Starting this week, Google will be including a new piracy signal to factor into their search rankings. Sites guilty of copyright infringement or reported to be in violation of copyrighted material may find their site hit with the new penalty that could see them appearing lower in the search results.
Google already uses over 200 signals to determine search engine rankings. According to a recent blog post from Google’s senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, their latest piracy penalty is designed to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily”.
Under increasing pressure from film and music industry professionals to process copyright removal notices, Google has agreed to help steer consumers away from pirated content online by using piracy data as a signal in their search rankings.
Copyright holders can file DMCA takedown requests against any site they believe is in violation. There is no way of telling if copyright infringement has occurred, however, Google can evaluate each allegation and subsequently remove content if shown to be valid. Where previously the page containing the alleged copyrighted content was removed, Google will now penalise entire sites with too many removal notices.
Google may argue that their latest adjustment will not be a penalty as such but will simply stop rewarding sites that are found to be violating copyright law. It seems that webmaster must now be weary of being accused of infringement along with recent concerns about negative SEO and unnatural links pointing to their sites. Although Google insists they will continue to provide "counter-notice" tools to reinstate content that has been wrongly removed, webmasters are left wondering what they can and cannot share on their websites.
If you are concerned that your site may be affected by the impending piracy penalty, speak to an SEO specialist today to learn how you can avoid drops in your site rankings and stay in Google’s good books.
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