Some would call this a half-step, others the biggest step yet by the search giant.
Either way, Google announced Friday that it will be downgrading sites with excessive takedown notices, meaning that algorithm scores and resulting rankings will be adversely affected regardless of actual search demand.
This could have a dramatic impact on the pirate search traffic over time, thanks to a powerful downward spiral effect. Because if something appears lower on Google’s search stack, demand and interest in that site naturally wanes, pushing rankings down even further over time.
Here’s that statement Google issued Friday afternoon on the matter.
“We aim to provide a great experience for our users and have developed over 200 signals to ensure our search algorithms deliver the best possible results.
“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.”
“Since we re-booted our copyright removals over two years ago, we’ve been given much more data by copyright owners about infringing content online. In fact, we’re now receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009—more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone. We will now be using this data as a signal in our search rankings.
“Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law.
“So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner.”
“And we’ll continue to provide counter-notice tools so that those who believe their content has been wrongly removed can get it reinstated. We’ll also continue to be transparent about copyright removals.”
Posted by Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering
And, here’s a list of sites at highest risk of getting downgraded immediately, based on a publicly-posted takedown details.