4 Ways Intellectual Property Law is Relevant to Your SEO Optimization Strategy

Considering the internet isn’t a physical entity, it can be easy for users to be a little more risky with their actions without actually thinking about the potential consequences that they could face. Perhaps they take this risk because they believe it’s something that someone can’t physically see or they’re just unaware of what the laws are, but the possible sanctions can be massive.

Similarly, certain practices within SEO need to be bear in mind with such laws when they’re conducted. In particular, intellectual property can crossover with certain optimization strategies that are commonly used in SEO where plagiarism and copyright could be an issue.

If you’re unsure how intellectual property coincides with SEO, this could mean that you’re performing actions that are actually breaking the law without you even knowing it. So, if you commonly engage with search engine optimization on your website then you should begin becoming more familiar with intellectual property and how it’s relatable to SEO. Firstly, let’s look at what each is separate to get a better understanding of what we’re talking about.

Defining SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization which is a form of digital marketing that entails optimizing your website for the purpose of ranking highly for particular keyword searches in search engine results pages. The higher your page ranks, the more likely you are to receive website traffic from users that are typing keywords into search engines. The types of optimizations that you make to your website are influenced by the ranking factors that search engines claim they consider when determining which websites should rank highly.

What is intellectual property?

In marketing terms, intellectual property is a form of concepts and ideas that have been created by your business and not been thought of or created by anyone else. They are unique to your business which means by implementing intellectual property laws to your ideas prevents it from being used by anyone else and protects their value.

Intellectual property online

Intellectual property is also relevant to resources that are online, particularly as we can find so much information and content on the world wide web. The laws help to protect their accreditation and make sure that it’s not to be used without consent by anyone else. This is the reason why it’s important to be aware of the intellectual property laws that are out there as they can also be relatable to your SEO optimization strategy. Here are 5 intellectual property laws in particular, that you should be aware of as a website owner or SEO professional.

Image Copyrights

One SEO strategy that is useful for webmasters when it comes to optimizing their website is using images on their website and applying image alt tags to help describe what the image is about. In doing so, it can help search engines gain a better understanding of what the image is about and why it’s been used on the specific page in question. Whilst it’s great to show images on your website to make it aesthetically pleasing, many people tend to use other images presented on the internet rather than using an image that they’ve taken personally.

Just because an image is presented on a website or on an image search engine, this doesn’t mean that anyone has the right to use the image for their own benefit or cause. It requires consent from the original publisher or be taken from a royalty-free website such as Pexels or Unsplash where you can download images freely. There are also paid options available.


SEO experts should be well aware that it’s a major taboo to duplicate content and plagiarise information from other websites. This is because Google has produced guidelines that advise websites from using duplicate content on their own website or taken from other websites with the risk of them being penalized and their rankings dropping massively in search engines.

Sometimes, there are cases where you may need to produce content that will be similar to ones that are presented on other sites e.g. making users aware of laws or guidelines that are well known in your industry. If you’re required to do this, ensure that you cite the sources where the original information comes from so it’s clear that it’s from an external party and not content that’s your own. Linking to external information can also be beneficial.

Sharing copyrighted material

Other forms of content that can be useful to engage your users are the use of videos and sound on your website. This helps to attract the user’s attention quicker when providing information and knowledge to them and increases the chances of them staying on your website for longer which is something that search engines love to see in order to rank your website higher in the results pages.

Similar to using images that aren’t yours to use, downloading or using video and sound content is illegal if you use it without the original producer’s consent. Similarly, if you choose to download this content and share it with another party you’re likely to receive the same repercussions.

Mistaken Creative Common License

Mistakes can happen in business, even when we think we’ve taken all the right steps to prevent it from happening. This can be common when it comes to checking whether a particular piece of content is under a creative commons license or the type of license isn’t the one than originally thought. It’s important to be aware that there are different types of creative commons licenses that have different guidelines with how content can be used.

Some licenses will prevent the use of the content being used for commercial purposes, whilst others don’t allow images to be modified in any way. Before you decide on using a piece of content, be sure to double-check whether it can be used for your intended purpose so that you run less of a copyright risk or possibly breaking any laws.

Legal issues with SEO 

In an ideal world, you would take all the required steps in order to have your website ranking top in search engines. However, some of these steps can put you at risk which is why it’s important to be familiar with these before taking action to optimize your website.

Don’t be lazy with your SEO strategy and try to avoid using someone else’s work that you’re passing off as your own. Instead, be sure to have fresh and unique content on your website that is useful for your users and prevent the reputation of your website and your own, being damaged.

Jamie Costello is a Junior Legal Assistant based in the UK. He regularly keeps up to date with his industry news and likes to express his knowledge through creative writing. He’s previously worked alongside a design agency in his current role to help produce this particular article but generally writes on various topics that are related to his industry. You can find him on Twitter @jamie88costello


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