Content theft is hands down one of the biggest problems that content creators face online. With billions of data being transmitted and shared every second, is it even possible to protect your website content online?
There are certain ‘hacks’ people use to try and protect their website content, but many of them aren’t only useless, but might even affect your website negatively in more ways than one.
In this article, I will explain why these hacks don’t work, and how to protect your website content the fast, easy and reliable way using WordProof. It’s one of my favourite tools to fight against plagiarism, and is pretty much plug and play.
Whilst this post is more targetted to WordPress users, WordProof can also be used with other CMS-es such as: Drupal, Shopify, Joomla, Magento and Lightspeed e-Commerce. If you have an in-house developer, WordProof also has an API, so you can timestamp whatever you want!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small referral fee from them at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my small blog!
Why These Methods to Protect Your Website Content Don't Work
As a blogger or digital copywriter, you may have tried some ‘hacks’ to try and protect your website content. Or you may seen others doing so. Some of these so-called hacks include:
1. Disabling Text from Being Copied
I’m sure you’ve come across a website that flashes a ‘website content is copyrighted!’ when you tried to click on the content. ‘Whoa… It was an accidental click… please calm down.’
If people can’t click on or highlight your text, that means that they can’t copy and paste it elsewhere, right? At the very least, that should be a deterrent?
The truth is, your text is as easy to copy as before. Plus it’s taking up precious bandwidth on your website, slowing it down just that little bit more.
Give it a go to see what I mean. If something is rendered on screen, then it’s never really ‘hidden’ if someone wants to dig it out. In fact, digging things out is what I do at work just about every day.
How Disabling Text Hinders Genuine Promotion of Your Content
It’s annoying for genuine readers of your blog or website when they can’t copy your text. They want to re-share excerpts of your post to their social media, or quote you with a link back. Instead, they get told off.
There have been numerous times I’ve wanted to copy an excerpt from a post to share on my social media. But since I can’t copy any text, I forget about it. Minimal effort is important when you want others to promote your content online.
Sometimes I click on my ‘reader view’ Chrome extension, which is also readily available on any mobile device. The purpose of this extension is meant for improving readability of text online. But it also allows you to then copy text with ease (so that’s a ‘hack’ for you!).
Here’s a screenshot of what this post looks like using it:
2. Adding a Watermark all Over Your Images
It’s pretty common for others to steal infographics, images and even screenshots of your text. These are often re-shared on their own social media accounts, after they’ve chopped off your logo or branding. This practice is rampant on Instagram, sadly.
You could stamp your logo all over your images, but that pretty much defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? People want to see the image in all its glory!
You could also make it more tedious for content thieves to steal your images by: Slicing them up into ‘pieces’, using a CDN (content delivery network), or registering them.
The Perils of Complicating Your Images
These methods aren’t ideal however. They’re either not SEO-friendly or costly. And at the end of the day, content thieves know their way around and will steal your images regardless.
Plus, if they piece your graphic back together with good markup (alt tag, image name, etc), ‘their image’ is technically better than yours SEO-wise now. Isn’t that infuriating?
In any case, it’s hard to prove copyrighted work on social media as there are counteless regrams, retweets and memes. Many of them have been reprocessed, dissected, updated or mangled along the way. Which leads me to…
3. Enabling Pingbacks & Google Alerts
How in the world do these protect your website content online, you ask? You could think of it as if you were installing an online smoke detector system.
You’re probably a bit more familiar with pingbacks, as WordPress lets you select that option when you set it up. When it’s enabled, WordPress notifies you whenever someone links to a page or post of yours on their site.
Approving the pingback will create a hyperlink for the link back to the specific post or page. This works two-ways, as it allows other bloggers to receive notifications when you link to them as well.
You can enable pingbacks within WordPress under: Settings -> Discussion.
I subscribe to various topics that interest me on Google Alerts, such as ‘Antiphospholipid Syndrome’, ‘Lupus’, ‘SEO’ and ‘Linguistics’. I also subscribe for alerts to my own website – ‘achronicvoice.com’, ‘A Chronic Voice’ and ‘Sheryl Chan’.
This helps me to stay up to date with the latest news on these topics. It also alerts me whenever Google picks up mentions of my site or name during one of its routine crawls. I can then check out the page where my blog is being mentioned, and if it’s legitimate.
Bear in mind that these do not catch or filter everything that passes through the massive world wide web. They are a good starting point, however.
An Introduction to WordProof & Blockchain Technology
So finally, we come to WordProof. What is it and why do I love this tool so much? To quote from their website:
WordProof Timestamp combines mathematical algorithms with blockchain technology to protect your copyright.
Whoa… fancy, scary sounding words! What does math have to do with copyright, of all things?
Blockchain has been on the rise in popularity over the years, and can be applied to many industries. It has been used in finance, insurance and healthcare, to digital identities and sustainability.
At its most basic level, blockchain is a digital footprint of sorts. Every entry is recorded as a transaction. These transactions are immutable; they cannot be updated, modified or otherwise changed. The only way to ‘fix’ a mistake is to add on to the blockchain, thus leaving a ‘trail’.
I won’t dive into the nitty gritty of blockchain because, frankly, I’m new to it myself. It is also a topic that could – make that would – go on forever.
WordProof uses this same blockchain technology to help protect your content online. When you publish a post, a timestamp is added onto the blockchain. This offers: Copyright protection, a time machine, verifiable trust and structured data for SEO via schema.
What’s the Difference Between WordProof’s Timestamp and Regular Publishing Timestamps?
I’m sure you’ve meddled around with the published date of a post before, or considered doing so. Should you update the date if you’ve made a lot of content changes? Would that help your SEO?
What I’m trying to say here is that the published date set via WordPress can be changed with ease. You can set it to the current date and time, or backdate it whenever you want.
The problem with this is that stolen content can also set their own ‘published’ dates. For example, I recently saw two same articles on different websites that linked to my blog in a roundup.
The published dates were two months apart. But who knows which company really published it first? Which is the plagiarised content? The published date might not be accurate if they’re only relying on WordPress.
WordProof on the other hand, uses blockchain technology to add a timestamp, and outputs a certificate for traceability. This certificate, as mentioned above, cannot be modified, only added on to.
That means any revisions you make to your article from the very beginning are recorded. It doesn’t matter what you change in WordPress – the published date, content, URL, or even if you update the post with a single comma. They are all recorded under the same WordProof certificate whenever you update a post or page.
I like to leave the visibility option on, so that anyone can view the certificate at the end of my blog posts. This, to me, is the best deterrent of all.
How Do I Use WordProof?
All you need to do to get started is to set up a WordProof account, and install their WordPress plugin. From there, they will walk you through to help you get started.
It’s pretty much plug and play, especially if you select the ‘auto timestamp’ function. WordProof automatically generates a certificate whenever you publish a new post or page. All subsequent updates made to your content are reflected in the certificate as well.
What Can You Timestamp with WordProof?
Apart from articles, you can also timestamp images, videos and more. This can be especially important if you illustrate your own images or take your own photos.
As I mostly use templates from Adobe Spark or Canva, I try not to ‘waste’ my timestamps on images. Instead, I only timestamp articles I’ve written, so at least there’s a snapshot of what was there to begin with.
Don't Miss Out on These WordProof Bonuses
The best part about WordProof is that you get 10 free timestamps a month on the free plan. So I don’t see why any blogger wouldn’t use it to protect their content online.
We can discuss the workings of how to go about reporting stolen content in another article. But having a WordProof certificate is going to help win your case by a wide mile. There is hardly a better way to contest the originality of the content as it’s solid evidence online.
I am personally on WordProof’s life-time deal that I purchased via AppSumo. Depending on how often you publish new content, they have two plans available.
Those are pretty sweet deals if you ask me, especially if you have lots of catching up to do! Happy stamping, and feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!