Will Your Site Go Dark on January 18th?

Stop Internet CensorshipMany websites are planning a blackout on January 18th to protest the SOPA legislation. Like many things, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy) started out as a well intentioned effort, mainly spearheaded by the music industry, to tackle piracy and copyright infringement by “rogue” websites. However many think the legislation goes too far.

The opponents say that SOPA would give the US government the ability to completely block a website from US viewing even if just one link on that site violates copyright. It wouldn’t matter if the link was created by a user and not the site owner, blockage would still be possible. If that doesn’t bother you, this FAQ on SOPA may. No wonder sites such as reddit – which are driven by user generated content – are up in arms over this legislation and plan to go dark on January 18th as a protest.

While there is some fearmongering going on here, it is clear that the legislation is dangerous and not really in the spirit of a free and open internet that many of us expect. SOPA opponents have many valid points. While there are signs that the White House is beginning to waver in its support of the bill, we are not out of the woods yet.

Joining the SOPA blackout protest? Read this first

Many are urging webmasters to protest by posting a statement on their site. There are already WordPress plugins created that you can use. However before you run off and implement any of these, consider that your actions may have a negative impact on your site’s SEO. Have a read of this post:
How to participate in the outage without hurting your site with Google search. Google recommends that you have your site return a 503 HTTP status code so that it knows not to spider your content that day.

It occurs to me that maybe Google should just not crawl that day?

Picture by aussiegold and published under the Flickr Creative Commons License

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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1 comment
Kathy Alice says January 16, 2012

Lots of people are recommending the “Simple SOPA Blackout” WordPress plugin that will redirect your site between 8 am and 8 pm on January 18th. This plugin does a 302 redirect (does not return the 503 that the Google post recommends). Google has always been vague on the subject of 302 redirects, sometimes it indexes the originating URL sometimes the destination URL so your mileage may vary. (changed Simple Stop SOPA to Simple SOPA Blackout).

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