Data Shows: Removing 'Rogue Sites' From Search Won't Make Much Of A Difference
from the stop-blaming-google dept
Pulling up the data on traffic sources for every site listed there shows that taking the big search engines out of the equation would barely matter. Across all 19 sites listed, 85% DOES NOT come from search (Google, Yahoo and Bing). Specifically, across all of those sites, the big three search engines deliver a whopping 15.2% of the traffic to those sites. Google sends about 11.5% of the traffic. Remove search links... and those sites will see a slight dip -- at best.
Of course, not all of these sites are equal, so we decided to look more closely at the favorite bogeyman of the legacy entertainment industry: The Pirate Bay. To hear the industry tell the story, if Google just blocked The Pirate Bay from its results, traffic would dry up. The evidence there suggests that the entertainment industry doesn't have the facts on their side (do they ever?). Google search drives slightly less than 22% of The Pirate Bay's traffic. Considering how many sites rely on Google for traffic, this is well below average. Add in Yahoo Search and Bing, and we're still talking about less than 28% of TPB's traffic actually coming from search.
And of that search traffic, what are people searching for? Well, most are searching for some variation on "the pirate bay." We looked at all of the search traffic to TPB for the past three months. The top 16 search terms that send traffic to TPB are some variation on the site's name. These are the top eight search terms, for example:
- pirate bay
- the pirate bay
- pirates bay
Take Care, of course, is Drake's high profile new album -- the same one that Drake made clear he didn't mind if people listened to the leaked versions online -- effectively sanctioning people to search for the downloads. It's also been a highly successful album on the sales front, anyway -- selling over 600,000 copies in its debut week. Doesn't sound like Drake is really suffering because of this search. As for the R. Kelly tape... well... let's just not go there.
Still, the point is pretty clear: Google and the other search engines don't really drive that much traffic to TPB (or other so-called "rogue sites"), and an awful lot of the traffic they do drive... is people searching for TPB itself (meaning they're just using Google as a shortcut, rather than to "discover" infringing works). And, when Google does drive people to specific content, it's usually because the person is already looking for what's almost certain to be an unauthorized version. Thus, the picture the industry paints of people doing innocent searches for authorized content, and somehow being waylaid by Google pointing them to TPB just isn't seen in the data. At all.
Force Google, Yahoo and Bing to "block" links to TPB and it will have almost no impact on traffic to TPB. It may annoy some people who use Google for navigation (rather than discovery), but it won't stop them from going to TPB, since that's clearly what they want. The drive to force Google to either block or "warn" people about these links seems entirely pointless based on the data. So, once again, the data suggests that the industry is in hysterics based on reasons not supported by the data. The effort to make search engines block links would be a total and complete waste of time.