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The almighty Google announced recently that they’re tweaking their algorithm yet again. This time, they are cracking down on copyright violators.

In practice, this relates mostly to things like movies, music, games, and related entertainment industry concerns. But, it also emphasizes the need for quality, original content on your site in order to be appealing to search engines.

The Google machine has been penalizing and/or blacklisting sites for years based on duplicate content – that is, the exact same content found on separate sites. This can get you in trouble if, say, your strategy is to create an affiliate web store that imports content wholesale from an online vendor’s site. This year’s Panda and Penguin updates further targeted content deemed unoriginal, and spammy keyword stuffing techniques.

This latest tweak takes it a step further, by taking into account the copyright removal notices Google receives from users. According to their blog post, that amounts to more than 4.3 million URLs within 30 days (4,300,000 for the mathematically inclined). It’s a big deal to devote the time and resources to wading through all those notices for the valid notices (many are frivolous, inaccurate, or not recognized by law), and it’s a big indicator of how far Google is willing to go to deliver relevant search results.

You’re likely not hosting any pirated entertainment on your site (if you are, shame on you). In the final analysis, that’s what this tweak is mostly aimed at cracking down on. But, all the same, it’s an excellent reminder that original content is key to getting your site found on SERPs. This is becoming more true by the day, it seems!

So, in closing, some key takeaways to put into practice:

  • Don’t steal content
  • If you’ve stolen content, take it down right now
  • Focus on creating useful, original content
  • Make sure to properly attribute any quotes, photos, etc that you use on your site
  • ‘Tis better to ask permission than forgiveness, at least in the legal world

Oh, and whatever you do, watch out for the Copyright Monster (Hyperbole and a Half). That dude is scary.

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