I have been robbed…

For South African’s the above tag-line is nothing unusual. The crime-rate is quite high and pretty much everyone had a run-in with criminals over the years or at least knows close relatives or colleagues who have been affected by this.

Fortunately I was not a victim of South African crime, but a victim of internet theft. I have been in the consulting business for more than 15 years and have built up quite a impressive CV over those years. I have spent more than two years tweaking it to the state it is, and now enjoy the fruits of my labor by getting #1 Google search rankings when you search for “senior websphere architect“.

It was quite an unpleasant surprise, when I checked my page-ranking the other day and I found this:

At least three people decided to steal (Free dictionary definition: “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.“) not just the layout and color scheme of my website, but also the content.

Many people would think that this is not very severe – but think about this:

  • Due to my Google search ranking I get contacted on average by 5-15 agencies, employers and headhunters a week
  • I do not have to go out and apply for jobs anymore. Over the last 8 years, every consulting position I had was offered to me and for each one I had at least another 2 fallback options
  • Everyone knows that it takes substantial effort to get a high Google search ranking. There are hundreds of SEO (search engine optimization) companies out there making lots of money in helping companies to achieve this.
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: People copying my layout, stealing my content and search optimizations ultimately affect my income – Less companies will contact me, resulting in fewer contracts which ultimately affects my pocket – in my mind this is the same as taking money straight out of my wallet.

Funny for me was, that one of the guys did not even bother to change the favicon – which still shows my picture on his website – see red circle in the picture above – the right tab is my website.

Not to be unfair, at least one of the people responded within 24 hours to my email, took his site down and apologized. The others have not bothered responding.

I am more than reasonable – if you had just asked, I would have allowed you to take some content/layout from my site.