How Copyright Infringement Can Affect Your SEO

If you want your business not only to survive but thrive, good SEO is crucial. That’s why any experienced entrepreneur is constantly investing time, resources, and energy to improve their SEO and keep up with the latest trends – that’s the only way to stay in the game.

The creation of fresh and interesting content is one of the most important parts of this process and people are trying out various methods to produce quality content.

It is quite normal for this process to have its trials and errors, and to sometimes get overwhelming, but there’s one thing that can do serious damage to your SEO – copyright infringement.

It  can give you serious headaches if not taken care of properly.

There are many who still think copyright infringement is worth the risk because nobody actually pays attention.

The Internet may seem like the Wild West, but that doesn’t mean anyone is watching.

Google is always watching – and with copyright infringement punishment G might hit you at the very core of your SEO efforts.

Defining Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement essentially is – duplicate content. If you’ve worked hard on your SEO, you’re probably closely monitoring your site’s presence in Google. Others are too. If the content on your or their site is exactly or almost exactly the same as on another website then you have a case of copyright infringement.

And it doesn’t need to have two websites involved – you can have copyright infringement within your site but on different pages. If you have the same content on multiple landing pages and you’ve only changed the title, that’s not only a lazy step but also clutter for your website.

We know sometimes it’s hard to fill each page with quality content that’s interesting. It’s hard but crucial, with SEO systems advancing. And content quality is now something that AI is able to recognize by what they understand in the text and how people are responding to it. So there’s no room for laziness – there’s no danger if your content is similar to another page as long as it’s created specifically for your website.

Who Does The Research?

Everybody knows they should perform research before posting any content to their site to make sure it’s not copyrighted. But, for the reasons mentioned above, many of us outsource content creation. Earlier the biggest concern of outsourcing was the maintenance of quality, but today there’s an equally important one – the lack of research that could potentially infringe copyrights.

If this happens you risk being reprimanded or can even face legal consequences. This was already known, but people haven’t reacted to it very often. But today Google becomes the one who reacts, giving you an additional reason to be extra cautious.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

This is not simply a quote from Spiderman – for Google, it has become a reality. Today Google owns almost 70 percent of the market share of search engine companies. This high status – the power in our quote – makes them a target when it comes to promoting copyrighted material so they need to watch their own backs – the responsibility part of the quote.

This means that they’ve been forced to make some drastic changes in the form of updates to their search algorithm, and looks like they’ll bring some serious repercussions for offending businesses. From now on they’ll be taking note of every valid copyright violations any website receives.

You could receive these copyright violations for posting materials such as photos, videos, or music to which you shouldn’t have free access. If these violations stack up, it’s quite possible your business will appear lower in the search results when users enter their query.

Even worse, your listings may be excluded from the search results entirely. If you run a company which relies heavily on online searches for gaining access to sales and new customers, this is as dramatic as it gets.

Always Ask for Consent

If rights holders discover that you’ve used their content without prior consent, or even if they only believe this is the case, they can file a copyright removal notice right away. This can include anything – writing samples, audio recordings, videos, photos, etc.

You could even create your own video for Youtube, but use a copyrighted song without permission or insert a stock image you didn’t pay for and the result is the same – hurting your placement in Google search results.

Intentionally or accidentally using methods like trademark keyword stuffing can also get you into trouble, so be careful how you use trademarks in you content, SEO setting and schema markup.

This can damage your sales and activity for the coming months, so make sure you always ask for consent, no matter how small the copyrighted material seems in the bigger picture.

The Witch Hunt

Maybe in the past, these rights holders were lazy when it comes to reporting, but with Google’s change of attitude, the situation has turned into a real witch hunt. It’s enough to know that Google has lodged more than 4.6 million copyright removal notices in just one month.

When you take a look at their lists from 2009 this number is absolutely huge. And if you examine the full log there won’t be any doubt about the seriousness of this situation.  Most people in the entertainment industry (photography, music, etc.) file these reports,  but the fact is that any rights holder has the ability to do so.

In situations like this, some people are taking advantage of Google’s new rules simply to wreak havoc on any site. There have been reports of false claims filed by people who wanted to improve their positions in search results by removing competitors.

Google has become aware of this poor practice and those who violate the takedown request could also earn negative impacts in their positions. But, like in every which hunt, people are ready to lie until the end – as Actuate IP point out, in some cases legal proceeding will be necessary and you need to be ready to defend your rights.

Take Immediate Action

You should make your priority to remove any pirated content as soon as you realize it’s appearing on your site. Maybe you won’t even have to feel the potentially crippling effects on your SEO if you bring it down fast enough.

To make sure that any new content will remain outside the grounds for the violation it’s best to plan monthly audits with your team. You can also effectively avoid this problem by carefully protecting your business through wording your terms and conditions. If you make any visitors agree to your terms and conditions before they’re allowed to post on their own, the responsibility will shift from your shoulders to that of the individuals.

It’s clear you need to take proper steps to prevent the pirated material appearing on your site when you can be excluded from search results as a potential outcome. Immediately remove any suspicious looking content and plan regular audits. When it comes to preparing your website’s terms and conditions, be detailed about it – it’s probably the most effective way to avoid Google’s copyright infringement system ruining your SEO.


About the Author

Nick Brown is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.

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