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Legally Seized URLs are Still Returned in Search Results



11:22 am on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


You may have come across the following on your searching travels for websites offering illegal content:

http://img412.imageshack.us/img412/7180/siteseizednotice.jpg [img412.imageshack.us]

Great that piracy is being cracked down on, but what I don't understand is why do Google still return the URLs within the SERPs, even though there isn't any content on any page. So no internal links, no copy, no headers, high bounce rate - but yet I have lots of examples of 'seized' websites returning high up in SERPs - which leads to the main issue - external links.

Since late May/ early June I have seen monumental changes in the SERPs with URLs appearing that have a number of low quality sitewide links, but include the URL name in the anchor text - which is keyword rich. So, in over 100 examples (for a extremely competitive term) that I have investigated the factors are the same:

- Massive improvement in Google SERPs for keyword rich URLs
- Under 500 external links
- Keyword rich anchor text
- Do not generally perform well for multiple search terms
- Domain age is under 1 year (some went live in May/June)
- Keyword rich internal anchor text that hinders usability

I guess this is for another thread (which I will copy and paste after this) - but for the original seized URL point:

Have you come across this?
If so did the URL continue to perform despite having no content?
What is the backlink profile like for this URL?


6:19 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I haven't come across this so far, but I do see pages with no content at all continuing to rank based on backlinks. So I can see how these legally seized domains could slip through the cracks at Google.

Does the US Government maintain an official master list that Google could tap?

Robert Charlton

6:27 pm on Sep 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Just for reference, should the above link break, the graphic, very official looking government certificate plastered across the site reads:

"This domain name has been seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Special Agent in Charge New York Office in accordance with a seizure warrant obtained by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981 and 2323 by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It is unlawful to reproduce or distribute copyrighted material, such as movies, music, software or games, without authorization. Individuals who willfully reproduce or distribute copyrighted material, without authorization, risk criminal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 2319. First-time offenders convicted of criminal felony copyright laws will face up to five years in federal prison, restitution, forfeiture and a fine."

The certificate is widely quoted elsewhere on the web and even partial wording entered into the search box will pop it up in Suggest. Also for reference, here's government press release about "Operation In Our Sites" targeting online piracy here...

With regard to the question, I've seen sites with content taken down rank for a fair amount of time afterwards, at least in situations where there's at least a place holder page online and there are residual links pointing to the page.

...keyword rich URLs

I'm assuming the question is in fact about keyword rich domains, not URLs, to make an important distinction.


8:07 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Yes I agree - but I think in this instance it highlights the significant weight placed on keyword rich external backlinks. We all know the importance of optimising your anchor text, but I believe that pre-May - this website wouldn't have ranked so highly. There is too much weight attributed at present (IMO) - which is why I have seen such an influx of keyword rich domains since May flooding the SERPs.

I do not know if there is a list, but I think it would be a great idea.

@Robert Charlton

Thanks for the update and yes I should have referred to 'domain' rather than 'URLs'.


9:50 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If the sites have backlinks and the 'take down notice' isn't returning eg a 404 (is it?) - then how is Google to know the site has gone?
Of course, if it does return a 404, I'd expect it to drop quite soon after the next crawl.


10:50 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


The setup that I see for this example is a 302 from the root to /index.html - which returns a page just showing the image. So the page is setup like so:

<center><img src="SiteSeizedNOTICE.JPG"></center>

My point is that the domain is still returning very, very high despite having zero content and no structure for over two months.


11:30 am on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Reminds me of when a wordpress blog with only a "hello world" post could get PR5 when you linked to it from your PR6 site...


7:38 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@ Seoering

I've noticed that Google does NOT do anything about those sites

@ tedster - here's an example of seized domain doing extremely well for you: filespump .com

ranks in top 5 for "file search engine" ( without quotes ) & still pulling in 350K UV's for file search related terms according to compete


8:00 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

That's a strong example.

As a rule we don't discuss specific websites or query terms in this forum, but this is an exceptional topic so... we'll make an exception.

Yes, Compete is still reporting traffic, but there is a massive drop from June to July.

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