Algorithm Update Sees Google Search Traffic to Pirate Sites Fall

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports that Google is seeing fewer search users getting directed to pirate sites in the wake of algorithm updates applied by the company.

Google's algorithm updates appear to work at doing what they were designed for - namely, reducing traffic to piracy websites. That assertion is based on an analysis of year-over-year data conducted by TorrentFreak, alongside piracy tracking company MUSO. According to their report, MUSO and TorrentFreak say between December 2019 and November 2020, pirate sites experienced a drop in numbers that equated to a third of their total figures.
  • Search traffic to pirate sites hit a downward trend in January of last year and went into freefall in May 2020 after a brief spike when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.
  • Google launched a core update on January 13th, 2020, with another being released on May 4th, 2020.
  • May's core update had the most profound effect, seeing a 20% reduction in search traffic within the month.

"To confirm our findings, we spoke to the operator of one of the largest torrent sites, who prefers to remain anonymous. Without sharing our findings, he reported a 35% decline in Google traffic over the past year, which is in line with MUSO's data."
While Google's core algorithm updates are intended to have a widespread effect on all global search results, specific categories of sites are expected to come off worse than others. Between December 2019 and November 2020, that equated to a 10% drop in traffic to pirate sites - not including traffic originating from search engines. However, it's worth remembering that the pandemic affected how many blockbuster movies got produced, and that has to be factored in when considering pirate website traffic.
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