When news hit that Google would begin taking the number of DMCAs a website receives into its ranking algorithm, there was a definite split among SEOs about whether it was a smart move or not. On the one hand, it would negatively impact scraper sites or websites that have lifted content from one of their own sites. And on the other side, website owners who have unfairly received a DMCA could be negatively impacted.
So where does that leave SEOs? Well, with DMCAs a confirmed piece of the Goggle algo ranking puzzle, you can bet your AdSense check that one of the things some of the blacker SEOs will be doing is automatically filing multiple DMCAs against competitor sites. It won’t be very long before we see a huge uptick in the number of DMCAs filed in the industry. After all, any little thing to help your client rank, right? And if you think people will be scared off by the fact it is a legal document, think again. Currently there is no verification for anyone submitting a DMCA so it could be easily filed with a fake name.
The only downside is that DMCAs also are filed publicly on Chilling Effects, so those competitors can easily see someone has filed a DMCA and then file a counter-DMCA. But how a counter-DMCA will affect the Google algo is unknown – does one negate the other? Or will some companies not even know they have a DMCA filed against them if it goes to some generic email address nobody checks.
The change with DMCAs affecting the algo is a good one on one level – on the surface it appears to be targeting scraper-type sites, but really, you would think Google’s algo could already take care of those types of sites without resorting to DMCA sites. Or it could be targeting those who “repurpose” content, but again, Google’s algos currently impact duplicate content pretty well.
So the bigger question that needs to be asked is this – what types of sites are Google hoping to impact with these changes since current algos catch the obvious reasons already? What if they are doing it as a measurement to see what sites are potentially being targeted by those using negative SEO tactics? Now that is the real food for thought, if filing a DMCA against a competitor could show Google that someone in the space is resorting to negative SEO to rank better, especially when counter-DMCAs are filed.
So before you get all gun happy with DMCAs against competitors, take a moment to question just what Google is doing with that data. Particularly if they are using it as a signal not just to flag sites that are legitimately committing copyright infringement, but potentially using it as a signal that it is being targeted by negative SEO, especially when it becomes obvious just where the content originated from.