The Pirate Update: Google algorithm updates it's rule for sites that use copyright material



Google has been demoting websites that are the target of large numbers of copyright infringement notices, or takedown requests. Google’s "Pirate Update" will penalize sites with a high number of valid removal requests from copyright holders. Before this update in 2012, these kinds of sites were ranked higher in google search results, who doesn't love free TV shows, movies and music.


Well Google has updated their 2012 update to be even more strict on websites and any DMCA "takedown" request.


Google wants to reward high-quality sites

Google has recently said that SEO can be a very constructive and positive thing for the website you are proudly optimising your website for. Search engine optimization is a wide term that includes things like keyword research, ensuring there are the right words on your page, and devoting time to ensure that there's no unnecessary jargon.


All in all, it requires careful planning of what content should go on every page. It is achievable to have everything work out perfect when you're attempting to present yourself as somebody who deserves traffic.


However, search engine optimisation isn't just about individual pages. It's a big issue of how the various elements of your site fit together. If you were to optimise one page without looking at the bigger picture, then you could be wasting your resources and making things worse for yourself on Google.


Google is quite clear on this matter: "we try to improve search by creating a useful and easy-to-use tool for people who are searching for something specific."


the very opposite of ethical SEO is something called "black hat webspam", or simply webspam. Many of my client's and business owners that I have encountered have some experience working with agencies that are cheap and perform a lot of the black hat SEO techniques in the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic but longterm Google punishes their website in many different ways.


This update is intended to keep website's ethical, unique and credible. Below is a list of updates in 2021:

Link Spam

Core Website Vitals Update

Product Review and Product Page

Broad Core Algorithm Update before Holiday Season

Product Landing Page



So what is the update about?

On February 8, 2022, Google released a document to the U.S. Copyright Office saying “when a site is demoted [by the Pirate update], the traffic Google Search drops rankings on SERPs, on average, by 89% on average.


Now it sounds scary, but as long as you are not using Copywrite material (Original Material or free content) then you should be fine. Let's examine a little further.


Google said "Tuesday it is considering demoting search results to help combat piracy, a move that could harm sites that legitimately contain pirated content." The move comes after two years of criticism from the recording industry, which took issue with how Google ranked websites containing pirated music and movies on the search engine's results page.


Hollywood Hates Google

Google has had no lack of criticism from the entertainment industry over the past few years, criticism that’s also caused some content owners to hold back on doing deals with the company. Piracy in particular is a sore spot for Hollywood, and Google's ads have appeared next to YouTube clips showing bootleg copies of films like "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road."


Enter Ari Emanuel. Emanuel is Hollywood’s head of William Morris Endeavor, one of the world’s largest talent agencies and a key player in the creative and economic landscape.


As we reported this week, Emanuel has been spearheading a group called Content Creators Coalition, a lobbying effort aimed at pressuring Google to do more to curtail piracy. The group also includes major music labels such as EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing Group.


Google said in the new PDF document “we have developed a ‘demotion signal’ for Google Search that causes sites for which we have received a large number of valid removal notices to appear much lower in search results.”


Redirect Tricks

Google has also said that it is flagging keywords like "still-in-theaters/prerealse" or "free movies" and heavily demoting their rankings. Google said “We have also made it much harder for infringing sites to evade demotion by redirecting people to a new domain.” Google added “we have added a “still-in-theaters/prerelease” flag for DMCA notices involving this category of content to enhance the Search demotion signal.”


Why should you care?

If you are using original content, you shouldn't worry about this however if a site gets too many DMCA takedown requests, it can be subjects to the Pirate update. However if you would like to keep your google traffic high, you should pay attention to this update. One can expect approximately 89% less traffic from Google Search if this happens. Don't try to redirect to another website, both website's will then be demoted equally.


SEMRush has added this update into their site audit called "Google transparency report" for the domain and your SEO Consultant can request that the DMCA requests be expunged from your website record after copyright material is removed from your site.


Find out today if your website is affected.


Why now?

This update was created in 2012, and there are plenty of smart people in Google to make sure people are stealing original content. Why do they feel they need to update this rule? Personally, I believe that Google is moving into the arena of content distribution company and there are possible partnerships opening up for Google. They also have enough data over the decade to say that pirating content is a real issue- however Hollywood doesn't care all that much.


Report Copyright Infringement to Google


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