Starting today Google will begin demoting sites within its search rankings which have received a large number of valid copyright removal notices. The move is expected to help give more search prominence to legitimate sources of content; sites such as Spotify, Hulu and Amazon. Nuances within the ranking calculation should mean popular user generated content sites like YouTube won’t be hit hard by these search algorithm tweaks.
Amit Singhal, SVP of Engineering at Google said on the official Google Search blog “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.” The new infringing content signal affecting content rankings in Google Search is just one of over 200 used by the company to “ensure our search algorithms deliver the best possible results”.
Mr Singhal stresses that a copyright complaint is not going to seriously affect a site ranking unless a valid copyright removal notice is received from the rights owner. The company wants to be transparent about the process and will provide counter-notice tools for web developers.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has sought clarification from Google about how YouTube will be affected, given that the site has a very large number of copyright infringement notices filed against it that have proved to be valid. Google told Mr Sullivan “that the new penalty will look beyond just the number of notices. It will also take into account other factors, specifics that Google won’t reveal, but with the end result that YouTube - as well as other popular sites beyond YouTube - aren’t expected to be hit.” Examples of sites also expected to be more or less unaffected by search demotion are “Facebook, IMDB, Tumblr and Twitter”. These are sites where you might share/embed your YouTube videos!
It’s going to be very interesting to see how YouTube is affected by this algorithm tweak (if at all) and if fairness and even-handedness prevails. The YouTube escape clause of user generated content wasn’t discussed in the Google Search Blog post about this algorithm change, how’s that for transparency?