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Why Did Google Penalize NaturalNews.com in February 2017?

On February 21, 2017, 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.

Screenshot of the Natural News site not showing up in search results.

Note: On occasion I have seen sites disappear for a day or two and come back. But as of right now Natural News is definitely missing from search results.

What does penalized mean?

If you are not active in the world of SEO you may call it blackballed, sandboxed, blacklisted, delisted, de-indexed 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.

Is Natural News “Fake News”?

Fake News is a very broad term. These days you could call biased coverage at a major media outlet Fake News or you could define Fake News as the Enquirer headlines that say things like Hillary is going to give birth to an alien life form. I am by no means the Natural News expert but a quick glance at the Natural News Wikipedia Page has an interesting quote: “One such blogger, David Gorski of ScienceBlogs, called Natural News “one of the most wretched hives of scum and quackery on the Internet…” Ok then, so it is, at least, a controversial website. The site has a huge following and I get the general idea that people love it or hate it… This still doesn’t explain the penalty.

Why was Natural News penalized?

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 of 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.

(update 2/23/2017: For those interested, I put together a more technical view of this here: “Was Natural News Banned from Google for Fake News?”). This article explains why they were most likely de-indexed.

This must be fairly recent as SimilarWeb estimates that 31% of their 6,500,000 monthly hits are via organic search.

Natural News Traffic Estimates up til 1/31/2017.

Do you know what happened to Natural News?

Will Natural News lose 2 million views in February?

Do you know what happened to the site?

Is the site notorious for “fake news” and conspiracy theories?

Update 2/23/2017:

It appears that I caught the attention of Natural News as they added the article to their site: GOOGLE blacklists Natural News… removes 140,000 pages from its index… and they put this YouTube video up:

I added “Why” to the title of this page, as NaturalNews.com is absolutely penalized and not showing up in Google Search results, and neither are its sub-domains. So the questions is no longer “IF” but “WHY”.

Also, after receiving numerous emails, I put together this image proving NaturalNews is penalized and de-indexed:

As seen in the screenshot, NaturalNews has 193,000 pages indexed by Bing, and ZERO by Google.

I also put together an article called the Google Fake News Penalty. Does it exist? Did Google Penalize NaturalNews.com for this? Or were they violating other Google guidelines?

I am listening to the YouTube video now, and site owner Mike Adams explains he believes he has been targeted for not taking down Alex Jones by releasing opposition research…

I will continue to update this developing story here on this page. Again, I know next to nothing about Natural News, I personally am just a search junkie. I will try to reach out to Mike Adams tonight to see if he has received any manual action notices in Google Search Console.

Update 2/24/2017

I have been contact by Mike Adams of Natural News. We did discover why a subdomain has been penalized. As for the main domain – some mystery remains. You can read about it here:
https://www.telapost.com/real-reason-natural-news-blacklisted/

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.
36 Comments
  1. Will Natural News lose 2 million views in February?

    Hopefully.

    Do you know what happened to the site?

    Not a clue.

    Is the site notorious for “fake news” and conspiracy theories?

    Yes. The site repeats the autism/vaccination conspiracy nonsense that has been disproven multiple times, argues against medicine, makes misleading claims about food (i.e. the right food can cure just about any illness), and sells all kinds of bullshit.

    Snopes has a category *just* for them: http://www.snopes.com/tag/natural-news/

    Even when a particular claim is true (i.e. breakfast cereals contain Iron), they then jump off into scaremongering and conspiracy-mongering.

  2. Brian,

    You are a liar. The site is not notorious for fake news, but snopes is notorious for its own lies. They should not be blacklisted, but are because they don’f follow Google’s marxist and anti free speech agenda.

    Shame.

    • So snopes is fake news and natural news is not? That’s absolute bull****. Natural News is dangerous levels of misinformation. Good for Google.

    • Oh the butthurt!

    • As an epidemiologist, I can tell you that Natural News is almost completely full of BS about scientific findings, human biology, pathogens and nature. Often through incompetence with understanding data and biology. It is also used to sell A LOT of untested treatments to people, who may have serious conditions. We are already watching so much harm done to people who delay or never seek treatment for serious illness bc they are so completely misinformed. Including toddler deaths from ear infection (seriously), delaying cancer care leading to death or unnecessary morbidity (Steve Jobs…) and a host of others. I don’t know if I agree with Google doing this in general, but I would not be sad to see such a self-serving and dangerous site go away. Medical information and treatments should be regulated for a reason.

      • a lot of people are being hurt by big pharma trash you people are pushing,”fake cure”.

    • I agree 100%
      Google and the MSM (Fake News) do not want people to think for themselves

  3. KS73,

    You are bull****. You need to wake up and take the Marxist blinders off your eyes. Google is downright censoring information they don’t agree.

    They are playing you like a fiddle. People like Google don’t call u useful idiots for nothing.

  4. When you hear hoofbeats, expect horses and not zebras. The other search engines haven’t penalised Natural News. This is likely a business decision and not a comment on the fake content. Perhaps their ad-words account is long overdue.

    “Truth”. I don’t think that word means what you think it does. Wikipedia calls it a “conspiracy-minded alternative medicine website”. Is that you Mike Adams? foaming at the mount about another manufactured conspiracy when you just haven’t paid your bill?

    • Kevin, you are naive. This is not a business decision, but is clearly censorship. The point is, I don’t need Google playing Big Brother, and censoring news it deems fake or “dangerous”. I will determine what is fake or dangerous, not Google. This is total censorship, anti-free speech, and is reminiscent of a totalitarian mentality – akin to North Korea, or some communist or fascist state. I expect to find this kind of mentality in closed countries, but not in America.

  5. Censoring naturalnews.com is ridiculous considering google doesn’t censor Isis and other violent radicals. They don’t censor pedophiles or hate speech. They don’t censor crazy satanists. Why did they censor naturalnews.com? That doesn’t make sense. We are not living in the dystopian novel 1984. I will censor my news for myself. Google should not be appointing themselves to play that role for me, especially considering the nonsense they refuse to filter. Ridiculous.

  6. Google has the right to display or not display content on their web pages. The website is still running, Google just isn’t displaying it. Censorship would be if the government denied access to sites, no access is being denied here, just no help getting there.

    • It’s essentially the same thing
      People use Google even when they know the name of the site
      They don’t have a clue on how to navigate direct.

      Google’s marketshare practically
      Makes them a public utility. And the only one at that. So I beg to differ. A Google ban is the kiss of death for his traffic.

  7. “You need to wake up and take the Marxist blinders off your eyes. Google is downright censoring information they don’t agree.”

    Irony spill on aisle 207702. Bring a Wet-Vac.

  8. http://www.healthnutnews.com/google-blacklists-natural-news-removes-140000-pages-index/

    “If I had agreed to betray my colleagues and agreed to participate in a smear campaign against Alex Jones, everything would have been fine with Natural News and you wouldn’t see the attacks being waged against us.
    The message from Google and other information gatekeepers is now clear: Obediently conform to the status quo or you will be banished from the digital realm. This is, in essence, nothing less than a modern-day book burning.”

    http://victuruslibertas.com/2017/02/exclusive_interview_with_dhs_insider/

    “Facebook and CIA are literally the same petri-dish. Google became a Deep State organ courtesy of Eric Schmidt.”

  9. I wanted to note here once more that Google may de-index websites for a wide variety of reasons as mentioned in their Webmaster Guidelines. NaturalNews could be mistakenly de-indexed, or it could be intentional. I do not see where they have done anything to violate the Webmaster Guidelines at this time, however I would need a significant amount of information from the site to determine that. Historically, I have never seen Google ever just de-index a site that they do not “like”. That said, Natural News is definitely de-indexed and at the moment your guess as to why is as good as mine.

    As a note, if you swear on the blog I will change words to **** or delete the comment as this is a G rated website. Otherwise, comments are encouraged.

  10. Google changed their algorithm in the past to penalize websites such as Mercola.com and Natural News. In that case it was specifically for medical symptoms and benefited WebMD, Mayo clinic.

    Is it possible they are quietly extending this approach?

    http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/google-partners-harvard-medical-school-mayo-clinic-symptom-search

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/03/google_search_results_accuracy_the_search_engine_shouldn_t_decide_what_s.html

    • Thanks JW I will check on those articles. I do remember when they partnered with Mayo Clinic so they can provide featured answers for medical searches. My favorite example of this is “What is strep throat?“..

  11. Did you hear back from Natural News yet?

    • I’m sure they saw this article and I tweeted them but there has been no response so far. If I get one I’ll update the article. Looks like they have a lot going on right now and my tweet was probably lost in a sea of comments. I will monitor the site & continue to update this article as the evens unfold.

  12. Mike Adams is a snake oil salesman.

    He censors comments beneath his articles. Comments have to be approved before they posted. Mike Adams censors comments that he doesn’t like.

    Mike Adams only cares about making money from product sales. He dot NOT actually care about peoples health.

  13. Mike Adams does not care about peoples health. Only product sales.

    • Wow, that’s why he tested water from all across the country. I live in Irvine and I checked the nearest zip code on his report. Turns out aluminum was the second highest ppm in all his
      results nationwide.
      I just had a hair mineral test to check my levels and aluminum was at dangerous levels in my hair.
      Coincidence? i.ve been battling a slew of health issues for 5 years so who knows. But regardless it takes a lot of time and resources to offer that for free.
      You are what’s wrong with this country, ignorant as hell and unappreciative to the point of being a disgusting troll

  14. Also I want to add that some of the stuff Mike Adams writes about is true, but a lot of the stuff he writes is fear mongering nonsense.

    He is a snake oil salesman so he got what he deserved.

    • Yea, your right. Some of it is over the top. But here’s the thing, even the shock value stuff is not all that far fetched. You can kinda see it coming if you look around and pay attention.

      The stuff that’s undeniably true outweighs the shock crap. He is trying to get traffic so I get it. But all in all he provides an overall positive service. Google taking him down is what’s really terrifying. It is essentially the same as having your site taken offline. I know this because i’ve been in search for 20 years. People search Google even when they know where they’re supposed to go. If it’s not there they won’t visit.

  15. Although I despise sites like NN, they are not doing anything that is illegal. If a site can be taken down, because it violates laws, by all means it should. But if it is not, then an unbiased search engine should not exclude it. As far as I can tell, this is a first time event on part of Google, I have no knowledge that they have delisted a site before.

    One of the most important qualities of a search engine, in my opinion, is that it is not biased, and does not remove results based on “taste”. Slapping a label on a result, or enabling clients to select a filter is a different matter. I wouldn’t mind if they labeled “NN” results with a message, for example “This site is known to contain pseudoscientific statements, that are generally viewed as untrue.” Much like they label sites where they detect malware. But the choice to see such a result should be mine, as a search client.

    I believe that Google in the past has claimed “common carrier” status, in order to justify for example their cache feature. By making such an editorial choice, the can no longer claim this, and they are no longer a neutral search service provider.

    As much as I hate fake news and disinformation, this is not the right way to deal with it.

    This is a deplorable development, and I am not sure Google deserves my trust anymore. I am baffled that “the Internet” is not boiling with outrage by now.

  16. Just so everyone knows, google has altered search engine results (in a shady manner) to their liking for years now. It’s nothing new.

    Also the mainstream media is fake news. They came out with the term “fake news” specifically to try to censor the “pizzagate” scandal which is in fact real news.

    The CIA works hand in hand with mainstream media in order to brainwash people to accept illegal wars that the US takes part in when they bully other countries who can’t defend themselves.

    Every major “terror” event and “shooting” event has been staged or false flagged by the CIA and FBI.

    Is the banning of naturalnews immoral – Yes.

    Did Mike Adams get what he deserved – Yes.

  17. Doesn’t matter. The tidal wave of people waking up will drown this establishment. An awoken inellectual can’t be manipulated to accept propaganda any further, and through word of mouth or other sources, truth it will continue to spread.

    People are becoming desensitized to all the hocus pocus, and their starting to pull back the curtain to reveal the scam. Once Pandora’s box is open, the contents won’t fit back in. The masses are waking up.

    All it takes is enough time to tip the scales.

  18. UPDATE: I have been contact by Mike Adams of Natural News. We did discover why a subdomain has been penalized. As for the main domain – some mystery remains. You can read about it here:
    https://www.telapost.com/real-reason-natural-news-blacklisted/

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