One of Google’s Newest Algorithm Factors: DMCA Takedown Notices

As the number of websites continues to grow and search engines become more adamant in their quest for unique quality content, more and more attention is paid to what companies are putting on their websites. Google recently announced that websites receiving Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices will be impacted in a negative way through their rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).

If you’re not familiar with it, the DMCA was originally enacted in 1998 and signed into US law. It was enacted to protect the owners of content from plagiarism and intellectual property theft. The DMCA states that it is illegal to violate copyright law and that the owner of the content has the right to ask a website to remove it when published without permission. The content doesn’t have to be under a copyright for the request to be made or carried out, but the owner of the image or content needs to be able to prove that it’s theirs. The violator must comply immediately to prevent further sanctions.

Google regularly receives requests from reporting organizations and individual content owners to remove from their rankings websites and URLs in violation of DMCA. In its recent announcement, Google noted that it received more than 4.3 million takedown notice requests in less than a month. According to Google’s Transparency Report covering August 20 through September 20, 2012, that number is now beyond 6.5 million. Consider the fact that the search engine has indexed about 8.6 billion pages, and counting.

Image courtesy of Google Transparency Report

While not every DMCA takedown request means that a website has intentionally stolen or plagiarized material, websites that are repeat and frequent offenders are now on the search engine’s radar.

Sites that are the subject of numerous requests are the latest target in Google’s search engine algorithm change. Why? They hinder Google’s continual quest for the unique quality content that drives the search engine’s ability to serve up the most unique, relevant and informative pages to its users.

If your website is the subject of a DMCA takedown notice, you will likely first receive a request from an individual or an organization representing that individual to take down the offending content. Since Google isn’t the judge and jury that decides whether copyright law has actually been broken, it is integrating the information into SERP results, but is providing those affected by the action with the ability to counter-notice. The company noted that it won’t remove pages from SERPs unless there is a valid removal request.

While a loss in rankings in a search engine marketing plan can be a bad thing for most businesses, there are several ways to make sure that your company is not  the target of a DMCA notice.

First and foremost, make sure that your website’s content is unique. Don’t steal it from somewhere else and call it your own. If you do like something you see, post a link to it and perhaps write a blog about it. If you do post actual content that someone else created, be sure to give proper credit to its source and, when possible, its author.

Keep in mind that changing a few words from something you found elsewhere doesn’t make it unique. The best way to make sure you don’t have any problems in the latest Google algorithm factor is to be original, be creative and be unique. If you’re not gifted in writing, hire a professional who is and who plays by the rules.

 

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