In October 2014 Google released an anti-piracy update which aimed to preventillegal movie sites from ranking well in Google’s search results. JustWatch conducted a study to see what actually changed a year after.
Here's what happened:
before Google Pirate Update
one year after the Pirate Update
Around 35% of visits on illegal streaming sites are still from search engines
since Google Pirate Update
Visits via Search Engines
since Google Pirate Update
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Due to the pressure of the film and music industry Google rolled out the so called “Pirate Update” in October 2014, which aimed to prevent sites with many copyright infringement reports, as filed through Google’s DMCA system, from ranking well in Googles listings. It was intended to punish sites that were clearly violating copyright laws, which mostly affected illegal movie sharing sites.
Since then, many Torrent sites lost a lot of traffic or got crushed completely, which may indicate that the industry won a partial victory. However, appearances are deceiving. In fact, Google did not penalize illegal streaming sites at all. While the search engine traffic of illegal Torrent sites decreased, the search engine traffic of illegal streaming sites increased significantly. Furthermore, the search engine visibility of illegal movie streaming sites is 15 times larger than the search engine visibility of illegal Torrent sites.
Using the Global Website Ranking from SimilarWeb, 20 of the largest movie streaming and Torrent sites worldwide were identified, including sites from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Poland and Russia.
Subsequently, the quantitative data were derived from the SearchMetrics Visibility Score on SearchMetrics.com over a time span of two years (10/22/2013 - 10/22/2015). The data was used to determine whether the search engine visibility of the Torrent sites decreased after the Google Pirate Update and to determine in how far the search engine visibility of movie streaming sites was affected.
Also, the traffic and the traffic sources of 20 of the largest illegal movie streaming sites worldwide, including sites from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Poland and Russia were analyzed using SimilarWeb. The tool was used to calculate the percentage and absolute numbers of search engine traffic on the analyzed movie streaming sites.
For the study, the website traffic of the last month (September 2015) was projected to a period of 12 months, which is possible due to the low fluctuation of traffic on the analyzed sites, according to SimilarWeb. Furthermore, SimilarWeb was used to calculate the average share of search engine traffic on the analyzed movie streaming sites.
The objective of the study was to investigate whether the search engine visibility and the amount of search engine traffic on illegal movie streaming sites decreased after the Google Pirate Update in October 2014.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the Google Pirate Update did not prevent illegal movie streaming sites from ranking well in Google’s search results. This implies, that Google's Search Engine Results are still a huge driver to discover illegal movie sites.
The following movie piracy / Torrent and streaming sites were analyzed:
Movie Piracy/Torrent: kickass.to, thepiratebay.se, torrentz.eu, extratorrent.cc, torrentz.in, torrentbit.net, rarbg.to, limetorrents.cc, torlock.com, bitsnoop.com, torrents.to, nox.to, ddl-warez.in, serienjunkies.org, torrenty.org, isohunt.to, elitetorrent.net, mejortorrent.com, torrenthound.com, identi.li
Streaming: solarmovie.is, filmesonlinegratis.net, my-hit.org, bigcinema.tv, couchtuner.la, cucirca.eu, putlocker.is, megafilmeshd.net, filmesonlinegratis.net, armagedomfilmes.biz, cinefilmesonline.net, zalukaj.tv, Seriesvideobb.com, filmesonline2.com, kinox.to, movie4k.to, kkiste.to, kinogo.co, filmweb.pl, pelis24.com
SimilarWeb is the leading web metrics tool which provides insights in traffic sources, organic and paid search, search engine traffic, social traffic and related sites. The data of its diversified sources is intelligently combined, normalized and extrapolated. The data we used includes only visits by desktop computers.
The SearchMetrics Visibility Score presents the current trend and historical development of a domain's visibility in search engines. The index reflects how often a website shows up in the search results which makes it possible to compare the performance of different domains in search engines. The Search Engine Visibility is composed of search volume and the position of ranking keywords. Each position is individually measured by a calculated factor from Searchmetrics. Furthermore, the Search Engine Visibility factors in whether the ranking keywords are navigational or informational.