Google’s new algorithm methods will mean a dynamic change in how websites are ranked and will likely incite vigorous and sometimes nasty competition amongst the millions of websites featured on the search engine site.
This is the company’s latest effort to combat online piracy and make Google a place where users can find established, legitimate sources of information.
While Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Amit Singhal said in his blog post that the ranking change “should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” no websites will be removed until Google receives a valid copyright remove notice from its owner. They will also institute counter-claims for persons affected by the copyright notice in order to maintain fair judgment.
However, the blog post does not define what constitutes a valid copyright complaint nor does it define what “high numbers” of copyright notices will make a site go down in the rankings. This could mean that one valid complaint could affect the search engine rankings. If three or four people made a valid copyright complaint to Google on, for instance, a website that seems to have lifted or illegitimately used a photo from another, then their rankings could go down, down, down until it takes many pages to find the site.
Worse, this new algorithm method by Google could give companies incentive to boost their search engine rankings by taking down competitors in less than scrupulous ways. Google, the world’s largest search engine, and its associated companies like YouTube and Picasa, will especially benefit from its own design laws, as they could go after their competitors if a user makes a complaint, but may be more likely to make special exemptions for themselves when the shoe is on the other foot. That, in the long run, means more exposure for Google’s own cavalcade of companies.
Google’s new search ranking algorithm isn’t all about protecting Google’s assets. While most of the world flocks to Google for information, videos and more, the vast majority of other websites may find their livelihoods at significant risk under the new algorithm. These don’t necessarily have to be fly-by-night sites that game the system in order to boost views and possible ad revenue for themselves; these could be websites that legitimately make original content, from commentary blogs to music websites, making it possible that your band’s entire website may be at risk thanks to the new methods by Google.
What content creators can do in this new situation is ensure that what they create is original and does not stray away from what is considered fair use. If creators play by the rules and make original content that differentiates themselves from the rest of the Internet and social media, their chances of becoming a target for copyright complainers will remain low. To that end, the rankings of the Google community will better reflect the diversity of the Internet and not be skewed towards the major copyright complainers.