You might have noticed that there’s a lot of talk in the SEO world about a new type of negative SEO – Fake DMCA Takedown. Apparently, some black-hats have stated using fake DMCA takedown requests to manipulate Google search results with the sole purpose of downranking competitors.
This negative SEO exploit has resurfaced after TorrentFreak reported an avalanche of fake DMCA Takedown notifications that have successfully removed hundreds of thousands of links from Google.
What is a Fake DMCA Takedown?
Spammers using fake DMCA takedowns is not exactly fresh news. The practice has been around for years but the general consensus was that Google managed to get it’s guard up and protect against an abuse of this kind.
DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – it’s a system meant to protect artists, movie studios and other people or entities from getting their content stolen. A DMCA takedown notice is a notification to a website or search engine that the site is either linking or hosting something that infringes on a copyright.
It’s not easy to stop Fake DMCA Takedowns
Google received over 75.000 DMCA-related takedown requests in 2016. Since then, there’s talk that the annual request has almost doubled. Even though most of these requests are legitimate, people continue to find new ways of exploiting the DMCA system.
With so many notifications daily, it’s impossible for Google to catch all these fake requests. Some of them inevitably slip through the cracks.
Posing as legitimate copyright owners
If you’re thinking that the imposters are using elaborate strategies to fool Google you are pretty far from the truth. Apparently, the scam is as simple as posing as copyright ( owners (Walt Disney LTD, Warner Brothers LTD) and anti-piracy companies (MUSO or Blue Efficience) and overwhelm Google with DMCA notifications.
The ultimate purpose of this scam is to downrank competitors in order to rank higher with their own websites.
Google is working on it…
Google is aware of this problem and has confirmed that some DMCA notifications that have gone through have been reverted. However, the tech company is still expected to issue a statement on this matter.
Keep in mind that the issue is not solely restricted to pirate sites. There is increasing evidence that some small businesses have been targeted by fake takedowns by their competitors.
If your small business has been the victim of a fake DMCA notification takedown, you can post on this Google Webmaster Forum and ask for support. Although you might have to wait a while until Google figures out what needs to be done to stop this abuse.