they’re bloody annoying. Kind of stupid to alienate the readers you want to fight off the scrapers you don’t.

    @ Wrangler – Ayup. I’ve always wanted to earn my rewards the honest way. If I didn’t, I’d ditch this crazy life and sell pot for a living.

  7. @ Deb – That’s the problem with this type of scraping. It benefits bloggers. It boosts their PR. It gets them the liquid gold link love they need and want. And it screws them over with a smile.

  8. Agreed, James. On balance, I’d rather keep the real readers happy and be creative about fighting spammers and sploggers. Partial feeds are one of my pet peeves – if I’m reading in a feed reader, then I WANT to see the whole post.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..The View From My Office

  9. Michael Martine, Blog Consultant says:

    Great overview of the issues, James. I really don’t care about scrapers. They’re not worth my time for any potential harm they might do. Most scraper sites aren’t around long enough to do any damage or boost your PR, either one.

    Really popular blogs are scraped in unbelievable amounts, and it doesn’t affect them negatively, so I just don’t worry about it as my own blog grows. I know my content is being scraped more and more often, but it does not affect me. My authority and ranking in search is and will always be so much greater than the scrapers that there’s no way they can compete with me for my own terms. Scrapers come and go. My growth is constant.

    I’m not saying that everyone should adopt my attitude about this, I’m just sharing my point of view. Thanks again for writing this–your passion always comes through!

    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant’s last blog post..Moving from to Self-Hosted WordPress in Plain English

  10. To be very, very, very honest, had they written “James wrote this” instead of “Ethel Birkingstone wrote this,” I probably would’ve shrugged, muttered, “Dumbass” and gone on with my life. Like you say, it’s often not worth my time to get my knickers in a twist over.

  11. *sigh*… people these days. I had this happen last year… some idiot tried to use my content and the content of two other sushi blogs as his own. The other two blogs had a small number of feed readers at the time so they could easily change their feed without it impacting their readership too much, but I was at about 700 or 800 at the time, so unfortunately that means my stuff is still up there. I was kind of whatever with it, until he put up google ads. I don’t much like the idea of other people making money off of my work without my permission. I still haven’t gotten around to filing the copyright infringement thing with Google yet… it’s on my to-do list! (Stop procrastinating, Allison!)

    Allison’s last blog post..Unagi Asparagus Roll

  12. This has to be one of the most useful articles I’ve read on this in a while. I totally avoid this kind of thing, in part because I have read elsewhere that it can lead to getting sandboxed on Google. Not sure if that’s just urban blog legend, but I avoid it like the plague. I of COURSE want incoming links, but not from spam sites – I hate them with a passion.

    Thanks for this – gonna spread the word on this article. Keep it up guys!

    metroknow –’s last blog post..Did cereal make me fat? You decide

  13. “But the bigger question is… Would you let someone shake your hand while they beat you over the head with your arm?”


    Seriously though, my little blog has only been running for a short while, and I’ve even noticed this kind of thing. Buggers.

    (Whew! Finally got out of my meetings today. Something about “cover sheets on TPS reports.” Anybody seen my red stapler?)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the privilege of choice.

  14. Larry M. Lynch says:

    Great post that gets right to the heart of the question. I have enough problems with content theft and image stealing from my blogs to truly understand what damage can be done. No original content creator should hold still for what the scrapers are doing. If enough of us stand up on an ongoing basis, perhaps they’ll get the message and seek out meeker targets or find a new “business” entirely. is an online search to check for violations of use of my content and images.

    Prof. Larry M. Lynch

  15. I meant to do this earlier but got caught up. So now I need to catch my breath and apologize before digging in. Sorry for being late tot his conversation!

    @The Word Wrangler: Let me know if I can help you in any way, if there’s something I can do I’ll gladly assist!

    @Sharon: Though it’s a good idea to flag using the Adsense boxes, it doesn’t work with scrapers since Google demands a DMCA notice to deal with such sites. THe process is pretty trivial, but it can be intimidating at first. Once again, let me know if I can help!

    @Dave: I agree with James on this one. It is your choice but typically I would not support sites that are scraping another. They really aren’t adding much to the article on your site as they aren’t a new reference and it is generally best to promote the original as much as possible. That is just my opinion though.

    @Sonu: Every copyright holder has to make their choice. Most don’t mind if someone copies an article with appropriate attribution but the difference is that these are not humans doing the copying, but computers. They are doing it automatically and, most of the time, providing either incorrect or no attribution.

    @Deb: Good point. I can help some but this is a situation where we all have to watch our own backs…

    @Michael: Some blogs are naturally more resistant to the issue of scraping than others. Prominence, content, and SEO all seem to play a factor. I’ve seen some blogs get scraped just a few times and suffer deal in their search engine rankings and with their readers, others get scraped all of the time and feel nothing. TechCrunch, for example, gets scraped dozens of times over and even is outranked for some of their own articles in the blog search engines. They sruvive and thrive due to their brand.

    There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy here and that’s something I work with a lot of bloggers on.

    Thanks for your input!

    @Allison: Once again, let me know if I can help!

    @metroknow: To answer the question, I’ve seen sites get sandboxed for having too many incoming links from spammers, especially if they don’t maintain their comments and link back frequently. It isn’t common, but it has happened. The worse problem though is being pegged as duplicate content and being sandboxed that way, that is MUCH more difficult to handle.

    @Brett: Truth be told, it starts from the very first post on some blogs, I’ve even done experiments with that…

    @Larry: Agreed!

    @James; Great article and thank you very much for writing this as well as for the links! It is much appreciated!

    Jonathan Bailey’s last blog post..Attributor Talks About Search Economy

  16. Hi James,

    Thanks for the reply.


    Considering the issue of ‘Duplicate Contents’, why would authors allow reprint rights?

    Well, I’ve little or no idea of what a duplicate content is and why it is frowned upon by search engines.

    Guide us…


    P.S. I hope we’ld like to see a full fleged article or post on such issues, as duplicate contenta, spamming, scrapping and how search engines react to them.

  17. @ James: I’ve also noticed this behavior in the last few month and initially I got very upset. I even reported a site or two to Google but found that it wasn’t worth my effort. Because as soon as one site would disappear, three more would show up.

    I swear, these guys are worse than cockroaches and I HATE cockroaches. These days I just mark them as spam and move on.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..The Process of a Business Nip Tuck

  18. BTW, I just gave you a new PR 4 incoming link. You can send the check to

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..The Process of a Business Nip Tuck



    Lesson to all who move domains and use a 301 redirect. Your page rank will not follow you for a long time. People will think you’re a nobody when you’re not.

    Everyone, pretend that bar up there is full of green. Because it is. You just can’t see it. It should be. Google is fucking slow, that’s all I can say.

    That’s a great post, Monika, and I’m going to go read it twice because it’s fun enough that it might shake my major bad mood that GOOGLE IS HOARDING MY PR!


  20. Oh, on a funny side note?

    Harry and I were talking last night about the blatant cries for attention and inbound links going on recently around the internet to boost popularity. I won’t name names but I’m sure everyone lately has read posts about how writing quality isn’t important and how no one should work for less than $50 and how working for free via barter is a great idea.

    Or how someone (or someone, or someone else, or someone) is fishing for inbound links and attention because they’re just like Dooce and GASP they have SAD/anxiety disorder/depression. Guess what. I have about 48 anxiety disorders. Big deal. Everyone does. It’s caused by something called “too busy” and “real life”.

    So I was saying to Harry, “You know what? I want to earn my links honestly. No contest, no cry for attention, no major faked controversy just to get links… Jesus. Why don’t we just put up a sign saying that spam linkers are welcome, because they’re the ones who are LEAST likely to try some manipulative posting tactic and they just link. Period.”

    Tip for all bloggers: You are not Dooce. And if you want controversy shit to get inbound links, drop the “I’m a professional” facade and tell everyone you’re a gay crossdresser living in Alabama eating squirrel for breakfast and having children with your cousin while suffering from schizophrenia. You’ll get inbound links.

  21. Wow, that was quite the rant. I think I need more coffee.


    James, you crack me up!

    Thank you for this article. I, too, have been getting all of these crappy links… It’s amazing to know that there’s even a name for it.

    I’ve always assumed that there wasn’t a way to pursue this without spending waaaay too much time and effort. I like the process you outline; I’m curious to see if it will really work.

    Good stuff.

    Bob Younce’s last blog post..Banging My Gong – The Voice

  23. @ James – I’ll get the rocket fuel brewing… 😉 that *was* quite a rant, and I loved every word of it…

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the privilege of choice.

  24. So far, I’ve sent out about 20 notices. It takes seconds, literally. There’s no reason not to. If it took even a minute of my time, I’d be the first person to let it go (my time is precious, and I have no patience), but reporting the abuse is simple, really.


    Out of 20 notices, five have shlepped the problem back into my lap, asking for a DMCA. The thing is, the situation ISN’T about copyright to begin with (that comes after).

    It’s a spam blog, hosts have policies against spam blogs, and if they can’t figure out at a glance that the splog scraping one post every MINUTE (do you know how many posts that is?) is a splog, they have serious tech support issues. “Report abuse here,” they say, and okay, I do.

    “We need proof this is a spam blog.” Uh… okay. Open your eyes… take a long look… ask a buddy… maybe have a smoke and some coffee… that good?

    So. 20 notices, 5 DMCA requests and… 14 ignores. Not a word. Not a reply. No thank you. No autoresponder. Nothing.

    One host – just one – has thanked me and said they’ll look into the matter. One.

    It appears that hosts don’t give a crap either, as long as they’re being paid for the space. Lovely.

  25. @ James – they probably did have smoke… of the wacky stuff.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the privilege of choice.

  26. OMG James, that rant was awesome, especially the last paragraph. Gay crossdresser from Alabama?!?

    That’s disappointing about your results. *sigh*

    I bet there’s money in this. One good attorney who knows what they heck they’re doing with the DMCA could probably make a killing from folks like us who are sick and tired of the crap.

    Course, the only thing I hate worse than a thief is a lawyer, so I suppose I’m stuck.

    Bob Younce’s last blog post..Banging My Gong – The Voice

  27. @ James,

    Phew, what a rant. Man, I know exactly who we are talking about it here and I just luuuv you for writing this. Don’t worry my friends you will get your PR back and more. You guys really rock and that is why you have such a hungry crowd hanging on to every one of your words.

    Plus, with all the exposure you are getting through your comments and guest blogs you will be back on track soon enough.

    *she bows in respect for the greatness that is*

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..The Process of a Business Nip Tuck

  28. Wow, what a rant! It’s a shame hosts don’t pay more attention to these things. Kind of removes the incentive to do it, or it would, if it weren’t against the grain to let the sploggers get away with it.

    @Monika: love the new site, and that was a great post.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..A Writer’s Paradise?

  29. @ Sharon: thank you on both accounts. 🙂

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..The Process of a Business Nip Tuck

  30. Glad my pissy morning mood was good for something 🙂

    @ Sharon – I actually think it increases my motivation. I get all stubborn and think, “Oh yeah? Ignore me, will you?”

    @ Monika – I love you for the fandoration. Please. Don’t stop.

  31. @James, DAMN! Your funny side note was quite the little rant.

    You know, it didn’t occur to me until after I posted a rebuttal to the “crappy writing = great content” post that I had just fallen victim to major linkbait. But I’m not ashamed. Because the bottom line is that people who are in leadership roles should not be handing out poor advice. It really bothers me and I felt that someone needed to counter. I was more than happy to do it!

    As for Dooce, I love her blog and I don’t even know why. Of course nobody can be Dooce, or Problogger, or LOLCATZ (or whatever they’re called – icanhazcheesburger). But what we can learn from them is that sometimes when you do your own thing and do it your way, you can make it.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Improve Your Writing: Proofread, Edit, Repeat

  32. @ Jonathan – Thanks! Yeah, it’s easier than it looks… I finally got my butt in gear and finished the DMCA thingy. Now I just have to print it out, sign it, and send it in! *checks one thing off her to-do list*

    Allison’s last blog post..Naked Spicy Tuna Roll

  33. I can very well relate to this article. It does happen all the time. I am glad you have pointed these out.

    I have enjoyed reading this very insightful post. Very engaging and informative. Thanks for sharing.

    Aurelius Tjins’s last blog post..“I’m an Internet Marketer”

  34. I got the link to this post from Random Inkings and I’m so glad I did. I get these weird “scrapers” all the time and had no idea what they were. I knew they felt wrong, and I just deleted them. Thank you so much for explaining it. This is a great site, I’m really glad to have found it.

    Wendy’s last blog post..Part Two: Q&A Sunday – NASA

  35. @ Wendy and Aurelius – Welcome to both of you and we’re glad we could help. Looking forward to seeing you around more often!

    @ Melissa – I hadn’t realized I was about to fall prey until I had gathered my ideas for posts to write, sat down, and realized they were *all* about controversial posts from the same person… who, uh, seemed to be contradicting herself with every one.

  36. Today I followed an incoming link to my site that I found on Technorati. I posted “Step Out of Your Shoes” not ten hours ago and already a shoe selling splog seems to have linked up, but when I visited the link, I got the following message:

    The website you are trying to view has been suspended due to a breach of our Acceptable Use Policy.

    So, some hosts out there are doing the good work.

    @James, Hmm. Don’t even get me started.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Step Out of Your Shoes

  37. Hi James,

    Great post!

    The splogs have found my site as well. I was getting inundated with spam trackbacks and comments so I had installed SK2 — that ended up flagging legitimate posts. So I went back to Akismet. Although I need to manually approve some posts – it’s better than going through and sifting through the dozens of spam trackbacks and comments that I get.

    I haven’t taken the step of trying to shut the splog(s) down as yet – but if the amount of spam increases I’ll seriously need to look at doing just that.



    Mohamed’s last blog post..Making Money Online Is Like…

  38. @ Mohamed – Askimet rocks. Considering the number of hits we have overall to this site, having less than 10 spam hits per day is awesome. (Maybe the bots haven’t discovered us yet? Shhhh.)

    The splots seem to come and go. I try to shut down the ones I can, but I find the situation mostly tossed back in my lap by hosts, which is very stupid; they all have abuse policies and ask that people report stuff like this.



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