Did the June 2019 update bury quack medical sites?

djbaxter

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Has Google finally adjusted its algorithm to deprioritize quack content? Dr. Mercola thinks so.
by Orac, RespectfulInsolence.com
June 26, 2019

When it comes to people like Mike Adams, Joe Mercola, Kelly Brogan, and various other purveyors of the “holistic lifestyle,” alternative medicine, and hostility towards conventional medicine, it might not start out as grift (although in Mike Adams’ case, it did), but inevitably it becomes all about the grift. And how do these sellers of the quack lifestyle make their money? They sell things: supplements, books, videos, and the like, as well as advertising by other quacks. Their key tool for making their money is, of course, their websites, many of which have for a long time ranked very high on Google searches. Over time, they learned, often skillfully, to use social media, especially YouTube and Facebook, to promote their brand and wares. YouTube and Facebook were particularly valuable because they allowed quacks to host their videos free of bandwith charges. Not only that, but they provided means of monetization of those videos, while Facebook allowed the formation of public pages that could become quite popular and provided further means for quacks to promote their brand. ....

When Google briefly delisted Mike Adams in 2017 for what were probably SEO shenanigans that were against Google policy, he lost his ever-lovin’ mind (as he usually does when something doesn’t go his way) spinning conspiracy theories. So it was with interest that I saw this Facebook post by “holistic” psychiatry quack and antivaxer Kelly Brogan:




Brogan, you might recall, gained some notoriety when she was featured at one of Goop’s wellness summits, particularly because of her promotion of antivaccine nonsense.

Joe Mercola is complaining too because his website’s traffic has plummeted 99%:
Google traffic to Mercola.com has plummeted by about 99% over the past few weeks. The reason? Google’s June 2019 broad core update, which took effect June 3,1 removed most Mercola.com pages from its search results. As reported by Telaposts.com:2
“The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted the rankings of websites in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages. Several aspects of the algorithm were changed which caused some sites to gain visibility and others to lose visibility. Generally speaking, sites negatively impacted will see a drop in rankings for many or all of important keywords or key phrases which they used to rank well for … The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted sites across the web, however, I am personally seeing the most impact on News and Health sites.”
Mercola continued his complaint:
Now, any time you enter a health-related search word into Google, such as “heart disease” or “Type 2 diabetes,” you will not find Mercola.com articles in the search results. The only way to locate any of my articles at this point is by searching for “Mercola.com heart disease,” or “Mercola.com Type 2 diabetes.” Even skipping the “.com” will minimize your search results, and oftentimes the only pages you’ll get are blogs, not my full peer-reviewed articles. Negative press by skeptics has also been upgraded, which means if you simply type in my name none of my articles will come but what you will find are a deluge of negative articles voicing critiques against me in your searches. Try entering my name in Yahoo or Bing and you will see completely different results.

Read more...
 

Yan Gilbert

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I've seen some people pointing out that Mercola had some serious SEO technical issues that caused this ranking loss.

However, if that is not the case, I have strong reservations about Google purposefully adjusting the algorithm to bury types of sites.

There are many claiming that Google ( which includes Youtube ) is trying to minimize the visibility of conservative voices. While it seems that many in the technology culture are left leaning and secretly happy that this is (or may be) happening, it is not a harbor of anything good.

As much as people claiming that the algorithm is 'fair', it can be manipulated just like any computer program by adjusting the inputs. The EAT ranking signals can be used for selecting certain outlets as more authoritative than others. At which point, say goodbye to important alternative voices, once money powers get a hold of things, which it eventually always does (if not already done).
 

djbaxter

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Still, there's no doubt that Google along with Facebook and other social media sites are under increased pressure to devalue anti-science and quackery websites. Personally, I would like to see this happen.

That said, if you read the comments from Mercola and others in the article, it's pretty clear that they have little to no understanding of how search engines work. Thus, anything that harms their sites or visibility just gets thrown into the mix with the rest of their conspiracy theories.

I'm just happy whenever the quacks are unhappy. :)
 

djbaxter

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See also


and

 

tedchan

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Mercola had tons of low quality content and horrendous and annoying CTAs too.

I do sort of wonder if sticking fact checked on articles that didn't really seem fact checked could trigger a penalty.
 
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Yan Gilbert

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Hmm, yes. I wonder if that discrepancy shows up with other types of searches

If it does, then that begs the question why/how are Trends and autofill data different?

If Trends and autofill data do line up on other searches, then, yeah, it would point to something odd going on.
 

Yan Gilbert

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Created a new thread so as not to derail the conspiracy type discussion:
 

djbaxter

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Google Broad Core Updates And Why Some Health Sites Affected
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
July 11, 2019

Google’s John Mueller has stated that Google’s broad core updates have not been targeting health sites. But there is a perception that some health related sites tend to be sensitive to Google updates. What kinds of changes can affect health sites while not specifically targeting health sites?

User Satisfaction Metrics
Google has a long history of using their log files to help deduce what kinds of web pages satisfy users for certain kinds of search queries. Factors like click through rate were used in the past for quality control, for understanding what users want.

Rank Brain and Neural Matching
Over the past few years Google introduced Neural Matching and Rank Brain to help Google better understand search queries (neural matching) and to help Google understand web pages better by matching pages to concepts (rank brain).

In my opinion, a better understanding of what users mean when they ask a query could affect health related sites. Health topics can be divided between strictly scientific meanings and alternative and so-called natural cures.
Thus, if Google better understands that a query requires a scientific response, then it makes sense that sites promoting non-medical alternative solutions will suffer.

It’s not that Google is targeting health sites, but that Google is getting better at understanding what users want and are satisfied with when they make these kinds of queries.

The Mercola managed to sail through the 2018 Google broad core updates, even though it offered the same kind of “alternative” health information that other losing sites offered.

That points in the direction that an additional signal was added or possibly that other signals were dialed down.

Even if your site is not in the health niche, it may be useful to read the conversation about health sites and traffic losses. Whatever is affecting them could be affecting your sites as well.
Read more...
 

tedchan

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Our site in the health niche saw a 20% traffic jump this week. Wonder if it's a trailing part of the Core Update. We didn't see any movement during the broader rollout with Mercola was hit.
 

TJE

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Still, there's no doubt that Google along with Facebook and other social media sites are under increased pressure to devalue anti-science and quackery websites. Personally, I would like to see this happen.

That said, if you read the comments from Mercola and others in the article, it's pretty clear that they have little to no understanding of how search engines work. Thus, anything that harms their sites or visibility just gets thrown into the mix with the rest of their conspiracy theories.

I'm just happy whenever the quacks are unhappy. :)
Quack Science ruins lives. That's a fact, not an opinion. Mercola isn't a bad guy and he's actually among the best. He's a real MD with real info. I'm sure Google isn't doing this.
 

djbaxter

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Quack Science ruins lives. That's a fact, not an opinion.
Agreed.

Mercola isn't a bad guy and he's actually among the best. He's a real MD with real info. I'm sure Google isn't doing this.
He pushes quack science. Dr. Oz is a real MD too. He also pushes quack science.
 

vvo

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Hi, there! I think Google identify content`s meaning much better than ever before using NLP API and Cloud Vision API.

Google’s NLP API takes the content and splits it up into what we understand as “entities”. The Entities are shown in colour with a little number below each one. The numbers are actually relative rankings based on the SALIENCE of the entity within the article itself.

Cloud Vision API reports if picture about medical content or not and show this information in Safebrowsing tab. Medical sites under control of Safebrowsing. Google thinks that content many of them can harm or misinform users.

High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation.

High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
I think Google algo takes into account some templates of professional medical style. Freshness is very important thing as well.

High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.
Websites or pages without a beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating. E-A-T and other page quality characteristics do not play a role for these pages.
My favorite example from Google search quality evaluator guidelines:
Article titled "Getting Rid Of Toxins After The Holiday Season"
● Low quality MC
● Misleading page title
● Lacking E-A-T

The title of the article is misleading and does not reflect the actual content of the page. The MC does not explain how to get rid of toxins or what the word "toxins" in the headline refers to.
The content also has many problems: the writing quality is poor, and the article includes meaningless statements such as "water therapy is one of the easiest ways of beauty regimen since it will give enough moisture on the skin". The article fails to cite sources, and there is no evidence of E-A-T.
 
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