How Much Can Your Google Traffic Plummet If You Rip Off Content?

Do you know what’s not fun?

Another site stealing your content.

Copyright violations have happened since the beginning of Google time. Years ago, I wrote a blog post about what to do if somebody steals your content.

Fortunately, the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) makes it “easy” to get offending content taken down.

In many cases, someone honestly didn’t know that they can’t reuse content from another site. The mistake is innocent, an embarrassing learning experience, and easily fixable.

They’ll never make that mistake again.

But what happens to those other people who love pushing the envelope. They upload other people’s content because “nobody will notice,” and “it’s not like we’re hurting anyone.”

Some people even believe that reprinting others’ content without their permission gives the content “exposure to a new audience.”

Yes. Seriously.

Often, these folks receive multiple DMCA takedown notices. Sure, they eventually comply and take down the content. But many of them go back to their previous dumb behavior and upload something else that violates another person’s copyright.

Why? Because they mistakenly believe that there aren’t any Google consequences.

And they’d be wrong.

Wondering what can happen if you steal content and post it on your site?

Search expert, Glenn Gabe, dropped this bit of Google knowledge. Here’s his tweet:

Screenshot of a Tweet from Glenn Gabe reads: Based on a submission to the US Copyright Office: Re: its Pirate algorithm, Google has made it harder for infringing sites to evade demotion by redirecting to a new domain. When a site is demoted, traffic Google sends drops by 89% on ave.

Yup, you read that right — an 89 percent drop.

Imagine losing almost 90 percent of your traffic overnight?

Oh, it would hurt. And it would hurt bad.

First, OF COURSE, there’s an algorithm designed to catch copyright infringers. The Pirate algorithm has been around for a long time. Like, 2012.

Second, this is Google reinforcing that copyright violation is a big deal. And site owners who continue to do it will be punished the best way Google knows how — cutting off a site’s visibility.

So, know that stealing others’ content has consequences. Google may not punish you immediately. But, know that Google is watching…and that traffic drop-off could happen any minute.

To me, that’s not worth the risk.

What do you think about the “Google punishment” for stealing content?

Have you dealt with a client who felt that stealing content was A-OK? Does knowing that Google is punishing offenders make you smile? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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