A Guide To The Google Pirate Update

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Previously we analysed Google Pigeon and its impact for webmasters across the world, this week we are discussing Google Pirate – the copyright update!

Mid-2012 Google announced that they were to start penalizing sites that had multiple DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests for violating copyright laws. It is said that the update was released on 13th August 2012 although no official release date was announced.

Google put their anti-piracy measures into action and sites that had previously received a number of DMCA warnings were starting to worry about their rankings and whether they would fall out of the SERPs completely.

DMCA requests are an effective way to get copyrighted content removed from Google although they are very time consuming to file. You do not have to be a webmaster to make a request, anyone can report copyrighted content for removal. Google take these requests extremely seriously and analyse every allegation to come to an appropriate outcome. Prior to Pirate, DMCA requests only removed the stated page from a site if it did not follow the Copyright laws but with Pirate now in place Google will analyse the entire site that has had allegations made against it which could potentially mean a penalty for the site as a whole. This means sites with a large amount of DMCA requests will appear much lower in the SERPs or not at all!

The impact of Google Pirate’s release was fairly minor compared to the update over 2 years later; Pirate 2.0 was rolled out on 21st October 2014 which caused significant drops in traffic and visibility for many webmasters. The industry that was hit hardest with this update was torrent sites which supply users with media files such as movies and music via a BitTorrent. Many large torrent sites found their rankings plummeting and in turn, lesser known torrent sites and legal authority download sites taking their place. An example can be seen below:

Google has a Transparency Report that shows the domains with the most reports filed against them due to copyright infringement. From the below screenshot you can see that there are 529,710 domains (at the time of writing) that have infringed copyright more than once. Not all of these sites will be given penalties but they are in the Transparency Report to show webmasters which sites have the most accusations against them:

What about YouTube?

Many webmasters were wondering what was going to happen to copyright infringements on Google owned YouTube, however Google commented saying they were to treat YouTube like any other site although they would not appear on the above list. This is because YouTube removes copyrighted content on a regular basis and has its own feature on site to report copyrighted content although it can be an extensive procedure.

Google Pirate: Overview & Impact

  • The Pirate update was released on August 13th 2012 to diminish copyrighted content displaying in search results
  • Sites with a large amount of DMCA penalities are at risk of getting a site-wide penalty
  • Torrent sites were the most effected by the original update and the refresh in October 2014
  • There are 520,000+ domains currently at risk of penalties according to Google’s Transparency Report
  • Trusted and legal authority sites are replacing those that have been reported for copyright infringements in the SERPs

Want to find out more about how Google updates effect your website? Why not head on over to our blog and read our articles on Penguin & Panda to get started!

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