The Natural News conspiracy – Google is out to get them and hilarity ensues

As many of us pro-science bloggers have written, the malodorous, fetid cesspool of pseudoscience, Mike Adams’ Natural News website has been blacklisted, strippedblacklisted, and delisted from Google searches (as of 26 February 2017). Of course, this has resulted in a series of comical headlines regarding the Natural News conspiracy theories – it’s all about how Google is out to destroy Natural News, because of whatever fantasy that comes from the brain of Adams.

Why is Mike Adams going after Google so directly? Despite some the wishes and hopes of the scientific community, Natural News was not delisted because of its awful pseudoscience. As I had written on the initial article about this story:

I have no clue why Google blacklisted Natural News. It may have been some SEO (search engine optimization) change by Google – the dark arts surrounding SEO is only understood by secretive wizards who try to explain to mortals like me. The blacklisting may be permanent, or it may be temporary. There are literally dozens of reasons that cause Google to remove a website from it’s search results – bad spelling and grammar, fake links, and many others.

In other words, I was pretty certain that the story of the blacklisting had little to do with fake news or pushing pseudoscience, but more to do with something strange to do with their website. And several Search Engine Optimization folks, who have nothing to do with scientific skepticism, they just write about the alchemy of SEO mysteries. Because I swear the existence of sasquatch is more real than some of the rules surrounding SEO.

An SEO website, called Search Engine Land, wrote extensively about the Natural News conspiracy – the website was not delisted because of fake news (or bad science) but for some technical violation of webmaster rules. Without going into all the details, webmaster, like myself for example, cannot do anything that artificially raises the ranking of a website, like creating fake clicks on the article. Fake clicks can lead to a higher Google ranking and also change the value of advertising on the website. There are dozens of ways to manipulate a website’s Google ranking, and if Google catches it, you’re in deep trouble. The Skeptical Raptor’s Google ranking is purely organic – every click I get is generally from someone interested in the article or subject.

Natural News was accused of something devious in designing their website – it probably wasn’t unintentional. Search Engine Land wrote, “Google has confirmed the site was not removed for its political views but rather because of a webmaster guidelines violation.” They also report comment directly from a Google spokesperson:

We don’t comment on individual sites, but if we find that a site violates one or more of our Webmaster Guidelines we may take manual action against it. For webmasters who have questions about their own sites, our Webmaster team provides support through platforms such as the Webmaster Forums. Once a site has remedied the problem, the webmaster can submit the site for reconsideration.

Apparently, Natural News is using a “sneaky mobile redirect.” What’s that, you ask. Well, a sneaky redirect (yeah, that’s what they’re called) is a method by which a website redirects someone from intended website to something completely different. Let’s say you clicked on this article on website, and I had a sneaky redirect that took you to a car dealer instead. Or a natural vaccine replacement. Or anything. I don’t do that, because every link redirects you to what is stated – I also have a plugin that warns me when I put in a link that might have issues like a sneaky redirect. Obviously, Mike Adams didn’t try very hard.

So, Google might have dozens of rules and regulations that could result in a website like Natural News being blacklisted or delisted, but apparently fake news and pseudoscience are not amongst them. Actually, I don’t think any of us care why Natural News is no longer searchable – we just wish it were permanent.

The Natural News conspiracy theory about Google

Despite the fact that the delisting resulted from Naturals News’ propensity for pushing the boundaries of SEO based website design, they have gone seriously conspiracist over the past couple of days. Let’s take a look at some of their more recent headlines:

Let’s summarize the paranoid and laughable Natural News conspiracy – Google is a deep-state institution that is run by the CIA to block information about cancer prevention and treatment to the world. Sure Mike Adams, that’s precisely what’s going on. Oh wait, what’s that thing I repeat over and over and over – oh yeah, bring evidence or shut up.

Since it appears that Natural News violated Google’s own rules on how it does SEO, rules that are fairly transparent, it seems it would be more productive finding what went wrong, then filing a formal appeal to get re-listed on Google’s searches. Then everyone can read about the pseudoscientific cancer cures. And genuflecting towards Donald Trump.

I once made a minor, very minor, violation of Google’s SEO rules. Of course, I didn’t know I had done it, until I got a warning on my webmaster’s tools page. I fixed the problem, wrote them an appeal, and they quickly removed the warning. Only if you believe in conspiracies would you think that Google is run by Terminator robots bent on our destruction.

Personally, I hope Mike Adams keeps pushing the Natural News conspiracy theories regarding Google. That might make it harder for his website to show back up on Google.

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!