SOPA PIPA Blackout: Google Slows Down Web Crawler GoogleBot to Support Protest

on January 18 2012 10:19 AM
SOPA PIPA Blackout: Google Slows Down Web Crawler to Support Protest
US lawmakers switch sides as the protests over anti-piracy bill soars. Google Screen Shot

Google won't be an integral part of the coordinated blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA, but it's doing its part to support allies like Wikipedia and Reddit.

After posting SEO tips Tuesday to help blacked-out Web sites continue to get online traffic, Google's Pierre Far has announced that the search engine's GoogleBots, the web crawler that picks up sites to display, has been altered to move at much slower rates for Jan. 18.

What does this mean for the Internet? Basically, that sites participating in the blackout are less likely to be affected by their decision to self-censor.

SEO Tips for Blacked Out Sites

On Tuesday, Google provided some SEO tips for Wikipedia, Boing Boing and other sites that plan to self-censor themselves for Internet Blackout Day. Search Engine Optimization is what keeps some stories at the top of Google's news clusters, and one traffic-less day can hurt page views.

Google also announced that it would be including a link to information about the controversial bill on its Web site. Google on Wednesday blacked out its google doodle in a show of solidarity.

Google, which has been a vocal opponent of the controversial bills, wanted to take its protest one step further. However, because of the news sources that depend on Google Search and Google News to distribute information, from CNN to The IBTimes, the search engine wasn't able to do a full blackout all day.

That's when Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, decided to the Web site could still do its part in the SOPA protests.

Google Slows Down GoogleBot

Hello webmasters! Far wrote on Google + this morning. We realize many webmasters are concerned about the medium-term effects of today's blackout.

He then went on to explain the dilemma: if the GoogleBot, Google's web crawler, went at its usual speed, it would pass right over sites censoring themselves to protest SOPA and PIPA, effectively erasing them from search.

As a precaution, the crawl team at Google has configured GoogleBot to crawl at a much lower rate for today, Far explained.

This way, the Google results of Web sites participating in the blackout are less likely to be affected.

Protesting SOPA/PIPA

The decision to slow down Google's web crawler is a serious move on the company's part, and a testament to its commitment to oppose SOPA and PIPA.

A forum discussion of the move has been launched at Google +. So far, reaction to the move has been overwhelmingly positive.

To find out more about the Stop Online Piracy Act, check out SOPA Bill 2012: 7 Things to Know About Controversial Legislation.

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