At some point in time you’re going to deal with a client who is going to hand you “research” and expect you to spin copy magic from it. It will probably be the fallout of a web project from which the client originally said they will write the copy themselves in order to keep costs down and “get the message right.” The copy will probably be copied from another site.
“Isn’t that what copy is?” and other excuses of the like will flood your ears like dissidence.
Let those go. Don’t get mad. Naivete still runs rampant in the industry.
Roll with it. Smile. Rewrite it. Document resources. Get paid.
As Seth Godin would probably suggest, “ship” it and move on.
But then there will be those who claimed to have written their own copy, but a few long tail Google searches reveals that either:
1) there’s a cosmic coincidence in writing styles
or more likely
2) they scraped it from another site.
3) they “templated” the content from their competitor’s website, swapping out a few words along the way to make it appear, “original.”
Situations like these are dicey. Money is always good, but search engines like integrity, especially if you’re doubling as their web hosting. And in SEO, integrity – especially with web-savvy clients – is everything.
Here are a few things I’d recommend in situations where the client is trying to pass of scraped content as there own.
Let me know if you’d do otherwise.
1) Offer to write the copy in a more “web-focused, keyword-rich,” format.
2) Do keyword research. There’s a great chance that your research doesn’t align with their content because the data is ever-changing.
3) Point out that such similar content will hurt branding because it will not allow you to stand out.
If they get persistent, try these couple tricks:
1) Argue the styling. Let them know the style is not in their best interest. (“Who uses passive voice anyway?”)
2) Offer to A/B test the copy against other landing pages.
If that doesn’t work, then you have a choice to make.
1) Keep with the client.
2) Let the client go.
If you keep the client and you know the client is scraped, then I would recommend the following:
1) Switch their web hosting to a generic, cheap, 3rd party provider. And let the client know why you prefer this method
2) Take your branding offer the footer (if you designed it)
3) Pretend it never happened.
When stuck in such cases of blatant content scraping, would you do different?
(photo credit: Torley via Flickr)