In August 2012, Google officially waged war against piracy. The goal of its so-called “Piracy Update” is to crack down on websites offering illegal content by significantly decreasing their visibility in the search results. October of last year saw an update to the tech giant’s algorithm, practically erasing the trace of many notorious pirates on the Internet to this day. It’s an impressive feat except for one thing: it only hurt torrent sites.
While cutting the traffic of the most popular file-sharing sites is an achievement never seen before, many can’t help but wonder why streaming sites remain untouched; ironically, such online avenues has enjoyed more than 1000% growth since the update, according to a study.
As a premier SEO company in Colorado, C1 Partners has been following this issue closely from the start. Admittedly, it’s quite an intriguing development, especially since Google made bold promises in the past. With the help of a couple of reliable sources online, we have a few takeaways to make sense of the matter:
Too Much to Handle
In November, the Search Engine Journal reported that Google receives over 2 million takedown requests per day—that’s more than twice the number of copyright removal requests the company got the same time last year. Even if Google has a reputation for taking quick action, such a large volume of work proves to be too overwhelming.
Apart from that, Google’s concern is not only accommodating all of the requests; they’re also concerned about bogus infringement allegations. The company knows the powerful impact of reduced search visibility to a website, and they’re seriously wary of fabricated requests to ensure fair competition.
Months after the update was launched, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan did a case study about Game of Thrones to see how Google fares in getting illegal streaming sites out when it comes to pirate-prone searches. The result was not at all satisfactory, as if ad profits clouded their decision-making.
In the case study, most of the pirates are gone in the search results, but the most relevant, legitimate streaming site is either hardly visible at times or only next to secondary legitimate sources that paid ad spaces.
Even if the legitimate source didn’t bother to make extra effort on SEO and SEM, Sullivan felt Google could have, at least, gone out of their way to put them first out of principle.
Ultimately at Fault?
Many believe that Google should take the blame on why pirates even exist online in the first place. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and it’s easy to point fingers when things seem uncontrollable. Such allegations against the company, however, are sometimes unavoidable if there are lines they don’t want to cross.
An example is their reluctance to censor the entire illegal streaming site, as per the request of major music and movie industry groups to de-index the worst offenders.
Even TorrentFreak shares their sentiment, mainly because of the mainstream attention the search engine gives to “uninformed” news sites they compete against. TF thinks a “self-serving modification of Google’s algorithm” has to happen to truly reward the legitimate and punish the unlawful.
We are yet to learn the true reason illegal streaming sites still mushroom and thrive. Only time can tell if they will suffer the same fate of torrent websites. For now, let’s all be patient, and see how it’ll turn out—one miracle at a time.
To stay updated with the latest news about Google, bookmark C1 Partners’ blog page now.