I got an interesting email this morning. I was advised by a new website that they'd acquired a database of 36,000 articles...and they wanted to know if any of my content was within it.
So I visited the site and I found they had indeed 'acquired' some of my articles. No big problem at first blush - that's what article marketing is: you write great content and in exchange for someone else promoting your work, you get the bio box with active hyperlinks to your chosen webpage (great for increasing your web presence.)
However there was more to this - they were stealing my traffic and here's how they did it...
Generally publishing your article to an official article syndication site is safe, but there's always someone out there looking twist things up a little. You see, most publishers do things properly - they search for relevant content and then they selectively review it and if it works for them, they'll publish it. Great - that's how things are supposed to work.
Then there are the other types of 'publisher'...
They'll harvest anything and everything and put it all on to a website...but that's not the end of it. If they simply did that your articles would be ok. But no, these guys don't want to create a content specific niche portal site, nah - these guys are looking for traffic to monetize and here's what they do - they steal yours!
And here's how:
Back to your altered article. So your article, which had a couple of links at the very end directing people to your website or product is now sending traffic away from you and over to them - because they stole your traffic by adding extra hotlinks to their chosen words.
And the really clever part is this, your article could be about gardening and lawncare, and you made reference to a certain brand of lawnmover in the content - these sneaky traffic stealers can dynamically turn that 'lawnmower' word into a hyperlink so it becomes clickable and steals your traffic and offers the lawnmower for sale! I'll admit it's clever, but it's contrary to the spirit of the publishing exchange idea and another example of a writer getting the shaft!
This is big business. There are some major players on the Internet promoting the technology to do this. In fact, they're making a pretty penny selling the software to do this. Ironically the technology that performs this little miracle of traffic theft is freely available elsewhere (and I'm not telling you where...)
Anyway, 'rant' over. If you use articles to market your products and service (and you should - it rocks!) then you also need to protect your Intellectual Property. Remember, you are creating content to drive traffic to your product or service so when some else adds their links to your content they are in fact stealing your potential customers.
If you need to 'see' what's going on here, imagine this: You sell widgets from your store. You spent time and energy promoting your store, you have great advertising and people visit you regularly. Business is good. Then a competitor who doesn't want to take the time to create valuable marketing and advertising promotions decides it's easier to simply walk into your store, tap your prospect on the shoulder and while they're walking them out of your store - they're selling them their product!