Regular readers here are probably familiar with Mike Adams and his website NaturalNews.com. Forget the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism, when it comes to wretched hives of scum and quackery on the Internet, NaturalNews is the wretchedest, scummiest, and quackiest. Not surprisingly, Adams got his start in wingnuttery selling Y2K scams nearly 18 years ago. Now, besides presiding over a scammy online publishing empire that racks in considerable green by publishing articles laced with quackery, antivaccine pseudoscience, character assassination, and thuggery, both legal and getting a bit too close to inciting violence, Mikey fancies himself a scientist. (He also fancies himself a rapper and musician, but the less said about his rapping and vocal stylings, the better.) He’s even gone so far as to purchase a used mass spectrometer and use it to analyze everything from his competitors’ supplements to Flint water to the flu vaccine, resulting in pure hilarity (to real scientists) and, unsurprisingly, an interview with America’s Quack, Mehmet Oz, on The Dr. Oz Show and an instant quack bromance. Basically, if it’s quackery and pseudoscience, very likely Adams embraces it and probably profits from selling it. More recently, Adams has become a die-hard Donald Trump supporter and a rising star in the alt-right.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must reveal the reason for my schadenfreude. First, it appears that, for unclear reasons, Google penalized NaturalNews.com today, as Len over at Telapost noticed:
Today someone asked me why they could not find a website in Google search. The website is “Natural News” (http://naturalnews.com/).
Indeed, the site has been penalized by Google. This means, for whatever reason, the site does not show up in Google organic search. I tested the subdomain blogs.naturalnews.com as well, and it too is penalized.
Len goes on to note that he’s seen sites disappear for a day or two and come back, but as of right now he noted that NaturalNews.com is definitely missing from Google Search results. I myself also did some tests and found the same thing. At least as of my writing this, NaturalNews is:
If you are not active in the world of SEO you may call it blackballed, sandboxed, blacklisted, delisted, etc. It means your website has been removed from Google’s search results. Some penalties are algorithmic, others are manual, meaning a person at Google manually penalized the website for violating Google’s webmaster guidelines.
So we don’t know why NaturalNews was penalized by Google, nor do we know if this penalization is permanent, brief, or long term, but this is serious business:
As mentioned above, this could be a fluke. Or, maybe there are a tremendous amount of bad links pointing at them- I doubt that though- the site is 10yrs old.
I googled a recent post and it had been mentioned nearly 3,000 times in just days that I could tell, which means it has likely been cited significantly more than that. That is a tremendous amount od SEO value. From what I can tell, the site should be ranking very well. But, that said, there is only so much I can tell by just glancing around. I do not have access to what I would need to determine why the penalty occurred.
This must be fairly recent as SimilarWeb estimates that 31% of their 6,500,000 monthly hits are via organic search.
When I searched for NaturalNews.com on Google, I got Adams’ Facebook page. I got a bunch of entries about Natural News, including RationalWiki’s and a couple posts by me here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog. I got a couple of domains owned by Adams and linked to NaturalNews.com, such as NewsTarget.com, Healthranger.com, and TruthWiki.org, all domains that do not appear to be affected. But I saw no direct links to NaturalNews.com. On Twitter I’ve been getting reports from the UK that Adams’ site appears to have been delisted there as well.
Of course, it’s possible that, by the time you see this, Google will be indexing NaturalNews.com again. Or not. SEO might as well be black magic to me, and I am not wise in the ways of Google. I am, however, amused at Mike Adams’ reaction. Those of you familiar with Adams knows that to him everything is a conspiracy, and this is no exception. It couldn’t possibly be that Adams did something to trigger the penalty and that there was no malice on Google’s part (which is almost certainly the case). Oh, no. It had to be The Man out to get him, as this gloriously unhinged screed posted yesterday by Adams entitled GOOGLE blacklists Natural News… removes 140,000 pages from its index… “memory holes” Natural News investigative articles on vaccines, pharma corruption, fraudulent science and more. Naturally, the reason Google penalized and “delisted” his website is retaliation:
Late last week, I received a direct threat that warned if I did not take steps to destroy Alex Jones and InfoWars, I would be targeted for destruction in a campaign of smears, censorship and defamation.
Instead of giving in to the enemy, I refused to take the bait and went public with details of the threat, warning everyone in the new media that sinister forces were now being pursued to undermine and silence every anti-establishment (and pro-Trump) voice on the internet.
True to form, today the entire Natural News website has been blacklisted by Google, entirely without warning.
As is his usual M.O., Adams linked the delisting of his flagship website to…well, everything, including the fall of Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt right troll known for his misogyny, slurs against and outing of LGBT people, and general nastiness. Apparently, none of that was too much for conservatives who embraced him for being “politically incorrect,” but when he spoke way too blithely about pedophilia, even appearing to defend it, that was too much and he was disinvited from speaking at this week’s CPAC conservative gathering and forced to resign from Breitbart. Of course, it was the “opposition research” and a “cynical media witch hunt” that brought him down. Then there’s InfoWars having been “blackballed” by AdRoll, thus cutting into Alex Jones’ profits. Then, of course, there were those evil liberals pummeling the Shopify e-commerce platform to dump the Breitbart online store. Then there was this:
Today, Natural News has been hit by Google, which has blacklisted the entire Natural News domain and removed over 140,000 pages from its index. The take down of Natural News happened this morning, and it follows a pattern of censorship we’re seeing being leveled against other pro-Trump websites. Google sent no warning whatsoever to our “webmaster tools” email address on file with them. The shut off of Natural News was clearly driven by a human decision, not an algorithm. We’re currently attempting to determine Google’s claimed justification for censoring our entire website, and we hope to have NaturalNews.com restored in Google’s index.
Schadenfreude feels so good. I truly enjoyed reading Adams’ rant about how you are “witnessing a modern-day book burning by the internet Gestapo that now decides what knowledge you’re never allowed to access… especially because much of that knowledge can help set humanity free.” I mean, I knew Adams was grandiose, but this is ridiculous, so much so that it’s worth quoting at more length than I normally do, so that you, too, can laugh at it without actually having to visit NaturalNews.com (although feel free to do so if you like, and tell Adams Orac sent you). Read it in all its unhinged glory:
Natural News is, of course, one of the world’s top educational and activism sources exposing the lies of dangerous medicine, toxic mercury in vaccines, the corporate-quack science behind GMOs, cancer industry fraud and so on. By providing truthful, empowering and passionate information to the public, we harm the profit model of the corrupt medical cartels that fund the media, lobby the government and influence internet gatekeepers with advertising money. (Google has already declared war on natural medicine and nutritional supplements, all but banning them from being advertised on Google Adsense.)
The removal of Natural News from Google’s index means that millions of people may now be unnecessarily harmed by toxic medicines, herbicides and brain-damaging mercury in vaccines because they are being denied the “other side of the story” that’s censored by the corporate-controlled media. By censoring Natural News, Google is, in effect, siding with the criminal pharmaceutical industry that has been charged with multiple felony crimes and caught bribing doctors, fraudulently altering scientific studies, conducting medical experiments on children and price fixing their drugs to maximize profits.
In effect, censorship of Natural News is part of the establishment’s war on humanity which includes depopulation measures (Bill Gates), covert infertility vaccines, corporate-run media disinfo campaigns and a full-on assault against scientific truth and free speech conducted in the public interest.
Won’t someone think of the children? Not surprisingly, the almost as quacky Jon Rapaport is standing behind Mike Adams in his hour of need. Of course, Adams will look very silly if this was just a glitch and his site is relisted tomorrow. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, but how Google operates is the very blackest of black boxes. Who knows what happened. I’m hoping the delisting sticks but fearing it won’t.
In any case, Adams is either really delusional or thinks incredibly little of his readers if he can say with a straight face that Natural News is one of the worlds “top educational and activism sources.” In reality, it is, as I said above, the wretchedest of wretched hives of scum and quackery, now seasoned with alt right, Trump-worshiping misogyny, racism, bigotry against transgendered people, and general right wing batshit nuttiness. Even more hilarious is his claim that “millions of people” might now be harmed by the evil toxins, vaccines, herbicides, and everything else Adams likes to rant about.
I have to wonder, naturally, whether Google’s decision to delist NaturalNews.com is part of its attempt to clean up fake news. To be honest, as much as I despise Adams and his website, I’m not sure that NaturalNews.com qualifies as fake news. Adams rarely makes up stories out of whole cloth. Rather, like every good propagandist, he takes existing news stories and information sources, cherry picks from them, and then weaves them together into a deceptive, biased tale designed to rile up his readers by confirming their conspiracy theories, while misrepresenting science and evidence to fuel his quackery-supporting narratives. That’s why I don’t really consider NaturalNews.com to be a fake news site, but more like a whackaloon conspiracy theory and quackery website. I realize that that could be a distinction without a true difference.
On the other hand, it’s a fine line between what Adams does and fake news; I’m not always sure where I’d draw it. Even so, there’s no doubt that Adams’ website had serious Google juice, given all the citations, incoming links, and, these days above all, the social media shares, all coupled with a lot of traffic and reach. And that was a problem. His “fake medicine” and conspiracy theory articles were very widely shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and Adams has been very SEO-, social media-, and web-savvy for a very long time. His ridiculous articles promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories (that is, when he wasn’t gloating over the deaths of celebrities who used conventional medicine to treat their cancer).
Oh, and playing the martyr, persecuted for…well, just read:
It’s clear to me that Natural News is being targeted primarily because of our support for President Trump and his review of vaccine safety. It is now apparent that any person who engages in real science, critical thinking or any attempt to protect children from the brain damaging effects of mercury in vaccines is going to be silenced, discredited, smeared and blacklisted. This is an astonishing realization about the depths of total corruption in society today and how the medical cartels control information to maximize their profits off human suffering.
Or, it could just be that Adams tried something with his website that Google didn’t like, like bogus links, cloaking, spoofing, or doorway pages. Or something else that Google doesn’t like. There’s no way of knowing. As I said before, Google’s search algorithms are the blackest of black boxes.
I am, however, very much enjoying my schadenfreude, and will continue to do so as long as Adams’ site is delisted and he continues his tirades against Google and his victimhood conspiracies. I just started listening to Adams’ podcast about the whole thing:
I’m sorry, I had to stop when Adams started to brag about how NaturalNews.com is true journalism that cites all its sources and does in-depth analysis. I couldn’t stop laughing.
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