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Defending Against Content Scraping with Rel=Author

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When the first Panda update was issued, one of the problems it highlighted was duplicate content. Many sites found themselves in the unenviable position of having published original content, only to have it scraped. They were then penalized by Google for having duplicate content.  There are different ways to avoid this, such as adding a ping, and Google’s relatively new feature, rel=author, can also help.  How do you implement rel=author and slow down the scrapers?

When you are the verified author of a piece of content, it has much more credibility, both with search engines and with users.  Rel=author also marks the content as yours; if someone scrapes it, they are left holding the duplicate content because the byline tells Google that the author and the domain do not match up.  It is, then, unverified.  What if the spammers take out the byline and author page link?  Google can see that this was removed and will recognize that it is spam.

Rel=author has a host of benefits, but many sites are not taking advantage of the tool.  This is one easy step that can help Google identify spammers, ensure your content is your content, and increase visibility and click-through. Google has made it a bit easier by linking it with Google+, so if your business is already a user, get started:

  1. The goal here is to create three specific links: one from your content to your author page; one from your author page to your Google+ profile page; and the last from your Google+ profile page back to your author page.
  2. Set up an author page.  It can have a brief bio, photo, experience and/or CV, or any other information you’d like to provide.  Say you have all this great content already on Facebook; why not just link to that as your author page?  This will pop up as unverified to Google because your author page has to be on the same domain as the actual content.  What you can do, though, if you are the only content producer for your site is just use your existing About page.
  3. In your Google+ profile, Goto> edit profile > about.  Enter your name and link to your content site.  Check the option that indicates that this “page is specifically about me.” Save.
  4. Link your content to Google+.  To do this, you can install a plain text link in the footer or elsewhere on the page or install a Google+ button (which might behoove you to do anyhow).
  5. Link your byline name on your content to your author page or to Google+.  For example: <a href=http://www.randomwebsite.com/your-name”rel=author”>Your Name</a>
  6. Check your author markup with the rich snippets testing tool to check each page.
  7. Visit Google’s new guidelines if you have any difficulty; these instructions have been simplified and can help you troubleshoot.

Implementing rel=author does much more than defend your content against scraping. It could help you reach a broader audience and gain more visibility and credibility for your site/blog.

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