• Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In    
  • Create Account
  LongeCity
              Advocacy & Research for Unlimited Lifespans

Photo

Google Is Taking Censorship of Health Websites to The Next Level

censorship google

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Engadin

  • Guest
  • 87 posts
  • 216
  • Location:Madrid, Spain.
  • NO

Posted 10 August 2019 - 07:13 PM


S O U R C E :    SelfHacked

 

 

 

 

AdobeStock_124758500.jpeg

 

Something interesting happened in the health world recently, and I haven’t seen any news stories about it.

 

Google is deliberately censoring all “non-mainstream” health websites that have gained any kind of serious traction, without exception.

 

They’re not showing information that users want to see, or respecting what they’re searching for. Instead, Google is taking it on themselves to decide what health information you’re allowed to see, and changing your search results from behind the scenes.

 

I know what you’re probably thinking: this sounds like a conspiracy theory.

 

But that’s exactly why I wrote this post. If you look at the evidence I present in this post, you’ll quickly see that this is no kooky conspiracy theory — it’s real, and barely even a secret.

 

Now, when I say “censor,” I mean that Google has deliberately placed a systematic penalty on the vast majority of health sites to make sure that they don’t show up on the first page of search results. SelfHacked and Examine are just two of the sites that have been caught up in Google’s latest “blacklist” — but we’re also far from the only ones.

 

You can easily see this in action for yourself. In order to find SelfHacked content on Google now, you have to add “SelfHacked” to your search term or else it won’t show up. This isn’t the case if you try the same searches on Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, where we still rank highly for many health-related search terms. (DuckDuckGo has additional benefits in that they don’t track you and serve much fewer ads, by the way.)

 

This isn’t just a change that affects service providers like us — these changes are also going to have a major effect on everyone’s ability to find accurate, scientific, and useful health information online.

 

 

Google as the Thought Police

 

Google has become the Thought Police for health content.

 

There’s been a lot of news about big tech companies de-platforming and censoring controversial figures. 

 

We also know about Google firing James Damore and their ideological echo chamber.

 

There have been rumors that Google is working with China, even though they won’t work with the United States military. Peter Thiel recently wrote a piece in the NY Times describing their willingness to work for China, but not the US.

 

We also know that Google is moving away from their “don’t be evil” mantra, which is quite a low bar to begin with, if you ask me.

 

But what isn’t getting coverage is that Google has started censoring high-quality health content — even content that is backed up by research published in conventional medical and academic journals.

 

Some people have suggested that Google is in the hands of Big Pharma. They cite evidence of Google’s partnership with GSK, and their willingness to share their data and forge business partnerships with them.

 

Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I don’t subscribe to Google being bought out by big pharma — or at least, I don’t believe that’s their main influence.

 

I chalk it up to Google’s ideological echo chamber.

 

The question is, who gave Google the authority to say that SelfHacked and the hundreds of other sites they are censoring are not reliable websites?

 

For example, Google’s John Mueller keeps claiming that Google ranks sites that display “expertise,” “authoritativeness,” and “trustworthiness” (E-A-T). He has even suggested that website owners like me can improve our site’s rankings by asking other experts to weigh in on whether our site has these characteristics, and adjust it accordingly until relevant experts approve.

 

The thing is, no matter who I ask, they’ve all told me that SelfHacked is already authoritative, trustworthy, and displays expertise. You can look at any of our posts and judge for yourself.

 

Yet they’ve obviously decided to penalize us anyways. As it turns out, what Google says about their new policy is clearly a lie.

 

The bottom line is that Google has not been transparent about what they are doing, and hasn’t publicly announced any of the search changes that we’re going to be talking about in this post. But the evidence is easy to find if you know where to look.

 

 

Google Voted Down a Proposal to Not Censor Information

 

In 2007, the founders and shareholders of Google voted down an anti-censorship proposal for the company. Some of the text of the failed proposal stated that [1]:

 

  • The company will not engage in proactive censorship.
  • The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
  • Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
  • The company will document all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

 

These all seem reasonable, right? Well, Google doesn’t think so.

 

 

What is Google’s Job?

 

First, let’s quickly back up and think about what Google’s role should be when it comes to their relationships with you and I, the users.

 

Google’s job isn’t to take sides in a debate — it’s to give you the information that you’re searching for.

 

They are medium through which to find information, and it isn’t their job to tell you what you should be looking for, or what you should or shouldn’t be allowed to know about.

 

They are pretending to be an unbiased medium — but in actuality, they are making strong statements simply by deciding which sites they rank and don’t rank.

 

If they had a broad algorithm that applied equally to every site, that would be one thing. And if people are “cheating” and using “black-hat” SEO tricks to inflate their rankings, then this would also be totally understandable for them to penalize.

 

But it seems like they decided that there’s no way to algorithmically penalize certain sites — so instead they do it manually, behind the scenes, without telling anyone.

 

Without anyone noticing, they stopped showing the results of hundreds, if not thousands, of non-institutional health websites — some of them quite reputable and well-established.

 

 

Hundreds of Websites Got Severely Penalized by Google’s Updates

 

Now, let’s be clear: some of the sites in this list are indeed less trustworthy, and don’t have the highest-quality health information. Nonetheless, Google sure threw the baby out with the bathwater in their recent updates by penalizing every single site that they decided is not “mainstream” enough, no matter how good their science is.

 

This is only a fraction of the websites that got hit in Google updates over the past year. Each new Google update has knocked down more and more of these sites:

 

  • SelfHacked
  • Examine
  • WellnessMama
  • Mercola
  • MindBodyGreen
  • Dr. Axe
  • Dr. Weil
  • Chris Kresser
  • Bulletproof
  • Nootropedia
  • Kelly Brogan, M.D.
  • GreenMedInfo
  • Mark’s Daily Apple
  • PaleoHacks
  • BeBrainFit
  • DietVsDisease
  • The Third Wave
  • OrganicFacts
  • Robb Wolf
  • Dr Jockers
  • Top10HomeRemedies
  • EatThis
  • GundryMD
  • Nootriment
  • EveryDayHealth
  • GlobalHealingCenter
  • Patient.Info
  • Ruled.me
  • SteadyHealth

 

 

Google Now Ranks Objectively Bad Health Content

 

People use Google to search for about 1 billion health questions a day80% of Internet users have searched for a health-related topic online, according to a recent study.

 

Google used to have an implicit agreement with websites: produce great content and you will be ranked. Not anymore — at least, not for health websites.

 

The result of this interference is that Google now delivers and promotes objectively bad information on health topics. Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo deliver much better search results.

 

To be fair, Google was miles ahead of these other search engines for quite a while. But sometime in the past year, they decided to start ignoring their own time-tested algorithms in favor of manually penalizing hundreds, if not thousands, of health websites.

 

You can check it out for yourself: type any health topic in Google, and look at what comes up in the first 10 results. WebMD, Healthline, and some hospitals usually. Then type it in Bing: you’ll see that Bing gives better and more relevant results every time.

 

Just so we’re clear, I’m not just talking about anti-vaccine content, which we already know that big tech is taking steps to censor. I’m talking about websites that are extremely diligent about getting the science right, and who reference every statement with a scientific study — including SelfHacked, Examine, and some others.

 

Literally every health website has been penalized that is not affiliated with mainstream hospitals or institutions (such as the Mayo or Cleveland clinic), or that is not WebMD or Healthline (the 2 largest sites).

 

At the moment, the only other exceptions are health websites that are still small enough that Google hasn’t gotten around to them yet — but you can bet that those penalties will be coming, especially if they ever start to become more popular.

 

All these recent changes have started to create an online vacuum that is now being quickly filled by much lower-quality “health sites” that promote unscientific — and sometimes even dangerous — information.

 

 

Institutional Websites are Actually Less Scientific than SelfHacked

 

Defining Institutional Websites

 

When I say “institutional” health websites, I am referring to sites that started in the 90’s — often for hospitals or government institutions — and which tend to adopt a uniform position in their content.

 

They often even take information right from each other’s websites — which is not only lazy, but can also create the illusion of false consensus on otherwise very complex and hotly-debated health-related issues.

 

Some well-known examples of “institutional” sites include:

 

  • WebMD (which openly partners with pharmaceutical companies)
  • Healthline (originally launched in 1999, it owns Drugs.com, Livestrong, Greatist, MedicalNewsToday)
  • VeryWellHealth (partners with the Cleveland Clinic, started as an About.com company)
  • Many Hospital websites (such as UMMC, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Sloan-Kettering, NYU, etc.)
  • Governmental institutions (NIH/Pubmed, CDC, ODS, FDA, etc.)
  • Other medical news sites (which are almost always owned by WebMD or Healthline)

 

Apart from this “protected” group of websites, every other reasonably-sized website has been penalized, censored, and no longer shows up on the first page of Google for any popular search term or keyword.

 

 

Where Institutional Websites Get Their Information

 

The issue with these institutional websites is that they don’t take their information directly from peer-reviewed scientific literature, as SelfHacked or Examine do.

 

This is a big problem.

 

The two main sources of references that institutional health websites get their information from are:

 

  • Other websites that these sites deem automatically “credible”, such as the Mayo Clinic, CDC, etc. (Healthline, WebMD, and VeryWellHealth do this)
  • Interviews with doctors (the Cleveland Clinic is a good example of this)

 

Occasionally, institutional websites will link to peer-reviewed sources — but these only make up a small percentage of their links.

 

Most importantly, these sites don’t reference where they get each statement from.

 

Their content is also almost always written by people who have no scientific qualifications at all — which makes it all the more troubling when they don’t carefully cite the sources for their claims.

 

 

WebMD

 

Although WebMD’s name sure makes it sound like medical doctors are the ones writing the posts, it’s unlikely that any of the writers are actually M.D.s. In fact, I would bet that the vast majority of their writers have no medical or scientific credentials whatsoever.

 

I suspect that this is at least part of the reason why they never even tell you who is writing their posts: they don’t want you to know that it’s not an M.D., or someone without any credentials.

 

As you can see here, the sources for this post about NAC (N-acetylcysteine) by WebMD come only from hospitals (Sloan-Kettering, NYU Medical Center, and the University of Maryland Medical Center).

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-14.40.48-480x188.p

 

When I tried searching for the references, I can’t even find the article written by NYU and University of Maryland Medical Center.

 

Sloan-Kettering’s article contains 43 references to peer-reviewed studies — which might sound impressive until you compare it to our post on NAC, which has 207 references. In fact, even Examine’s article on NAC beats WebMD handily, with 107 references to peer-reviewed studies.

 

 

Healthline

 

I’ve actually interviewed several people who used to write for Healthline. They would frequently write about extremely serious and complex medical topics, such as cancer. I asked these people if they would be interested in writing a SelfHacked article. They all replied similarly, to the effect of: “oh, I don’t have the necessary background for that. Healthline articles are easy to write — I wouldn’t be qualified to write SelfHacked articles.”

 

Screenshot-2019-08-08-08.55.15-480x377.p

 

VerywellHealth

 

I decided to check out a random post on VerywellHealth after seeing them come up in the top 5 results on Google for NAC.

 

(SelfHacked used to rank as the first search result for quite a long time — now, we’re not even in the top 100 results on Google.)

 

Their article was totally discredited after I read these statements:

 

  1. Due to a lack of supporting research, it’s too soon to recommend N-acetylcysteine for any condition.”
  2. Although N-acetylcysteine may offer certain health benefits, self-treating a chronic health problem with N-acetylcysteine supplements may have serious health consequences.”
  3. Little is known about the safety of long-term use of N-acetylcysteine.”

 

The problem is, all of these statements are incorrect. Where are the specific references for these statements? We don’t know, because none of the references appear alongside these statements.

 

This post’s author has no scientific training — nor does she seem to be particularly adept at researching the scientific basis for her claims:

 

  1. There’s not a single study which mentions any kind of serious health consequences from taking normal dosages of NAC. Hospitals have been safely using high dosages of NAC for decades to treat patients with Tylenol poisoning.
  2. A typical pill of NAC has about 600mg of NAC, which is a form of cysteine. Cysteine is an essential amino acid found in the foods we eat. The average person will get more than 600mg of cysteine a day. If you eat 70g of protein a day — which is not even a lot — you would already be getting around 600-650mg of cysteine in your diet [2].
  3. NAC has been quite extensively researched and used for decades. Close to one thousand clinical trials of NAC have been published — and anyone can see many of these for themselves with a quick search on PubMed!

 

VeryWellHealth’s claim that their content was reviewed by “a board-certified physician” is meaningless since we don’t know who this person is, their scientific background, or their medical area of specialty. The vast majority of board-certified M.D.s have little in-depth knowledge of dietary supplements — and yet they are being tasked to review these posts.

 

In addition, given the inaccuracy of the content from VeryWellHealth, I have a hard time believing that anyone with half of a brain reviewed the content — yet they claim a “board-certified doctor” reviewed it. What a sham!

 

Note: in a bizarre coincidence, right after I wrote this post (August 5th), they changed the content and removed the false information. This shows that they realized it wasn’t good. But questions still remain about the reliability of their content, why they were ranking in the first place, and why Google sees them as reliable.

 

As you can see from this excerpt from one of our company’s science discussion channels on Slack, I originally found Verywellhealth’s post on NAC on July 12th 2019, and began writing about it later that month:

 

Screenshot-2019-08-08-08.30.44-480x427.p

 

Mayoclinic

 

Let’s take a look at Mayoclinic’s post on Creatine. This post came up as the top result on Google. You can bet this means that websites like WebMD, Healthline, and VeryWellHealth will soon all be using it as a primary reference, and will take whatever it says totally for granted.

 

The problem is…

 

  1. The post is not comprehensive, which means the author didn’t do in-depth research before writing about it.
  2. It has no listed author, so we have no idea who even wrote it – and more importantly what their qualifications or background is.
  3. It does not list any reviewers, so we don’t know who reviewed it — or if it was even reviewed by experts at all.
  4. The references DO NOT go to peer-reviewed journals, and it’s hard to track down where they’re coming from. Many of the sites they do link to are often behind expensive paywalls.
  5. You can’t see which piece of information is found in which of the three references provided. This means it could easily take me all day to track some piece of information down — not to mention all the money I’d have to spend to access the sources in the first place! Every additional reference makes it exponentially harder to see where the information came from.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-16.58.05-480x138.p

 

So not only is the quality of the content not good, it’s hard to verify anything they are saying. They seem to expect you as the reader to simply have blind faith in their content!

 

This is exactly why SelfHacked references every single statement we make, and why each of our posts are written by qualified scientists.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-08-08.56.11-480x379.p

 

Clearly, Google is fine with these sub-par sources of information dominating your search results – as long as it comes from ‘trusted’ institutions.

 

 

Cleveland Clinic

 

The Cleveland Clinic often gets its information from interviews with doctors.

 

The problem is your average medical doctor is simply way too busy keeping up with the demands of treating their patients.

 

There just aren’t enough hours left over in the day for them to also go and read what all the latest medical and scientific journals are saying about the newest supplements and other “health hacks” — and then write comprehensive posts about them online!

 

Therefore, you likely won’t be getting the very latest scientific health information from interviews with doctors.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-08-08.57.15-480x362.p

 

 

Where SelfHacked Gets Its Information

 

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the entire health and medical industry. We link almost exclusively to medical, peer-reviewed studies, and which are usually available for you to check out on PubMed.

 

We especially never link to third party websites — we are only interested in the original scientific sources themselves, not someone else’s say-so. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source, from the mouths of the very scientists who are doing the work.

 

We also believe in the concept of “trust, but verify.” To implement this, we make sure that every statement has scientific references at the end, so that you don’t just have to blindly “trust” us. In other words, we want it to be as easy as possible for you to check what we’re saying for yourself. We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically-valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

 

Our writing team is also made up of trained M.D.s, Ph.D.s, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and other certified health and wellness specialists.

 

Everyone who applies to join our science team goes through the strictest vetting process in the health industry — and in fact we often end up rejecting applicants who have written for the institutional health websites, because they can’t pass our rigorous tests!

 

Everyone who joins our team must pass long, technical science tests, as well as challenging assessments of their logical reasoning and reading comprehension skills. They then submit test articles that are reviewed by our team of scientists to make sure that their work is up to our standards.

 

Finally, at least two scientists review each post after it is written.

 

Any writer who works for us is continually monitored by our internal peer-review process, and if we see anyone making significant science errors, we don’t let them write for us again.

 

There is no other health website that has designed such a rigorous process to vet writers.

 

It took us years to build these processes and refine it to where it is today. And as we’ve grown as a company and had more resources at our disposal, we’ve even gone back and re-written older articles that no longer meet our evolving standards for quality.

 

Yet, with all our rigorous processes in place, Google has decided to make it harder for you to reach us and find our content. Apparently, they think that we should never be allowed to rank on the first page of your search results. This has actually cut our traffic by 90% in the past year alone, despite constantly making improvements to our scientific research and writing practices.

 

 

Google Doesn’t Care About What You Want to Find

 

Search Intent

 

There’s a phrase in the search engine industry called “search intent.”

 

This is actually where Google shines the brightest in terms of tech. What this means is that they use algorithms to interpret and predict the kind of content you want, even if you didn’t use the exact same words as some of the most relevant search results.

 

By becoming better at guessing what you “really” want to see, search providers like Google can deliver content that satisfies you better than if they took your search terms entirely literally. This is great, and is one of the reasons why Google was traditionally better than other search engines.

 

Bing doesn’t understand on a deeper level what you want, and they more heavily rely on the words in the title, H2 headings, the URL, the content of the post, etc…

 

So Bing is a “dumber” search engine in certain ways.

 

The problem is, Google has recently decided to ignore what you want to see, and instead to show you what they want you to see.

 

 

In Health, Google Doesn’t Show You What You Want to See

 

While I think there’s a lot of promise in “natural” or non-mainstream health strategies, I also think that there are a lot of people who hype up natural health treatments.

 

Whether you believe in natural cures or treatments for cancer or not, if someone were to type in the term “natural cancer cures” or “natural cancer treatments”, it’s pretty obvious that they would want to see natural cures or treatments for cancer.

 

This seems obvious — and a year ago, Google would have shown these results. If you were to try the same thing now, however, you would not get the results that you wanted for your search query.

 

What this means is Google has made it clear that it doesn’t care about what you want to find, or what your intent is to find for health information — instead they will give you the information that they want you to see.

 

Whether there are natural cures or treatments for cancer can be a topic of debate, but it’s a different question when you search for it and they don’t show you the information you want to see.

 

This currently applies to any term or idea you want to see in health. You will not get the posts you want to see, but rather the posts that Google wants you to see.

 

 

Top Results for “Natural Cancer Cures” and “Natural Cancer Treatments” on Google

 

The top 10 results are posts that all disagree with natural cancer treatments, or that aren’t even relevant.

 

Here are top posts that come up, where the titles say it all:

 

  • Natural Cancer ‘Cures’: What Are the Risks? – Stories at Yale Medicine
  • The Truth behind Three Natural Cancer “Cures” – Memorial Sloan-Kettering
  • Alternative cancer treatments: 10 options to consider – Mayo Clinic
  • Cancer is ‘natural.’ The best treatments for it aren’t – STAT
  • Pictures of Cancer ‘Cures’ That Don’t Work – WebMD

 

My personal opinion is that there is a lot of quackery in the “natural cancer cures” space, but it’s not Google’s job to decide that. Google’s job is to give people the information that they want to see.

 

 

Top Results for “Natural Cancer Cures” on Bing

 

As you can see, it’s a world of a difference when you search “natural cancer cures” on Bing. Even though Bing is “dumber” than Google and doesn’t understand search intent as much, they still do a much better job at providing posts that people want to read.

 

  • Top 10 Natural & Maybe Best Cancer Cures
  • Treating Cancer Naturally: 11 Strategies That Work
  • 10 Natural Cancer Treatments to Consider – Dr. Axe
  • Cancer: Forbidden Cures – Natural Cancer Treatment
  • Top seven natural cures for cancer that got buried by the government agencies
  • Cancer: Treatments & Home Remedies – Organic Facts
  • Unapproved but Effective Cancer Cures – Health Impact News
  •  

Again, I am not taking a position on whether any of these treatments work, or whether these posts are all full quackery. My position is that search engines should display the information that you want to see — not the information that they want you to see.

 

If Google wants, they can warn people that a site is untrustworthy or controversial in their opinion. I have no problem with that. My problem is they are doing this without telling the users at all. They are manually adjusting their algorithms to show you the information that they want you to see.

 

Given that people rely on Google to give them the information that they are seeking, this is an abuse of power and a breach of trust with its users.

 

 

Google is Taking a Minority Position and Pushing Their Ideology on People

 

Recently, Google has been in the news for banning some right-wing pundits on YouTube, who they claim violated their policies against incitement.

 

It’s true that the figures they banned were quite controversial, and had relatively small followings. Also, they at least bothered to explain — publicly — that these individuals had acted against their policies, and that this was why they were removed.

 

I personally don’t agree that Google should be the arbiter of who is too right-wing, even if I don’t share the views of the people they banned.

 

But when it comes to non-mainstream healthcare — whether you call it “natural,” “alternative,” or “integrative” medicine —  a sizeable majority of Americans across the socioeconomic and political spectrum believe it to be safe and effective. That means it isn’t a fringe thing.

 

According to a Harris poll, two in three Americans view alternative therapies as safe (69%) and effective (63%), and half think they are reliable (50%) [3].

 

All in all, around 2/3 people think “alternative” therapies are effective. Quite a lot of doctors, scientists, and health professionals will agree on that. This is not a fringe topic in 2019 — it’s actually the mainstream position.

 

Mainstream healthcare is failing people. We spend 20% of our money on a broken healthcare system, and people are sicker than ever.

 

So it’s understandable that more and more people are looking to take their health into their own hands.

 

I fixed all of the health issues that debilitated me and left me unable to hold a job or go to school. No doctor could figure it out. I “Googled” information, read a lot of PubMed articles, and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

 

I tried to look at WebMD, but the information was either irrelevant or unhelpful.

 

But Google has recently decided to foist their echo chamber on everyone, now that they have a monopoly-like control over internet searches. And now they’re using their influence to suit their own interests.

 

Google should not take a minority position in such an important topic and foist their ideology on people. At the very least, they should make their decision to suppress alternative medicine clear and known to its users.

 

This is the slippery slope that people like myself were afraid about when they started censoring right-wing pundits. They have started to chart an ideological path that they want people to follow, and there is simply no telling where it will end.

 

Now we are at a point where they are censoring the health information that a majority of Americans want to see.

 

Given that Google is getting into bed with the pharmaceutical companies, we have to ask ourselves if there’s a conflict of interest here.

 

 

What’s Next?

 

Imagine someone is searching for “miracle stories about Jesus.” If you type that in Google, all of the results will come up with searches that speak about that exact topic.

 

Now we can reasonably guess that Google is ideologically opposed to religion and doesn’t believe religion is good for people.

 

So one day, they may decide to only promote posts that say “why miracle stories about Jesus are false.” They can make an argument that they are protecting people because ‘religion can be harmful’.

 

Even if you don’t believe in Jesus – or God for that matter – you might still find that problematic. Why? Because it’s not up to Google to make that decision for you. Google’s job is to give you the information that you are searching for.

 

The fact that Google is deeply involved in making decisions based on their ideology is very problematic, and there’s no telling where it will stop.

 

 

How Do I Know This is Censorship Rather than an Algorithm?

 

It seems like Google went to lengths to penalize the sites I mentioned.

 

You can see that by looking at Google’s rankings.

 

You’ll usually notice that the first 5-7 results come from the aforementioned institutional websites. Things get a bit wonky from there, as the least credible websites with low content quality start to rank.

 

Example #1: Cardarine Search

 

As an example, for the past 4 years we were ranked as either the first or second Google result for “Cardarine“, a research chemical used by bodybuilders. Our article is science-based, fair, and balanced.

 

We are now the 10th result for cardarine, which I found shocking because the institutional websites didn’t even write posts about it, so it was a relatively easy term to rank for.

 

Here are the sites that came up:

 

  • Sciencescape.org
  • Bluecloud.org
  • Woho.org
  • Lftw.org
  • Cureaidsreport.org
  • Jpnm.org
  • quinnova.com
  • Dimockcenter.org

 

All of these sites are among the least reliable I’ve ever seen. They all make sweeping and dramatic claims about the benefits of cardarine while minimizing the potential side effects and risks. Cardarine is a substance we don’t really have much information about, is not an approved drug, and doesn’t have much evidence to back it up.

 

Many of these sites are owned by the same person or entity, as can be seen by the similar styles.

 

These sites are more like promotional pages to get you to buy this substance. They either sell it, or make a commission from those who do.

 

These websites all have horrible “domain authority”, which is a rough measure of the “trust” that a website builds up over time. Basically, after years of SelfHacked expertise building up, Google has decided that our content is less trustworthy than these obvious scam pages that now all appear in the top 10 search results.

 

Now I am sure Google will catch up and penalize these sites eventually. Nonetheless, if Google’s recent changes were the result of a tweak to their algorithm, it almost surely would’ve immediately detected that these sites are untrustworthy. However, if these changes in search results are based on manual penalties, then it makes sense that it would now take them considerably longer to catch all the countless smaller websites that are spreading untrustworthy information.

 

These websites are now growing unchecked because Google penalized the more reliable sites, leaving a vacuum for sites with low domain rankings to spring up and spread false and highly-biased information.

 

Check out the growth of some of these sites over time:

 

Sciencescape

 

At the time of writing this, Sciencescape is currently the top Google result for cardarine.

 

Their post is titled: “GW501516: Shocking Secrets About Cardarine Revealed”.

 

The domain has a ranking of 38 on Ahrefs, a service that site owners like me use to track the performance of websites. Their score is actually quite low, especially for a site appearing as the top result. By comparison, SelfHacked has a domain ranking of 72, nearly twice as high as Sciencescape.

 

Yet this scam website was able to grow super fast in only 4 months. Their content is also extremely unreliable and biased, like the rest of the websites listed above.

 

It’s also unclear who owns this site, or what their connection is to the company that they are promoting to buy cardarine from.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.22.15-480x371.p

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.33.24-480x222.p

 

 

Bluecloud

 

Bluecloud is the second Google result for cardarine at the time of writing this.

 

Like Sciencescape, its domain ranking on Ahrefs is also surprisingly low — just 39.

 

The post is titled: “Cardarine: Stupid-Simple Guide To GW-501516 – Shocking Info Inside!”

 

Since January of 2019, Bluecloud has three times the organic traffic of SelfHacked and Examine, with only a fraction of our content.

 

Their content is blatantly biased, low quality, and untrustworthy. It’s essentially a clear funnel to sell untested bodybuilding research chemicals. You can see their explosive growth since the beginning of the year.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.23.27-480x368.p

 

 

Example #2: Adrafinil Search

 

In another example, if you search on Google for “adrafinil,” you can check out the top 5 results.

 

There are 35,000 people searching for “adrafinil” every month — and even more if you include other terms people search for with it (such as “adrafinil dosage,” for example) — so this term gets a fair amount of traffic.

 

You would think that Google would be interested in making sure that all these people would get quality results for their search! Yet none of the top 5 results are comprehensive, and most of them are by upstart websites with relatively low domain authority:

 

  1. Wikipedia
  2. A new website called HealthTrends
  3. A Medium.com post by a Jonathan Roseland
  4. PubChem
  5. HVMN

 

If we look at the actual content, we will see that the Medium post is unreliable, not sourced, and not thorough. (Interestingly, Google penalized his main site, but trusts his content when it’s on Medium for some odd reason.)

 

On the other hand, the HealthTrends post is not too bad — but it’s nothing special, either. We can also see that healthtrends’ traffic is shooting up, probably because it no longer has to compete with all of the more comprehensive and scientifically-accurate health sites that were recently knocked out by Google. (Of course, if they continue to grow they’ll probably be in for an unpleasant surprise in one of Google’s next updates…)

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.59.52-480x378.p

 

PubChem is a site that no one but a professional chemist would be able to collect relevant information from. Check out their adrafinil post. Here’s what most of it looks like — but since Google deems them “trustworthy,” they will keep showing up even if their content is practically useless to most people:

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-18.04.27-480x376.p

 

If we look at the post from HVMN, we will likewise see a non-thorough and low-quality post. Nonetheless, we can see their site traffic growing quite rapidly — again, probably because all of their better competition has already been cleared out of Google’s public search results:

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-18.06.19-480x390.p

 

By contrast, our post on adrafinil was written by a legitimate scientist with a relevant Ph.D., and was also reviewed by a certified pharmacologist and PharmD. I wouldn’t say it’s our best post, necessarily — but it’s certainly better than any of the current top 5 results in terms of authoritativeness and quality. 

 

Yet, we only show up as the 70th result on Google, while the exact same post comes up in the top 10 on Bing!

 

 

Alpha GPC Search

 

If we search for Alpha GPC on Google, we will see the first 3 results are from WebMD, RXlist (owned by WebMD), and Neurohacker.

 

I actually know the guys from Neurohacker, and I like them. I’m guessing their site isn’t quite big enough to have appeared on Google’s radar yet — but I have a bad feeling that it won’t be much longer until they are targeted, too.

 

In any case, while they have some solid articles on their site, I have to admit that their alpha-GPC post isn’t one of them. This is literally the entire alpha-GPC post:

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-18.27.59-480x328.p

 

By comparison, our post on Alpha GPC is well-written, thorough, and authoritative. It was also written by experts in pharmacology, and was even medically reviewed by 2 additional relevant professionals and experts. It has 42 unique references going to Pubmed and peer-reviewed journals.

 

Yet our alpha-GPC post is not even in the top 100 results in Google. Since no one sees it, no one shares it, and if nothing changes it probably won’t ever rank.

 

Neurohacker’s traffic has been going up, and their domain authority ranking is 64 (compared to ours, which is currently 72). They are very close to the point where they will be on Google’s radar, at which point they’ll probably take a sudden, “mysterious” hit in their traffic. 

 

In any case, since this hasn’t happened yet, their post ranks highly on Google even though it barely has any relevant or useful content.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-18.35.02-480x376.p

 

 

Traffic to Non-Institutional Health Websites

 

As you will see, SelfHacked and Examine both got destroyed by Google rankings over the past year. Both sites are highly committed to scientific accuracy and quality of content. 

 

We both spoke to the top SEO experts over the past year and they are all dumbfounded.

 

However, when you look at the broader health field, hundreds of other sites got penalized, even those with some of the highest domain authority, such as Mercola.

 

 

Selfhacked

 

Let’s compare that to SelfHacked. As our content kept improving, our rankings kept getting lower. Every update made our traffic drop further.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.36.02-480x376.p

 

 

Examine

 

Let’s look at Examine.com.

 

Examine founder Sol Orwell created a post on Reddit trying to solicit feedback to understand why his traffic declined.

 

Screenshot-2019-08-07-17.37.42-480x370.p

 

 

Mercola

 

Mercola published that they have lost 99% of their Google traffic from the June 2019 Google Broad Core update. Kelly Brogan has made similar claims about her traffic.

 

Mercola has many millions of links going to his site from other sites. They’ve been writing health content since 1997. That’s twenty-two years of health content. They have an established brand.

 

No matter how many links from other sites that they have, Google destroyed them. No simple adjustment of an algorithm would do this.

 

Google clearly put a big penalty on Mercola, and it’s important to know that you won’t ever see any of his content if you don’t type his name into the search results.

 

 

Result of Censoring by Google

 

As a result of censoring, Google is inhibiting innovation in the health field. Sites like SelfHacked cannot continue to release independent and in-depth health content without getting Google traffic. Therefore, we will need to stop writing content sooner or later.

 

More importantly, it’s clear that Google is no longer ranking the best health and science content.

 

There was an unsaid pact that if a site creates the best content, Google will rank that site. Not anymore. Now you need to belong to Google’s ideology or else you won’t show up.

 

In addition to these censorship trends, Google is also slowly but surely increasing the number of ads they display on search results (making it more pay-to-play), and increasingly giving their own answers to topics (that they take from websites), so that you don’t even have to leave Google’s bubble in the first place.

 

These changes are making it extremely difficult to produce great, thorough, and independent science posts on topics while also being able to keep food on the table.

 

 

What You Can Do

 

1. When you search a term, add a site name that you trust and that has a lot of content that you’re interested in.

 

For example, search ‘NAC selfhacked.com” if you are looking to learn about NAC and want reliable, thorough, well-written and simplified content to come up.

 

I personally append SelfHacked or PubMed to health topics that I am interested in.

 

2. Use other search engines like DuckDuckGo. As ideological as Google is, they are a ruthless business. If something hurts their pocket, they will change. Google earns close to 80% of its revenue from search. All they have to see is people switching to a different search engine and they will change in the blink of an eye.

 

3. You can also click here to subscribe to our emails so that you are informed of the latest health information directly to your inbox.

 

4. Share this post, so that people understand what is happening, because news outlets are not talking about this, and it’s a very big change that has taken place under people’s noses.

 

Takeaway

 

Let’s be honest: “mainstream” systems of medicine definitely have their place, and I’m not trying to say that they’re all bad.

 

However, since we can’t always rely on conventional doctors to know everything, there is a genuine need for “alternative” sources to help bridge the knowledge gap — and that’s exactly why sites like SelfHacked exist. Helping people like you get a handle on the latest scientific developments in health and medicine is exactly what we’re passionate about here at SelfHacked, and is why we do what we do.

 

Unfortunately, Google is not interested in showing you the content you want to see (search intent). Rather, they will show you the content that they want you to see.

 

Google has foisted its ideological echo chamber onto the rest of the world.

 

As Google continues to roll out new updates that penalize more and more health sites like us, it’s going to become harder and harder for readers like you to access the latest and most cutting-edge health information.

 

They’ve boosted a small handful of sites that have the exact same ideology and ways of doing things. These sites don’t reference directly to the scientific literature and just have a circle jerk of linking to each other. It’s extremely difficult to trace the information to its sources.

 

They censored websites that are more diligent with science than these large institutions.

 

At the end of the day, this isn’t just about business for us — this is about our mission to serve you, our readers, as well as everyone’s freedom to decide what information they want for look for, without interference from a supposedly “neutral” search provider like Google.

 

 

 

P. S. 43 mins.

.

 


Edited by Engadin, 10 August 2019 - 07:16 PM.

  • Informative x 3
  • like x 1

#2 Engadin

  • Topic Starter
  • Guest
  • 87 posts
  • 216
  • Location:Madrid, Spain.
  • NO

Posted 11 August 2019 - 05:12 PM

Remember this? Google is now a pharmaceutical company

 

It all looks to fit a bit better now.


  • Disagree x 1

Click HERE to rent this BIOSCIENCE adspot to support LongeCity (this will replace the google ad above).

#3 Oakman

  • Location:CO

Posted 11 August 2019 - 08:41 PM

I did some searching and looking at website stats, and sadly, all that is mentioned in the 1st post is essentially truth. Very, very sad and this makes me upset with Google, esp as I have always favored them. Looks like DuckDuckgo is the new search. I just wish they had voice search, I've come to depend on that over typing all the time.

 

Also, this info should (somehow) be spread far and wide to alert everyone to this collapse of 'fair search' results.


  • Agree x 1

#4 Matt

  • Guest
  • 2,835 posts
  • 145
  • Location:United Kingdom
  • NO

Posted 12 August 2019 - 04:00 AM

If anyone is thinking about going into the diet/fitness/health niche right now, I'd say forget about it or focus on getting traffic in other ways than Google. Google has been destroying big and small websites (including my own) for the past year. 

 

Big brands have taken over and will consolidate power and wealth online because of these changes.

 

This is going to destroy more and more small businesses over time and will prevent new and interesting sites and perspectives from emerging because they won't be able to get the kind of visibility that was possible before. At least without serious amounts of money for marketing. But that is not how many of the biggest and best sites started... they just started with writing content.

 

I've been examining the SERPs in the past year and in my opinion, Google has successfully achieved what it set out to do since it was introducing these broad core updates from March 2018 onwards. I'd be surprised if we see any significant rollbacks... but it's possible that they might feel they went too far. 

 

I've noticed that even when searching for specific queries, Google is returning mainstream sites that might not even properly answer the query, above pages that are more in-depth and on point.

 

This is making it harder to actually find what I want when I'm doing research. I find myself thinking: Just give me what I asked for! But Google appears to be ignoring keyword modifiers for more specific queries.

Rather than show what you want, Google is showing you what it wants you to see and trying to protect you from yourself, kinda... Youtube is also going the exact same way for some niches like health and news.

 

I did allude to some 'well-known' sites being hit by these updates in my post on a thread linked below. I was thinking of SH... but didn't want to openly mention the site as they hadn't publicly discussed it at that time. It makes no sense because as SH says, they clearly have good E-A-T. Although, depending on the query, people with experience and who show expertise can rank, too (it's not just qualifications.) 

 

https://www.longecit...ther-platforms/

 

It's sad that Google has gone in this direction..

 

 


Edited by Matt, 12 August 2019 - 04:30 AM.


#5 Matt

  • Guest
  • 2,835 posts
  • 145
  • Location:United Kingdom
  • NO

Posted 12 August 2019 - 04:34 AM

Google's autocomplete has had some interesting tweaks as well, probably to nudge people in a certain direction. The image below shows Google's autocomplete keyword positions vs actual searches each gets. 

 

https://imgur.com/HvuQK1s

 

HvuQK1s.jpg

 

It contains the queries:

 

- Supplements are bad 
- Supplements are good 
- Supplements are a waste of money 

"Supplements are good" gets a much higher search volume than the other two, yet it appears further down the list. "supplements are a waste of money" is appearing higher than "supplements are good" despite having almost no searches.

 

Also 

Dr. Robert Epstein on Big Tech Censorship

 

 

 


Edited by Matt, 12 August 2019 - 04:39 AM.

  • like x 2

#6 pamojja

  • Guest
  • 1,823 posts
  • 402
  • Location:Austria

Posted 14 August 2019 - 09:09 AM

 

S O U R C E :    SelfHacked

 

SelfHacked has become a tech-business more than anything else itself. Try to post a critical comment with references to one of its blog posts, or for good reason give it a bad rating. It all gets censored. Hypocrytes.


  • Good Point x 1

Click HERE to rent this BIOSCIENCE adspot to support LongeCity (this will replace the google ad above).

#7 Engadin

  • Topic Starter
  • Guest
  • 87 posts
  • 216
  • Location:Madrid, Spain.
  • NO

Posted 14 August 2019 - 01:48 PM

SelfHacked has become a tech-business more than anything else itself. Try to post a critical comment with references to one of its blog posts, or for good reason give it a bad rating. It all gets censored. Hypocrytes.

 

 

Not only what you say. Joe Cohen, Selfhacked CEO, didn't have good words at all towards this very site, Longecity, at least one time, as far as I have read in his blog. He is at some extent a selfproclamed 'guru' on the matter he talks about, and reacts to friendly or constructive critics - as you mention - in an unfriendly manner, to say the least.

 

But despite his improvable attitude, the study on Google's censorship is fairly deep and sistematic and looks credible to me. On the other hand, Google's new pharmaceutical entrepeneurship perfectly fits in the picture of the emerging panorama.

 


Edited by Engadin, 14 August 2019 - 01:49 PM.

  • Good Point x 1

#8 Oakman

  • Location:CO

Posted 14 August 2019 - 02:12 PM

I have a 39" monitor (4k) so it's easy to put two browser panels side-by-side and do a DuckDuckGo vs Google search comparison. It's so sadly easy to see what Google is doing with their (very selective, very commercial based) results. Term after term, after term when you search, Google fails big-time, just as the OP states.



#9 InfinityExists

  • Guest
  • 1 posts
  • 4
  • Location:United States

Posted 14 August 2019 - 02:36 PM

This. I noticed a couple months ago when the update was pushed, all my search results were trash... I've since switched to duckduckgo. Which we should all be doing anyway.


Edited by InfinityExists, 14 August 2019 - 02:36 PM.


#10 Mind

  • Life Member, Moderator, Secretary
  • 16,260 posts
  • 2,000
  • Location:Wausau, WI

Posted 14 August 2019 - 06:04 PM

I use duckduckgo as well.

 

Google is pushing "safe" corporate media and medical information. They broke their search algorithm in order to censor alternative ideas, including in the realm of health and life extension.


  • Agree x 2

#11 Rocket

  • Guest
  • 811 posts
  • 101
  • Location:Usa
  • NO

Posted 15 August 2019 - 12:47 PM

I use duckduckgo as well.

 

Google is pushing "safe" corporate media and medical information. They broke their search algorithm in order to censor alternative ideas, including in the realm of health and life extension.

 

Don't forget about Ixquick and Yandex. Then there is a the dark web (for now). Websites like Longecity are important for disseminating non-commercial ideas.

 

About 4-5 years ago, I could pull up a list online of non-Google search engines (many just recycle google's results). There were some great alternatives out there, unfiltered. Today they are all gone as is the list.

 

I miss 1995 when the web was the wild wild west and it wasn't so commercial and pushing political agendas. Webcrawler and Mosaic were great back in the day.


  • Informative x 1
  • like x 1

#12 Matt

  • Guest
  • 2,835 posts
  • 145
  • Location:United Kingdom
  • NO

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:53 PM

I also use DDG and https://www.qwant.com/

 

I've used Google a lot over the years to do research but these days it's absolutely terrible. Many of the searches bring up the same websites like Healthline. It used to be the case that if you were a small niche and covered a topic very well, you could rank above big [broad] websites like that because your website was 'all about' that topic. 

 

It's like Healthline can write one paragraph within a "101 ways to..." type article rank in the top spots despite writing a paragraph about each item in the article. And perhaps someone writes an article that is 2000 words covering 'one of the ways' much better, it doesn't matter anymore.

This makes it almost impossible for new bloggers and sites to compete. 

 

Google is now all about corporate and main stream, like Mind set.

 

Google should just come out and say that they don't value the expertise and experience of users in forums like this. And they don't value experience of health/fitness bloggers.  

 

I do take issue with the idea that one has to have formal qualifications to be "allowed" to give any kind of advice anymore. I've been vegetarian since 2007 and vegan since 2012. I think I do have a lot of knowledge and experience about the diet and that can be valuable. 

 

I'll give an example with a message I got recently before my site got hit (one of many hundreds.) 

 

Hi!

I wanted to say thank you for posting about how helpful zinc is in combating acne. After 3 weeks of taking 50mg of zinc gluconate approximately 90% of my body acne (that has plagued me since elementary school) is gone and my facial acne has decreased significantly as well. Total game changer for me!

Have a great day! I'm going to go wear a tank top for the first time in forever :)

 

It took me 15 minutes to figure out what her doctors and dermatologists could not figure out for YEARS.

 

I was able to do it because I had experience with a similar issue and cured it within weeks. I analyzed her diet and found she was deficient. I know that vegans are often deficient in zinc and one of the main symptoms is acne. And I know and share the research behind using zinc for acne (I share this in the article I wrote.)

 

So, yeah, experience can be valuable, not just 'formal qualifications.'

 

Now, I do agree that there is a lot of ridiculous stuff in the 'alternative health' space, but it does seem like everyone has been dumped into the same category as anti-vaccine groups and such. 

 

John Mueller has been saying for months that they are trying to make the search results more relevant. But the only thing I see is completely irrelevant or very shallow articles coming from mainstream sites.

 

My traffic from Google with each core update. Hit, recovered, hit, recovered, hit... 

 

 

2Vea5gR.png


Edited by Matt, 15 August 2019 - 03:03 PM.

  • like x 3
  • Good Point x 1

#13 Heisok

  • Guest
  • 536 posts
  • 155
  • Location:U.S.
  • NO

Posted 15 August 2019 - 04:36 PM

Good write up Matt. Individuals like yourself have a lot of information to help.

 

Rocket, I used to use Webcrawler back then. It was a great tool. I was amazed how deep the information is that was retrieved. A Webcrawler search is still acrive, and I ran a quick test of  Glucosamine Autophagy. Anti-Aging Firewalls came up on page 2 of results. Good result in my opinion. I doubt it crawls the web though like in the past. Any other old type crawlers available? Is the alternative web, a way to crawl websites? Duckduckgo does not track, but is it also prone to Googles censorship due to being an aggregator of results?

 

This does not minimize the problem that this thread discusses, but some ot the sites mentioned also have many product placement links. Distracting from their message at times.


  • Informative x 1

#14 Mind

  • Life Member, Moderator, Secretary
  • 16,260 posts
  • 2,000
  • Location:Wausau, WI

Posted 15 August 2019 - 05:47 PM

Don't forget about Ixquick and Yandex. Then there is a the dark web (for now). Websites like Longecity are important for disseminating non-commercial ideas.

 

About 4-5 years ago, I could pull up a list online of non-Google search engines (many just recycle google's results). There were some great alternatives out there, unfiltered. Today they are all gone as is the list.

 

I miss 1995 when the web was the wild wild west and it wasn't so commercial and pushing political agendas. Webcrawler and Mosaic were great back in the day.

 

I also wax nostalgic for the "old days". When I first searched the world of ideas on the Internet (and early youtube), it was the wild west, and I was happy to see alternative ideas and independent thought. I felt happy for all of the "conspiracy theorists". They finally had a place to air their ideas (bonkers or otherwise). More speech makes the world better, most of the time. I don't like to see increasing censorship from the big tech oligarchs.



#15 Hip

  • Guest
  • 508 posts
  • 206
  • Location:X

Posted 17 August 2019 - 12:39 AM

Although I have some concern that Google are reducing the presence of alternative health websites in its top search results, I can understand why Google feels the need to do this.

 

Google is used for 90% of Internet searches, and many people searching on health issues may not have the judgement, discernment or education to figure out whether some alternative treatment may be viable, or whether it is just snake oil, or simply just ineffective. Thus arguably for the masses, it may be better to serve them up with the conventional medical line.

 

It just means that for those looking for alternative health information will need to use alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo, or include phrases in their Google searches such as "alternative treatment" or "alternative medicine" which will help pick up alternative websites.

 

You could also set up your own Google Custom Search Engine, where you provide a list of websites that you want Google to search, and it will return results from those websites.

 

If you can find a good list of alternative health websites, blogs and forums, you could easy set up your own custom search engine that specializes in alternative, non-conventional or cutting-edge health information.

 

 

 

 


Edited by Hip, 17 August 2019 - 12:41 AM.

  • Informative x 1

#16 Hip

  • Guest
  • 508 posts
  • 206
  • Location:X

Posted 17 August 2019 - 12:49 AM

Another issue in terms of finding useful health info is the rise of closed Facebook groups, which being private are not indexed by any search engine. Some Facebook groups on health matters offer useful information, but you will only see that info if you join the group (and if the owners allow you to join). 

 

To some extent, Facebook groups take away membership and activity from traditional online forums, and in doing so they transfer publicly available health info into private info.


  • Informative x 1

#17 MichaelFocus22

  • Guest
  • 224 posts
  • -21
  • Location:San Jose
  • NO

Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:16 AM

1. It's called Big Brother and ofcourse it's a conspiracy everything is a conspiracy when you really think about it. The globalist world government is REAL but wiki still has it as a conspiracy theory.  Bilderberg is a real thing and they denied it's existence until about 2015.  Everyone has their own PERSONAL algorithem for their news feed. It's common knowledge that all software companies spy on your data and Mine it and sell it for a profit. Their is nothing new here at all just more globalization and shillism. I went to a socialist meeting yesterday and by 2030 they want to decarbonize the ENTIRE country which is NOT possible Period.  They are bent out on achieving these goals, everything is a conspiracy.


  • Good Point x 1

Click HERE to rent this BIOSCIENCE adspot to support LongeCity (this will replace the google ad above).

#18 Hip

  • Guest
  • 508 posts
  • 206
  • Location:X

Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:40 AM

everything is a conspiracy when you really think about it

 

If you are a conspiracy theory aficionado, have you ever investigated the link between belief in conspiracy theories and schizotypy?


  • unsure x 1





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: censorship, google

2 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 2 guests, 0 anonymous users