Whether you are a funeral celebrant, a wedding celebrant or an officiant of the many other life event ceremonies, it is great to raise your profile and see your website on the first page of Google. But is seeing your celebrant blog published word for word on another website a good thing or a bad thing? Here are the pros and cons of reporting another website that is using your content for their own marketing.
Backlinks to your celebrant blog
The majority of celebrants write their own content based on personal experiences. Officiants put a lot of time and effort into writing a celebrant blog packed with SEO in order to attract traffic to their site and raise their own profile.
When a bigger, respected, trusted website like one of the big wedding magazine sites for example, pick up on your blog and mention it with a backlink this proves to search engines like Google that if that site trusts your content as valid, authentic and relevant, then Google can too.
Backlinks are good for the SEO of your website!
A back link is most commonly a few words of text with a hyperlink to your website URL followed by a slash and the name of your blog.
For example, this coloured text is a backlink. The hyperlink text behind the highlighted words looks like this:
The website is “websolutions.com” and the blog is “what-to-do-when-someone-steals-your-online-content”
What if my blog address is changed?
There are some wedding websites like www.weddingcelebrantasia.com (note how this text does not link because I do NOT want this site to benefit from a backlink) that use third party processes to automatically vacuum up any content with celebrant and wedding related keywords and republish them to their own website – BUT they change the URL.
They take out your website address and replace it with their own. This is known as changing the canonical link or address.
- For example, my website is celebrantspain.es
- I wrote a blog called secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding
- The original code on my website directed search engines to the blog on my website like this
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://celebrantspain.es/secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding/” />
- weddingcelebrantasia.com took my blog content, put their own website address in front and changed the canonical address like this
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://weddingcelebrantasia.com/secrets-to-a-successful-small-wedding-celebrant-spain/” />
Is changing the canonical address good or bad?
Marketing and SEO expert Danielle Garber looked specifically at the content appropriated by weddingcelebrantasia.com with regards to blogs and profiles reproduced without prior authority from The Celebrant Directory and any impact that might have.
In a video Danielle made regarding duplicate content on the web (below), she wanted to reassure celebrants and allay their fears with regards to SEO.
Danielle says that as long as there is also a backlink on the post crediting the original source of the blog then it should not adversely affect the SEO of the original content – and might even benefit the original website from having a backlink.
However Danielle also said that taking content without permission is not only unethical but it is also illegal.
“He [weddingcelebrantasia.com] does not have any legal right to use it. It is your copyright”.
How can I protect my IPR?
With regard to your options when someone steals your intellectual property, Danielle Barber says first you can send a “cease and desist” notification to the offender stating that
- you own the copyright of the content (state the URL)
- the content has been copied without authorisation (state URL)
- you do not give permission for this content to be copied
- you want the copied content removed from the web
If the content is not taken down your next course of action is to come together with other affected celebrants and respond as a group asking that all affected content is taken down.
Ultimately you would need to consult a copyright lawyer re infringement of your intellectual property rights (IPR)
Real celebrant stories of protecting copyright
One celebrant colleague who has professional experience of copyright law and advises that the server of weddingcelebrantasia.com is located in the USA and as such is subject to US law. Both Thailand and the USA ,
” are signatories to TRIPS, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which has virtually overtaken all other agreements and spells out enforcement etc. I suggest that a harsh email, pointing out that he [weddingcelebrantasia.com] is in breech of TRIPS and that, unless he immediately removes the content AND sends you a dated apology and confirmation that the content has been removed, you will make application to have his whole website taken down as per US law.”
A second celebrant who has had website successfully taken down says,
“I have had websites removed from the web because of copyright infringement.
Step 1 ask them to remove the stolen material. When they don’t you call their web hosting provider.
Step 2 tell them you have a problem with copyright infringement on one of their sites. (Stating the specific URL)
Step 3 they remove the site from the web until it [the duplicate content] is removed.
Additional advice to protect your content in the future is
- Put the easily recognisable copyright symbol (c) on your dynamic footer (i.e. the footer at the bottom of every page on your website)
- Add a statement that you assert your moral right to be identified as the author of the content
- Add your name and the copyright symbol adjacent to the date under the title of each and every blog post
Unauthorised content published to social media
It doesn’t just stop at the websites though! The automatic third party process used by weddingcelebrantasia.com also publishes the copied funeral or wedding celebrant content to its social media.
I have found photos from styled wedding shoots that are subject to contract with specific requirements regarding proper crediting of suppliers plastered over Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn without any proper credit.
Quite possibly they are also reproduced without authorisation on Twitter and Pinterest too, but I have not trawled those platforms…. yet!
In general, look for the three dots next to a post you want to have taken down and click [REPORT]
The options are different depending on which platform you are using, but you should be able to denounce the offender eg on Instagram you can report an “Intellectual Property Violation”.
How can I find out if my celebrant content is affected?
This is not just affecting wedding celebrants, it is affecting funeral celebrants too – and in all corners of the world.
Here are some web address you may find useful to check if you have been affected – not linked for obvious reasons 😉
28 pages of random celebrant content: https://weddingcelebrantasia.com/celebrant-news/
Why have I taken the time to write this information into a blog?
Because I thought the ultimate irony would be that if I packed it with enough wedding celebrant and funeral celebrant keywords and phrases that the SEO might attract the “automatic third party process” of wedding celebrant asia who might vacuum up this content and reproduce it without authorisation 1) so I can prove my point and 2) to bite him on the bum with his own unethical greed.
Author bio: Debbie Skyrme is Celebrant Spain. Helping destination wedding couples by officiating elopements, vow renewals and wedding ceremonies in the Spanish sunshine