Can Google Solve The Scraper Problem?
Google has a form called the Scraper Report for people to report when they see a scraper site ranking ahead of the original content that it’s scraping.
The idea is that you can let Google know about people stealing your content and your rankings, and hopefully get the situation rectified.
Do you ever see scraper sites ranking above your own original content? Do you think this form will help Google solve the problem? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Head of webspam Matt Cutts tweeted:
If you see a scraper URL outranking the original source of content in Google, please tell us about it: http://t.co/WohXQmI45X
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 27, 2014
The form asks for the URL on the site where the content was taken from, the exact URL on the scraper site, and the Google search result URL that demonstrates the problem.
It then asks you to confirm that your site is following Google Webmaster Guidelines and is not affected by any manual actions. You confirm this with a checkbox.
Danny Sullivan asks a good question:
@mattcutts will you actually do removals with this form, or are you harvesting signals to try and prevent the problem algorithmically?
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 27, 2014
No answer on that so far, though Sullivan suggests in an article that Google will “potentially” use it as a way to improve its ranking system.
Google actually put out something similar a few years back . That one Said, “Report scraper pages…Google is testing algorithmic changes for scraper sites (especially blog scrapers). We are asking for examples, and may use data you submit to test and improve our algorithms.”
The new one is much more vague on what Google intends to do with the information it obtains. Obviously the old one didn’t make a big enough difference.
The reactions to Matt’s tweet have been interesting. One would like to see a similar tool for images.
@mattcutts I've had traffic to an image of mine get diverted to someone who stole it several times. Curious how that is possible.
— Foomandoonian (@foomandoonian) February 27, 2014
One response in particular has gone viral:
— dan barker (@danbarker) February 27, 2014
As of the time of this writing, it’s got 14,455 retweets and 10,982 favorites. Certainly more than the average reply to a Matt Cutts tweet. The tweet is even getting coverage from publications like Mashable and Business Insider. Cutts has so far not responded.
“Google’s efforts to thwart Internet copycats known as “scrapers” have backfired,” writes Mashable’s Jason Abbruzzese. “What started out with the best intentions has become Friday’s Internet joke du jour after Google was caught using its own scraper to mine content.”
He goes on to note the obvious in that it “highlights the tension between the company’s goal of providing quick answers and its role as a portal to the rest of the Internet.”
Sometimes Google’s own “scraping” doesn’t even “scrape” the right information.
It remains to be seen whether Google’s new form will significantly solve the problem of scrapers appearing over original content, but I don’t think it will do anything to keep Google from putting its own “answers” for users’ searches – right or wrong.
Do you think Google’s efforts will improve its search results? Share your thoughts.