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Local competitor copied our keyword metatags

Is copying exact keywords a copyright issue?



3:35 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our site ranks number one in Google for our main keyword phrases, primarily due to lots of hard work and unending support from the extremely considerate and generous members here in Webmasterworld.com! Sincerely, I can not thank you enough...

I have just found that a competitor has been copying our keyword metatags and placing them on their site in size "1" font as not to be seen by the viewer, and can only be seen in the source code. It appears as a white line on a black background on their site....too small to read so looks like a horizontal rule line.

It includes our keywords exactly and even our company name. It is text not hidden by color on color, but by font size so small you can't read it. But the search engines are seeing it...as can be found on Google when I did a search for our keyword phrase and there it was under the title.

What can I do? They are even using it in their keyword metatags (although it is deemed not as important in algo), but the fact that it exists on the index page of their site in the tiny font...our keywords have been indexed on their site in place of the usual description.

Please advise how I should proceed with this. Is tiny (unviewable by searchers) stolen text okay?

This is the second time a local company has actually copied and pasted my exacted meta keywords onto their site (including our company name), only this time it is on the site as well, not only in metas...and therefore being indexed.

Thanks for any advise....Linda


3:45 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


The test for wether this is good or not is really a little common sense, was the hidden text (and this does qualify as hidden) put there to aid the surfer or to create a benefit for the page?

There are two courses of action, out SEO them and/or make a spam report.


4:21 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


This has happened to me also. I wrote an email and left a phone message to the site owner. I presented an even tone and adopted the position that I assumed the site owner did not know about it and perhaps their webmaster had done it without the site owner's knowledge. I also stated that I could report them and get them banned.

Of course I really felt like ripping their freaking heads off, but I played it cool to see what would happen. I received an apology email and they removed the offending code.

Good luck.


4:56 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I remember when someone stole our whole HEAD section. Problem is we had a link to an external css file in it which stuffed up their site presentation completely! Needless to say it lasted only few days. When i went to their site it said words to the effect that they were in a poor country and it wanst worth suing them for copying other content as they didnt have any money, suggesting that they did this for a lot of their site.

I really think meta-tags are only a very small part of SE ranking, and if they are generic terms then it would be hard or a waste of time to pursue it rather than reminding site owners that you know what they did. Look out for more significant copy they are copying though. If they are using trade marked names or brand names then you are on more firm ground.

People tend to love stealing our site names for PPC for example. Some of our sites are named like "Afghanistan Business Procedures" (example only), and people like to bid for these terms in PPC for sites that are much broader in scope, therefore apperaing above us in SEs which use PPC listings, and making it appear in the listings they are actually our own site, which has developed a "brand" eg. "Afghanistan Business Prcedures dot com" over many years. We got upset initially, but realised we couldnt anything about it as they were generic terms, and either outbid them or waited till they dropped the terms in a couple of months.


5:00 am on May 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Because they are using your company name in the metas and hidden text, you can send them a cease and desist letter to the infringer for using your company name. A couple cases that I know about have even made it as far as court, and the court sided with the company owner, not the infringer.

Do the results appear in Google? If so, you can file a notice of infringement - the information for doing that is at [google.com...]

Anything you write is copyrighted, but in the case of metas, it is pretty easy for a competitor to simply mix up the order of those meta keywords and call it their own. I am not sure where the courts stand on this, so your best bet is to go after them for the use of your company name in the metas and hidden text.

And you can always file a spam report at Google for the hidden text as well.


11:39 am on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My main supplier is also my main competitor. I discovered a couple of months ago that they had taken my keyword code. No changes at all!

The webmaster is a very good friend of mine ... so I decided to say nothing. It is only common sense to use only those keywords or key phrases which appear on the page! The majority of my keywords/key phrases do not appear on their index page! Dumb thing to do.

As far as I'm concerned, its the best thing she could have done ... for me that is. ;)


5:29 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jenstar is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The webmaster is a very good friend of mine ...

You would always think this would make them less likely to steal something, but in my experience, it does not. I have had people steal from my website that I would consider friends, even someone I had mentored :(


11:48 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Stealing of top-ranking code is a common problem and I don't think chasing them is productive unless there are brand name or copyright violations involved.

Like Chiyo says it correctly, Meta tags is a very small part of SEO work. You can be confident that you can outshine them if they are not using their own SEO skills and just copying your code, since ranking is a combination of a lot more stuff.

I can tell you that one cannot rank even #2, even if they copied all the code of #1 site. If that started happening, all the SEO's would be out of business very quickly!


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