Of course, we’re not advocating for the site at all – its content has been heavily criticized as “pseudo-science and quackery” with an implicit agenda. But NaturalNews.com is also one of the largest websites in the world, with several million visitors every month, so its significance cannot be questioned.
Never the less, on February 22, a Google search of Natural News or any of its articles came up with naught, as all 150,000 of its indexed pages had been taken down by the world’s largest search engine.
In the ensuing chaos, webmaster and site owner Mike Adams went on a series of epic tirades and rants about the conspiracy theory leveled against him and the site that led to its erasure.
However, Google spokespeople quickly clarified, revealing that the site was stricken from Google because of a "sneaky" mobile redirect the site was employing, which is prohibited by their webmaster guidelines.
In short, a redirect allows people to see different things when they pull up a website depending on certain factors. It’s usually used totally legitimately to optimize mobile websites, but allegedly, Natural News was using their redirect out of the scope of Google's guidelines, actually promoting different websites/pages based on who was searching for them and from where/what device.
The nuances of redirects are beyond my grasp (I’m still trying to figure out how to operate my TV remote), but the case made for an entertaining mess.
A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “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.”
Natural News countered that “Google sent no warning whatsoever to our ‘webmaster tools’ email address on file with them.”
So after all of that huffing and puffing, the NaturalNews.com site and all of its 150,000 pages were popping up on Google once again.
The reason this story caught my attention doesn’t have anything to do wit Natural News or Google, for that matter, but for those of us in the chiropractic field, we know too well the lengths taken to delegitimize us not so long ago. In fact, the AMA used the almost identical terms of “pseudo-science” and “quackery” to describe chiropractic only a few decades ago!
I'd love to hear if you have any input or opinions about Natural News, Google's removal of their site, and the possibility for mass censorship via search engines.
Ok, I'm going back to reading the instruction manual on my remote control now.