By 2 years ago in Blogstorm

Google ranks DMCAs higher than legal MP3 downloads

Back in September, Tinie Tempah signed a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron that claimed search engines like Google should “play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.”

Well, Google has gone some way to giving Tinie et al exactly what they asked for – search for “tinie tempah mp3” now and you’ll see this message several times:

Search for Tinie Tempah

What you won’t see is a single legitimate MP3 store on the first page of results – still. The highest ranking MP3 vendor is Amazon, who for me eventually makes an appearance just below the fold on page two.

Why can’t I find a place to buy mp3s?

After the first ten results returned for this search, users have to wade through no less than eight removal notices resulting from DMCA complaints before they can click navigate to the second page. So is Amazon ranking in 18th position for this term, or 26th? By “protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites” Google has essentially pushed the authentic sites further down the rankings.

Demanding penalties for competing sites is not the way to optimise your site for search engines, but punishing people who don’t do things your way is something that’s symptomatic of the mainstream music industry.

In my original post on the subject, I mentioned that Tinie’s official MP3 store doesn’t really rank anything of note. The visibility of has increased significantly since then (we linked to it, EMI didn’t), but it still doesn’t appear for the term that so many reports quoted when the issue was raised: “tinie tempah mp3”.

These are the top rankings for Tinie’s store returned by searchmetrics:

The top rankings for Tinie’s store returned by searchmetrics

Links to the site will no doubt have helped, but the main reason appears in the third position for “tinie tempah official website” is because the words tinie, tempah and official all appear in the title tag.

Why are there still no legitimate “tinie tempah mp3” download sites in the SERPs?

According to the title tag, sells “Disturbing London T Shirts, Hoodies, Tinie Tempah CDs & More”, where “& More” obviously refers to MP3s and downloads.

There’s even a landing page for MP3 downloads – – for which the title tag is “Tinie Tempah | Official Store – Music – Digital Album”, still no mention of the term ‘mp3 downloads’.

Label bosses and artists (such as Tinie, who’s just one example) are essentially asking “how do we stop people downloading music for free?” and should really be asking “how do we get people to pay for music?”

By highlighting the DMCA notices, Google has found a way to punish illegal sites without rewarding those that aren’t making enough of an SEO effort by optimising their own website for search terms such as “mp3 downloads”.


By Stephen Kenwright. at 3:40PM on Friday, 14 Dec 2012

Stephen is Head of Search at Branded3's Leeds HQ and a columnist on Stephen is from a background in advertising; has an MA in Shakespeare; and now works closely with Branded3’s PR, Content Marketing, Design/Development and Paid Search teams to deliver SEO performance for some of the world’s biggest brands. Follow Stephen Kenwright on Twitter.


  • Max Shearer

    Surely no legitimate download site calls them ‘mp3s’ anymore anyway. They all offer up their downloads in newer different formats.

    • Stephen Kenwright

      Bandcamp, Amazon, and HMV all offer mp3 formats (the latter three exclusively), but I’d agree – iTunes are a big player in legal downloading, and the likes of Spotify are actually streaming services.

      Only iTunes ranks on the first page for terms like “tinie tempah download” though – it’s just weird that record companies and artists are acknowledging that people use Google to find music. but don’t use the product themselves even though they know that’s where the audience is.

      • Max Shearer

        Really?! I was very much under the impression that the mp3 was the 8-track of the digital world! Consider me told!