Google copyright clampdown sees infringing sites sink 98% in search rankings

Google's move to strangle websites which publish copyrighted material has seen some sites suffer a 98 per cent collapse on SEO visibility as a result of the measure, according to data from Searchmetrics.

The internet giant, which last week updated its search filter to penalise copyright-infringing sites – forcing them to the bottom of its search results or even expunging them from its service altogether – has already had major ramifications to the SEO of pirate sites, according to the data.

The worst affected websites have been those which display links to or directly host copyright protected music, TV and movies.

Search metrics has released a "top 30 loser" list, to highlight which sites have seen their rankings plummet since the changes, with Movie4k.to among those to see a 98 per cent drop.

Thepiratebay.se saw a 48 per cent fall in its SEO visibility, while dozens of other sites were also affected.

This means the likes of Movies.4k.to and other sites which also saw 98 per cent drops in visibility, will be largely invisible to US Google users who type in keywords such as 'download free movies'; ‘watch [movie name] online free’, ‘online free movies’, ‘movies download’, ‘watch [movie name]’ and ‘where can I watch [movie name] online’.

The tightening of the screw follows complaints from producers that Google has shied away from actively policing against piracy.

However, advertising trade body ISBA has voiced its concerns regarding Google's methods to the crackdown, which involves promising legitimate sites high rankings, but if they buy a paid ad placement.

ISBA's director of media and advertsing Bob Whooton said although the move signals a "step in the right direction", it also leaves a "bitter aftertaste".

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John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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