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Google: Copied Content Outranking Original can Indicate Site Quality Issue

Google Search Central has always been a source of Knowledge for Budding SEOs as they get to learn a lot from knowing about the issue and its solutions given by John Mueller. 

In the recent Google Search Central, John Mueller has touched on the topic of copied content ranking better than the original one in the SERP. A Search central participant asked Mueller that his site content has been stolen and republished by another website that now ranks ahead in the SERP than his content. He also asked how he can protect his site’s content in the future and what he can do so that the site that copied the content does not rank ahead of his original content. 

John explained that if the copied content is ranking better than the original indicates there may be broader quality issues on the site where the original content is present if such things keep happening.

Options with Site Owners

Muller said if a site owner finds that another website republishes content without prior permission from the Original webpage, they can immediately look into the DMCA takedown process.

DMCA is a legal process; John refrained from giving any advice on the exact situation where the process can be applied and how to apply it. DMCA is a process where you can report stolen content to Google on a per-page basis, and if you are successful in providing the proof to Google, it may decide to remove the offending page from the search result.

“The primary action you could take there, depending on the situation, is to look into the DMCA process. The DMCA process is a legal process, so I can’t give you legal advice on when it applies and when it would not apply. But that might be something that you could look into.

 

With the DMCA process, you’re basically saying, my content is my content and someone else has copied it. And you’re giving Google that information on a per-page basis. And based on that, our systems or the legal team – I don’t know the details – will review that and take action on that. And also inform the other side about that so that if, for example, they were the original source they would be able to raise a concern and try to find a different resolution for that. But that’s, I think, the primary approach that you could take there.”

Using DMCA takedown is one of the options to stop copied content ranking above the original one, but it does not guarantee whether such things will not happen in the future. Mueller told to look at site quality as a potential fix to stop such things from happening in the future.

Site Quality Assessment 

Assessing the site’s quality and making changes can go a long way in solving copied content rankings better.

He further added that algorithms at Google’s helm are much smarter to determine which site to trust as a source by looking at the site’s overall quality than a random site that does not own the content. 

“The other thing that I would also keep in mind is that if you’re regularly seeing other people with a copied content ranking above your content, then to me that points at a situation where maybe the overall perceived quality of your website is something that our algorithms are having trouble with.”

“That could be something where maybe it makes sense to take a step back and think about your website overall and try to find ways to significantly improve the quality of that. To make sure that when our algorithms run across your website with the content on it, and some random website that they don’t know about with the same content on it, that they say: well, actually, your website is the one that we should trust. And not so much like some random website is perhaps just as good or even better than this website that we know about that we know we don’t trust that well.”

Currently, no tool can calculate how Google assesses a site’s quality. It has been challenging to assign measurement metrics to see the quality of the site. No matter what, if copied content is ranking better than the original, then it is time to look at the site’s overall quality and make some changes to improve it.

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