SOPA protests won't damage Google search rankings

Web sites that go offline or strip out content to protest the antipiracy legislation need not worry that Google will penalize them.

Wikipedia's homepage, just after midnight on Jan. 18, 2011, shows the protest against the proposed SOPA legislation. Google has slowed its indexing activities so that such protests won't hurt sites that protest.

Ordinarily, taking your Web site offline or removing its content is pretty high on the list of ways to damage its prominence in Google search results.

But Google has granted a special exemption during the protests today of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Many in the tech realm despise the proposed legislation and are protesting it with blackened, content-free sites.

Pierre Far, a Webmaster trends analyst at Google, offered an assurance that SOPA protests today won't cause problems with Googlebot, the system Google uses to constantly examine the Web's content and structure.

"We realize many Web masters are concerned about the medium-term effects of today's blackout," Far said. "As a precaution, the crawl team at Google has configured Googlebot to crawl at a much lower rate for today only so that the Google results of websites participating in the blackout are less likely to be affected.

Google and Wikipedia are among the highest-profile sites protesting SOPA, though Google's changes are mostly cosmetic.

Via Search Engine Roundtable