Blaming Web Company For Content Penalties

Dec 31, 2010 • 8:07 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

A Google Webmaster Help thread has someone who is claiming his site was created completely by a web designer he hired, from the design to the content and discovered the content was stolen from other sites. The thing is, from the wording of this person's complaint, it seems the web designer used boilerplate content to fill the pages so that his client can re-do the content themselves.

This is the complaint:

i paid a web designer to make a website for me but a lot if not most of the text has been copied and pasted from "very" large websites. it has only been up for a few days but i a worried i will be the one in trouble. i have contacted him regarding this. he said he has done nothing wrong and knows the "web laws". he said this is just a rough draft but if i had not caught it i think it would have been left there. i want to turn him in to Google and others but i am afraid the only thing that will happen is my website will be removed from search engines not his. any advice would be appreciated

As many of us know, designers need content to insert into the site's design to see how it may look. If the client won't provide it, often they will use gibberish or content from similar web sites just for drafting purposes. I am not sure if this person paid the designer to also do the content on the site, I suspect the person feels like he/she did.

Now she is worried that Google will penalize the new site because the content is stolen.

I like most of the replies in the thread, but Google's JohnMu replied, so I have to quote him. He said:

Looking at your site -- assuming it's the one that comes up in the search posted above -- I imagine this is something that you'd be able to fix yourself with a bit of help. It's usually not that complicated to change the text, and if this is just a few pages, you could have that changed yourself by Monday (and learn a little bit about websites on the way :-)).

I can't say what the best solution is for dealing with your web-designer, I'll leave that to you & the others. My suggestion would be to take the current state, start a new thread here in the Chit-Chat section and get advice from the experienced folks here regarding how to move forward. Instead of spending too much time worrying about these details, you could be focusing on making the most out of it. Even if you later decide to move on and have the whole site re-made, you will have learned a lot about the details that you'll need to know then.

Love how John ends with, "you will have learned a lot about the details that you'll need to know then."

Bottom line, the site should not be live until the site owner approves it. It should be on a test domain, locked down, until it is approved. Once approved, then well...

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Jim Rudnick

12/31/2010 03:41 pm

sounds like that "designer" (term used here loosely, eh!) needed an URL for "lorem ipsum" eh???? :-( Jim

Mark Aaron Murnahan

12/31/2010 04:21 pm

Oh boy. I have played cleanup for a lot of jobs like this. When a client achieves their wisdom the hard way, they either love the new guy, or hate them by association (to the industry). It may help if more people would just check references before signing over their money. Instead, they cross their fingers and hope that slick-talking Web genius will read their mind and deliver just what they always wanted. There are often two directions to point fingers in cases like this. Both parties need to be able and willing to communicate. Also, why in the heck was it live before it was approved? Again ... check references!

Materials Handling

01/03/2011 12:30 am

If the site owner paid the web designer to write original content, then he has every right to receive what he paid for. He really should negotiate with his designer and clear things up. Hopefully, he’s learned to double check his websites and make sure they’re clean and good to go before releasing them online.

Miles Carter

01/04/2011 05:01 pm

I'd say this is to a large extent the designers fault - something people without experience of the business side of building sites will do is completely forget to ask about who will author/provide content, being fixated on the design - often with an SMB, non-tech savvy client, with no interaction, the expectations of both the client and designer will be for the other to take care of it.

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