Does Hitwise Read SEO Book?

A couple days ago in a blog post we published this image.

And that image recently appeared in a copyright HitWise "advanced SEO" presentation

Whenever we share their data / research / charts on our site we try to attribute them. Not only did they offer no attribution, but they also cleansed our logo from our branded image. In the above image you can see

  • they just happened to use the same scale and title and colors AND
  • how the logo was removed AND
  • how the line at 700 (where our logo was) is darker than the other lines AND
  • how the line at the 600 level is broken slightly toward the right side slightly (like we accidentally did on the original image when we took the screenshot)

This sort of activity is from a marketing company that thinks our site is important enough to pitch new releases to.

Who is the guy working for a multi-billion dollar company that markets stolen content from recent blog posts from blogs with 30,000+ subscribers without expecting to get caught? I hope they get fired.

And if this sort of corner cutting speaks for any of Hitwise's other business practices you are best off avoiding them.

Published: July 29, 2009 by Aaron Wall in marketing


July 29, 2009 - 8:03am

Where did you find the "advanced seo" presentation? I'm assuming that was a paid product?

July 29, 2009 - 8:11am

Go Aaron!

July 29, 2009 - 8:27am

Someone forwarded the webinar deck to me because they were angry about Hitwise stealing our material and cleansing attribution.

July 29, 2009 - 4:44pm

I'm not a legal expert but I'd imagine if people PAID to view a presentation that contained your original work without your consent you could get them into some really hot water

July 29, 2009 - 8:29am

That is shocking!!!

Hitwise i hope you are ashamed of yourselves!

July 29, 2009 - 10:56am

Hi Aaron,

We regularly have to contend with this kind of casual copyright infringement for articles and reports we publish on our site, it's both irritating and time consuming.

The only adequate method I've found of dealing with it is to do as you've done here and let as many people know about it as possible. We usually find that other people's content tends to have been 'borrowed' too - so we make a point of informing them and advising they contact the infringer also. As a side benefit, we've found it to be potentially useful for building up alliances and partnerships with some site owners - and even reciprocal links also.

The DMCA warnings are worth doing, but they seem to be regarded as just a slap on the wrist now by many who engage in this activity. There's nothing like an in-box full of irate content owners threatening legal action to really focus the mind :)

I'm not sure if it's lack of life experience or wilful disregard because "it's only on a website", but this is the sort of thing that could get you hauled up in front of a judge and sued if you tried it with other media like print or TV. Some people need reminding that on-line media is subject to copyright law also.

Stuart McK
July 29, 2009 - 11:02am

I was part of a webinar that Hitwise Search ran yesterday . Firstly, apologies for not sourcing and attributing the SEOBook chart that we used in the presentation.

This was an oversight and we have taken measures to prevent this from happening again. We’ve committed to re-recording the webinar with the proper attribution and other courses of action to help rectify this error with SEOBook. It’s a great site for Search professionals to refer to – very useful and enjoyable to use.

Again this should have been properly attributed and I hope that people and SEO Book accept our sincere apology and trust that we take this matter seriously and are doing everything we can to put it right.

Stuart McKeown

July 29, 2009 - 11:32am

Airbrushing out the logo is a bit more than an "oversight" though isn't it Stuart? This is more like wilful intent to pass someone else's copyright off as your own. Can you describe what measures you have taken to prevent this happening again exactly?

I'm certainly dubious about Hitwise as a brand now having seen this and will think twice before trusting the integrity of communications originating from you. You're going to have to do better than a boilerplate "we're really sorry, it won't happen again" line to recover from this one.

July 29, 2009 - 12:22pm

I don't really listen to him, but it reminds me of an old dr. dre/eminem song:

"Wait! What if there's an explanation for this shit?"

"What? She tripped? Fell? Landed on his d...?!"

July 29, 2009 - 3:04pm

"and trust that we take this matter seriously and are doing everything we can to put it right"

Stuart, here's a tip to put things right:

Now as difficult as this may sound, it is possible.....simply this : don't carefully and painstakingly airbrush out logos.

July 29, 2009 - 4:13pm

The Hitwise apology does nothing to address the willful and deliberate action of copyright infringement. This wasn't simply a case of forgetting to correctly attribute the source. I think the apology is pathetically inadequate.

Hitwise has the email addresses of everyone that attended the webinar. They should send send an email to all attendees notifying them of the incorrect attribution, and pull the current webinar from the archives until it has been updated.

At least seobook gets some good publicity out of this:

July 29, 2009 - 4:41pm

Plagiarizing scum. If you do that at university, you get thrown out.

July 29, 2009 - 4:43pm

Shocking @Hitwise!!

Aaron you may want to invest into a software for watermarking your images in future..


July 29, 2009 - 4:50pm


This makes me wary of any information coming from Hitwise. And the "apology" only makes me trust the company less.

July 29, 2009 - 7:42pm

A compliment and a slap, at the same time!

Please see the Future of Hitwise After Plagiarism Graph.

July 29, 2009 - 7:54pm

What a f**king joke of an apology. That was really pathetic.

July 29, 2009 - 8:46pm

When an opportunist gets caught, they say they are sorry. If they don't get caught, they are not sorry. That is one of the hallmarks of opportunism.

The only way to protect against it is 'self attack'; watermarks, legal action, in short... take away opportunity by finding your vulnerabilities first.

But hey, to have to use this strategy makes you the leader. That is a hallmark of the leadership position, so at least that feels good (for a few minutes).

These people have to be shown how to behave, or they won't. Sad. True.

July 29, 2009 - 10:31pm

Absolutely shocking...And to think this is a "proper company". Nothing but a bunch of thieves and liars.

July 29, 2009 - 11:14pm

I was a little suprised the other day when I was flicking through the notes for their SEO webinar and saw that graph.

Just for general information, their webinar was free, and while I don't know what their audience was composed of, we got the invite and follow up material (including the SEO book graph) from our interactions with them the other year when they were trying to sell us on their traffic information.

July 30, 2009 - 12:36am

I got their email with the PDF for the webinar yesterday and was flicking through the presentation and saw the graph and thought exactly the same thing. It was pretty disappointing to see them not only not site SEO Book, but to airbrush out the logo as well? Very disappointing. I am definitely going to have a word with my account manager at Hitwise and express my thoughts.

Keep up the great site Aaron, this is easily the best source of SEO information on the web.

July 30, 2009 - 1:30am

i would encourage anyone who is currently using Hitwise to drop them. I used them in the past, paying a whole lot of money and found a much cheaper solution with Check them out if you want something similar without the fluff. P...
July 30, 2009 - 5:12pm

Oversight: an unintentional omission resulting from failure to notice something


Not an oversight:

1. Browse to
2. Navigate to article containing link graph image
3. Save image to local drive or take a screen shot
4. Open image in photo editing software
5. Select eraser tool or cut logo out using marquee tool
6. Touch up to match background color
7. Select line tool or pencil and create horizontal line (using wrong hexadecimal color)
8. Export new image
9. Insert image into Hitwise presentation
10. Ask self if it wouldn't have just been easier to contact Aaron Wall about using his graph, which may have resulted in Aaron blogging about Hitwise in the future--in a POSITIVE way.

July 30, 2009 - 11:16pm

This morning when I got in, hitwise sent through an email with an updated version of their presentation with the logo added back in.

It is a shame that they said "missing references to some of the resources used" instead of "missing references to some material we sourced through". Kind of looks like a half measure and implies that it was a trivial omission.

Just thought you might like to know.

July 31, 2009 - 1:12am

Pretty classless and sleazy for them to go to so much effort to make the omission and then go to so little effort stating what they omitted.

It shows the apology was insincere/fake and this is standard procedure for them. Good to know how they operate though.

July 30, 2009 - 11:58pm

Listened to the Webinar last night & the presenter quite clearly mentions where the image is from, also some reference to SEO4Firefox later on.

July 31, 2009 - 8:02am

what the hell - that is amazing. What kind of moron wrote that thinking he could get away with it? I hope there is a follow up story re who is going to the chopping block for this major blunder :p

Aaron, sounds like maybe a sweet linkbait for you :p I recall how telling the story about how when someone sued you it turned into heaps of links for you, maybe you should sue - or at least appear to start the process - to create enough conterversy to generate some gnarly links :p

July 31, 2009 - 9:59am

I have no desire to sue as it would distract me from other business opportunities...just wanted to highlight what they did so they would stop doing it.

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