What You Should Do When Other Bloggers Steal Your Website’s Design

You know how to deal with spam blogs who republish content from your site’s RSS feed. You know all the legal stuff – filing a DMCA complaint with the web hosting company, sending email to the site’s advertisers, filing a spam report on Google Webmaster central and so on.

The above measures are applicable when someone steals copyrighted content from your blog, website or any other type of online publication. But do they hold true with your site’s design and graphical elements?
The answer is Yes as well as no. Let’s clear the legal air first.

Search Engines Don’t Care About Design Theft. They Read Only the Text!

Website Design ProblemsIn case of textual content, the search engines will themselves discover the original source by looking at their crawl data. “Okay, we crawled this page on site A 10 hours before we crawled this page on site B. Site A has 800 indexed pages and 250 genuine backlinks while site B has negligible backlinks, no pagerank and no original content. This is easy math – Site A is the original source.”

Such is the reaction of a typical bot when they discover duplicate content on a spam blog and tally it with your site’s original content.

But this is not the case with design and graphical theft. The search engines completely ignore your site’s design and will not entertain any complaint regarding design theft of your website.So that leaves the search engines aside.

Now you can file a DMCA complaint with the spam blog’s hosting company. Take my words – their support staff is not going to entertain you unless of course you are a top brand attracting millions of readers every single day and have the guts to take down the hosting company’s reputation in one blog post.

So What Should I do When Other Blogger’s Steal My Site’s Design?

Nothing. Just ignore them. Think why other bloggers are stealing your site’s design? Why not anyone else’s? Why yours? Because you have the power to influence.

Your design is surely very good, otherwise the other blogger won’t have mimicked your blog template. He would have picked another blog instead.

Don’t Do the Mistake I did

The same thing happened with me a year ago. Some guy just duplicated my blog’s design and I felt terrible. I had spent hours deciding the colors, choosing font’s, fixing design bugs and the imposter just mimicked everything with a little help of add-ons like Firebug and looking at the source code.

These are the things I did, heck they were mistakes:

1. I emailed him using his site’s contact form stating that he is duplicating my blog template which is custom made. You guessed it right – the reply never came!

2. I tried to contact him on Facebook and Twitter. Same drill – no response.

3. Grinding my teeth in anger, I left a comment in one of his recent blog posts. Boom!

This started a hurricane of protests, negative comments and boomerang reactions. I forgot the fact that the same guy also runs a website, that he also has a reader base, that he can outflank my appeal by asking his friends or followers to comment on the same blog post. My comment stood there like “A FOOL”.

Never do the mistake I did. You are not going to achieve anything by starting a “Protest campaign”.

Why You should Ignore Design CopyCats?

Simple. If someone duplicates your site’s design, it’s going to add more power to your brand. Not theirs!
Readers, Bloggers and visitors who visit both sites will have this reaction “Hey! I have seen this similar template on xyz.com, let’s check that blog out and read the content he has written.”

When readers discover that you have more authority on the niche, that you are more influential than the other blogger, that you are more trusted among web users and have a fine reputation – guess what happens. The same mimicked design empowers your brand, adds more strength to it and helps you gain more readers.

Readers are 200 times smarter than you can ever think – they will soon discover the original source and draw their own conclusion.

Reputed blog’s won’t steal your site’s design. The “Get Rich Quick” guy will

A reputed blog which is updated daily with original content,has a large reader base and a good authority won’t ever steal your site’s design. Newbies who are here just for the sake of earning money, will do the same.

And there is a common trend – they will change their site’s design every other week (or may be sooner)
To wrap up, stop obsessing about your site’s design or worry when other bloggers mimic it. They are indirectly helping you to spread the word about your brand.

Remember this evergreen quote,

“Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.”