On Friday, Google’s Amit Singhal reported that the company will roll out a new ranking signal that factors any Digital Millenium Copyright Act requests that a site has received into its search standing. According to Singhal, the move will “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.” The fight against piracy on the web has been a continuing battle for different industries over the years. Google’s update could make it more difficult to find unlicensed and pirated content on the web, while creating one more reason that original content is needed for SEO.
For marketers, the move will impact their SEO in a limited manner – unless they’re routinely hit with copyright infringement notices. In theory, the update could improve site’s search standing since those with frequent DMCA violations will drop or be removed from results altogether. According to Singhal, a rapidly growing number of copyright infringement notices and removal requests provided the impetus for the update. He wrote that Google currently receives more copyright removal notices in a single day than it did in all of 2009. In fact, more than 4.3 million URLs have been the subject of these complaints in the last month.
“This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”
– Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Amit Singhal
Any sites negatively impacted by the update that believe they were improperly penalized can file the usual reconsideration request or use the “counter-notice tools” designed for these specific instances. Moreover, the company will continue to provide data related to the sites that have been removed for violations related to the DMCA.
While the issue is most often associated with music piracy or illegally downloading movies, the improper use of all website content is an issue. For example, it’s not uncommon for low-quality sites to scrape articles and other content from more legitimate sources on the web. In the past, Google’s Matt Cutts has suggested that content is copyrighted the moment it is published. While he isn’t wrong, as the first site to release information is the owner of the data, it’s important for companies to explicitly define the usage guidelines for any material created as part of a content marketing strategy. Brafton highlighted the significance of a copyright and usage clause, as well as the best ways to present it on a site.
For the most part, Google’s search updates this summer have focused on its Panda and Penguin algorithms, which related to quality site content. This latest update is similarly focused on user experience, as it ensures searchers find only legal content with their queries.