Google has announced that starting next week it will be changing its search algorithm to take into account copyright violations reported to the search engine. If a site has received a large number of removal requests, they will be dropped lower on search pages. While on the surface this seems like it is a good thing, it can cause problems for businesses who have been wrongly accused of violating these laws.
Despite Google contesting that they will be very clear on how they are using the information to affect the search results, there has yet to be a solidified set of guidelines for businesses to utilize to prevent lowering their SEO. This raises a lot of concerns for small businesses where online marketing and search engine optimization play a key part in leveraging their company.
Many business owners feel that this change will not affect them. They write all of their own content, they’re small, so why would they be targeted. However, let’s assume that the business is search engine savvy and uses a lot of keywords. If the new algorithm determines that the keywords are not relative to the site, this can cause a drop in the search page result. Same goes for content displayed on the page. Everything must seem relative in the new algorithm. This can cause problems for businesses that have advertising on their pages, generate a lot of traffic that produce comments, or display a wide-range of materials.
Another concern with the new search algorithm is that competitors can produce bad-faith accusations. Meaning, they can report a copyright violation that is completely false, in hopes that it will drop the other company search lower on the page. Google is defending this fear by stating that they will provide a counter-notice tool for companies who feel that they have been wrongly accused and will take action against those providing the accusations. Google still needs to make it known exactly how deep they are going to dig to investigate the claims.
This subject has been gaining a lot of press since its announcement, so the new system will be watched with an eagle eye. Small business owners can take a pro-active approach and closely watch their placement on search pages and stay on top of notifications from Google alerting them to possible violations.