Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bloggers How To Defend Against Content Scrapers


example of content theft from sugarpuffish blog




The problem with blogging is no one gives you a handbook when you create your blog. Even after three years I am still learning the ropes. I wanted to share a problem I discovered and had not seen discussed in the community. I figured if I don't know then there is a good chance others are in the same boat.

Every now and again, I have a quick Google search for my blog and glance over how I am ranking on pages. Last week I noticed two URLs that were cause for concern (pictured above). My posts are appearing on another site, which in turn will draw traffic away from my blog. This makes for one very grumpy Sarah! I spent over an hour researching how I could get the site reported and in doing so uncovered the term "Scraped Content". People who "Scrape" content use automated software that takes blog content from your RSS feed and posts it to their site like it is a new post. 

There is not much you can do to prevent scraping but there are steps which could limit the damage it causes. These are tips I have collected from reading other articles.

Contact
I found this option tricky because the website that has taken my content provides no information. You can use Whois Lookup to find the domain registrar/web host and get in contact with them.

Report to Google
Firstly, submit a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice to Google (click here). By submitting this form you are letting Google know the breach of copyright and asking for the website to be removed. A DMCA notice is the official route but I also uncovered this form (click here) allowing you to report the scraper site. I understand this will not get content removed but allows Google to gather information and we can only hope that it aids prevention of scraping in the future.

RSS Feed
There are two options available when it comes to your RSS Feed, either shorten the post or add a footer (you can’t do both). In your Dashboard (pictured below) change “Allow Blog Feed" from FULL to SHORT then only the first 400 characters of your blog post are visible, making it less attractive to a content thief. It shouldn't put off regular readers because they can still click through to the post and read it in full. The alternative is to add a footer which includes a link to your blog and/or social media. Use this code <hr /> <a href="http://www.myblog.com">My Blog Name</a>







You can see from my screen shot I added a short copyright message. Remember your message will be visible to genuine readers of your RSS Feed so keep it polite. The idea behind adding the RSS footer is it will be seen on the scraper site so readers are aware content has been stolen.

Submit URL to Google
I stumbled across an article about submitting your post URL to Google as soon as you publish. This may help your post index quicker than the scraper website. It's all to do with the way Googlebots crawl the internet. This post explains how to submit your URL click here and this video from Google is also worth viewing click here.

Set up Google Authorship
I still haven't got my head around this one because it involves Google+ and linking it to your blog. There are plenty of tutorials out there. I understand that Authorship doesn't prevent theft but it helps build credibility and allows Google to identify your content as original.

Google Alerts
A number of sites suggest using Google Alerts (click here) to find copied content. The suggestion is to set up an alert using keywords or your blog title or a paragraph from your post. You then decide what types of website to search and how often you want a report. For those that publish to their blog regularly, I envisage that your inbox would soon be overflowing so you may not like this method in the long run.

Watermark Images
This is debatable whether it is worth your efforts. I'm not a fan of watermarking because photographs can easily be cropped and marks removed. However, I imagine when it comes to scraping it could be favourable if content is automatically stolen and not edited.

I hope this blog post has been helpful. We may not be able to stamp out scraping but at least use it to your advantage. If you have a blog on Wordpress it looks like you have some plug in options, I suggest researching as I'm only familiar with Blogger. Have you experienced content theft? How did you deal with it? 


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Monday, 21 July 2014

My Holy Grail Products (Video)


I had a request to film a video about my Holy Grail products/brands. I planned to do this eventually to coincide with my Natural Blogger Holy Grail Series (so far there are eight posts). I have a long list of products I repeat purchase and you may recognise them if you are reading my blog on a regular basis.

Here are the products mentioned in my video. I split them into catergories and linked my reviews.
  • Hair - Giovanni Flat Iron Styling Mist, Desert Essence Red Raspberry Conditioner, Odylique by Essential Care Gentle Herb Shampoo 
  • Face - *Odylique Superfruit Serum, Blue Labelle Cleansing Oil for Dry/Sensitive Skin
  • For Eczema - *Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream, Suvana Paw Paw & Honey Balm, Balmology Comfort Balm
  • Everyday - Fresh Therapies Nail Polish Remover, Dr Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap, Everyday Minerals Semi Matte foundation (colour Rosy Beige 3C)



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Disclaimer - products marked * are PR samples but I have every intention to repurchase when I use them up 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Older, Wiser and Lovelier (feat. Cookies & Scream)


Cookies and Scream Camden, London
I have one rule for my Birthday, if it falls on a work day I book the day off. There is no way I am sitting in an office, I want to be out having fun. Birthdays should also include ice cream and cake (and sometimes jelly). 

This year my Birthday wish was to have a day out that included a restaurant/cafe stop where I could have the freedom to eat what my heart desired. The first place that sprang to mind was Cookies & Scream in Camden London. I knew this place would be awesome because my lovely friend Nicola (@N1C79_EATS) has mentioned it may times.

Cookies & Scream is located within the Dingwalls gallery area of the Camden Lock market. Every product is dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free and the baked goods are made fresh on site. I was overwhelmed by choice and it took me ages to decide but in the end I went for a Salted Caramel Milkshake and Peanut Butter Chico. Oh boy, oh boy that milkshake was more like an ice cream sundae. I was slurping it down for quite some time but the warm weather was helping the ice cream to melt quickly. The cookie was delicious, soft and moist (can be warmed before serving but I declined). I never would have guessed it was gluten free, even my boyfriend enjoyed a couple of mouthful and gave positive feedback. Lets be honest, I was on a unrefined sugar high for the rest of the day. My eyes were bigger than my belly, I left feeling over indulged and slightly queasy (but in a good way). Cookie & Scream also serve Tea Pigs, Espresso, Americano, Soya Latte and Macchiatos if you're not a milkshake lover.

I had never been to Camden before and the whole experience was awesome. I did not realise it was a rabbit run of market stalls. I can understand why it is a tourist hot spot. You need to be prepared for the crowds, even on a Friday it was pretty busy. If you have Vegan/Veggie, Dairy free or Gluten free dietary needs, click here for suggestions of stalls that may cater for you. Obviously, anyone with allergies/intolerances needs to tread carefully and ask questions. Cookies & Scream display an allergy information notice at their bar. I would suggest that anyone with a soya or nut allergy will probably not find it suitable.

I put together a little video of my day out which also features dairy free sorbet which I randomly came across at Westfield mall.




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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Natural Beauty Blogger Holy Grail Products No.8


Inika Foundation Balm Balm Cleansing Balm
The gorgeous Chesca of Fern & Moss agreed to take part in my series about Blogger Holy Grails. I love Chesca's blog because she has excellent taste in natural and organic skincare and is passionate about good ingredients. She recently took an amazing Californian Road Trip and you all know I'm a keen traveller so I loved reading about her holiday.  Here is what Chesca has to say about her favourite products.

Balm Balm Frankincense Deep Cleansing Balm 
I think I'm in love with this cleansing balm. I've never used a product that has made my skin so much better in such a short space of time as this has, and I can't use anything else. 100% organic and blended with a variety of beautiful oils, it draws dirt and impurities out of the skin, but whilst still retaining moisture and nourishing your skin to keep it plump and healthy. It includes calendula oil to sooth skin, grapefruit oil to refresh and frankincense to rejuvenate (as well as give it that beautiful scent). I have very breakout prone skin, but this has kept my skin clear and free of spots for the first time in my life. At only £7.99 it's amazing value, and I usually buy two at a time so I know I'll never run out. I highly, highly recommend Balm Balm products. They are an amazing company with wonderful ethics and even better products.

Inika Mineral Powder Foundation with SPF 15
Once you use a good mineral powder foundation, it's easy to become addicted to how good it makes your skin feel. This one from Inika is easily a rival for the more conventional Bare Minerals Foundation. It has excellent coverage but is very light, feeling like a second skin yet still covering up redness and uneven skin tone. I apply this with a medium powder brush, and it gives an airbrushed finish with a healthy, natural glow. It doesn't mattify my skin as it's not a pressed powder, and instead softens my skin, looking better than a liquid foundation does on photographs. Made without bismuth oxychloride, it's a genius blend of mineral pigments with the added benefit of SPF 15. Inika are another brand who have incredible ethics, whilst also making amazing organic make up that rivals that of conventional cosmetics companies.

I am a huge fan of Balm Balm products but so far I have not tried anything from Inika. What about you? Do you like these brands or are they on your wish list?


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