Scrapers, smarty pants and copy cats!

Introduction

It has been a while since my last post here on www.papaspyropoulos.com, mainly because of lack of free time.

Since the last time I posted something here we have published quite a few cool websites at www.x2interactive.gr. You can read about all that on our company blog.

What has made me want to write again isn’t inspiration, but frustration. Yes, a negative feeling that unfortunately has become all to common lately due to the way things are happening in the Greek Web Design / SEO market. At first I thought I could drive this annoying feeling away doing productive things, but no, it is not as easy as I had hoped for. So, it is time for some blog therapy. Time for me to express my opinion about a few things that are bugging me lately. Time to get some weight off my chest.

As most of you know, I have been operating x2interactive – Web Agency for the past 10 years with my business partner John Efstathiou. Before that I was part of various creative web teams. I have been doing this job since 1999 (officially). I have experienced situations that I am grateful for but also situations that have annoyed me a lot. A few of the things that annoy me are content scrapers, smarty pants and website copy cats. All aforementioned “skills” unfortunately have a strong presence in my local web market. I am sure, these are skills one meets in other countries as well, but at least other countries are larger than Greece and have many more Web Agencies. Here, we practically all know or know of each other so when I see signs of scraping and website copying it just flips me out! But, what annoys me mostly is the fact that even if it is 2014, even if clients are now more sophisticated that what they used to be years ago, I still feel that they don’t understand when someone is bullshitting them. (Oh, by the way the polite word for bullshitting is bluffing, but it just didn’t sound right). There is still room for scrapers, smarty pants and copy cats to sell original work of other agencies as their own. If only clients would stop going for the cheapo solution and researched their options better, they would see what mess they are getting into. I suppose I am expecting too much though.

Sorry if I am rushing ahead. I promise I will address clients too, later. But for now, let’s talk more about scrapers, smarty pants and copy cats. Yes, they live amongst us and they think they are so smart! So let’s get to it.

Examples

Scapers

There is this company that has suddenly got lots of attention in the Greek Online Hotel web market. It is a young company that offers various web services. Amongst those services it also offers SEO and Digital Marketing. Besides their misleading client list (I will not get into this at all), that same company also has a blog. In that blog it shares tens of posts that have been scraped off from reputable online marketing websites from all over the world. Word for word. To fool prospective clients into thinking that this isn’t scraping they have added the link to the website they have “borrowed” the content from at the bottom of each post BUT and this is a big but, the link isn’t active! So, the website they are “borrowing” their content from never gets pinged or notified. It never knows that these self proclaimed, so called professional SEOs are scraping content from their websites. In the meantime, that company offers SEO services to Hotels. I wonder how “white hat” those SEO services are. That same company, which shall remain nameless, has another “ace up their sleeve”.

Smarty Pants

You know how WordPress has thousands upon thousands of templates? Some are free and some are not. Anyone can use them quite easily. Of course you know this, everyone does. Well, this same scraping company thinks that they can sell WordPress templates that they buy for $100 as original designs to 5 Star Hotels. I call these … cough, cough… “web professionals” smarty pants! They go head to head against respected Web Agencies that offer true custom solutions that are unique and snatch jobs from them by presenting those templates as value for money original design work. Of course, no client ever asks an expert in these matters to check what they are paying for. Someone like a web consultant for instance. Do you know of anyone that hires web consultants? I would say probably 1 in 100 companies maybe do so? Anyway, moving on.

Copy cats

Another company which shall also remain nameless, thinks they are even smarter! They think that they can surf the Greek web, and save web pages and their css files and resell original designs made by others as their own work. These are the terrific copy cats! Yes, don’t be surprised if you see that awesome design you spent days and nights perfecting being used by someone else. You have probably fallen into the clutches of the copy cats. Quite common, especially if you are a good designer.

Ending

I would like to say one more thing. This post isn’t only intended to be a rant and a warning. It is also intended to be a request.

I am writing this post to ask all you proprietors, managers and directors, to start paying attention to who you are hiring for your web projects and stop comparing apples to oranges. I want to ask you politely to stop thinking that you can get the best website by trying to hide your budget while aiming for the less expensive “solution”. I want to ask you to make sure that you are paying for a true custom solution. Asking for one doesn’t automatically get you one you know. There are no cheap custom solutions. Why is this so hard to understand?

If you don’t heed my advise you will get what you pay for, you will get a scraper, or a smarty pants or a copy cat, or you might be unlucky and get someone that has all 3 of those awesome skills!

I will say one thing to all of you, that you don’t seem to understand. One thing that you just don’t get yet. Mark my words.

The image of your company online is as good as your Web Agency is.

Have a great day all!

My name is Spyros Papaspyropoulos and I am a Web/SEO Professional and Awarded Web Designer. Co-founder of www.x2interactive.gr & www.webdesignblog.gr. I love Web Design, Technology, Social Media, Dilbert, Comics and taking pictures. I live in Rethymno, Crete, Greece. I travel to Athens twice a month for business and feel lucky to experience both cities. This blog is something I like having just for fun. Anything I find interesting or funny, I just post it here for anybody to see. Hope you like it. Cheers!

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