A publisher whose content was copied by thousands of sites had them removed from Google through the DMCA process. The person asked Google’s John Mueller if the uniqueness of the content mattered and if not, does that mean it’s a waste of time to fight against content theft.
Context of Mueller’s Comments
In order to avoid confusion, it’s important to note that John Mueller’s statements were made in the context of answering a question about content that was copied and reproduced on over 3,000 sites.
So when John discusses “uniqueness of content,” his words are within that narrow context of content that is original.
In the past John has said that having unique content is important. The word unique in those prior statements were made in the context of being original and not in the context of content that is stolen.
I just want to make the context clear in order to avoid the impression that what John advises in this context applies to a different context, which it does not.
Massive Content Theft and Rankings
The person asking the question implied that their rankings were not so good. The implication was that a reason for the poor rankings was tied to the reproduction of their content on thousands of other sites.
But once they removed thousands of sites replicating their content the site rankings did not improve.
The legal process used to remove the content was through a United States law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
What is a DMCA?
The DMCA provides a legal remedy where companies like Google are granted immunity from being sued for publishing content stolen from someone else, as long as they provide the original content publisher a way to request that the content be removed.
The DMCA takedown request provides a publisher with a way to ask Google to remove content that was stolen from them.
Google is next sends the infringing party a notice about the complaint and gives them an opportunity to contest the claim.
If the alleged infringing party chooses to contest the claim, the person filing the DMCA has to take it to the courts.
Filing a DMCA is not a simple thing, it’s a very serious legal process and publishers should consider seeking the advice of a lawyer to learn more about the DMCA process if that is something they are considering filing.
Is It Worth it to Defend Content From Theft?
This is the question:
“Every article on my site has a specific phrase in the beginning. Through a Google search for this exact phrase I found 3,000 doorway sites had stolen my content and within six months I had them all removed from Google’s index through the DMCA.
I did a great job but it had no effect on my position.
So question: Does a significant increase in the overall uniqueness of a site’s content have no effect on the site’s ranking and visibility in the search results?
Then is it not worth the effort to fight against content theft?”
Uniqueness of Content and Rankings
John Mueller focused his answer on the question of whether uniqueness of content makes a difference in rankings.
“So as far as I know, there is no aspect in our algorithms that says, oh this is something that is very unique to this one website and will, because there’s something very unique here we will rank it higher for all kinds of other queries.
So if you’re selling, I don’t know… a unique type of shoes and someone is searching for shoes, then it’s not that we would rank your site because it’s a unique type of shoes but rather you have shoes, this person is looking for shoes, and maybe other sites also have shoes and we’ll rank them based on kind of the shoe content that we find there.
So it’s not a matter of us kind of going through and saying, well, there’s something very unique here, therefore we should rank it higher for this generic term.”
Is it Worth it to File a DMCA?
Mueller next answered the part of the question dealing with whether it’s worth it to file a DMCA.
“Obviously if you have something unique and someone is searching for for that unique thing then like we will try to show your site there.
And that’s kind of the reason also for things like the DMCA complaint process where you can say well, someone else is ranking with my unique things and I don’t want them to show up because that’s my content, or I have a copyright on it at least.
And for that, the process makes sense.
But for kind of the generic case where someone is searching for something generic and you have unique things that also map into that generic category, I don’t think we would rank your pages higher just because they’re unique things.
So I think if you’re seeing that other sites are ranking for your specific thing, for that unique thing that you have on your website and you have a copyright on your content and whatever else aligns that you can use a DMCA process for that, that’s a perfectly fine tool to try to help clean that up.
But it’s not the case that we will rank your website higher just because like we’ve seen some unique things on your website.”
Unique Content and Rankings
The person asking the question apparently did a Google search for a unique phrase that was included in the content. They assumed that the copied content was having a negative effect on their rankings but once the content was removed the rankings did not improve.
If another site is actually outranking your site with an exact copy of your entire web page, then that’s a problem. But if thousands of sites are copying content and not outranking, then that’s maybe not a problem related to poor rankings.
The problem is elsewhere.
Sometimes we look for reasons why rankings aren’t where they should be. But the reason isn’t always something weird like stolen content or really bad links.
It might be that the content or site quality might need improving or maybe that the site needs better promotion.
Why Filing 3,000 DMCAs Didn’t Improve Rankings
Watch at 43:15 minute mark: