Dear Google, We Need To Talk…By: Rob Miller
Home » Consumer Watchdog » Dear Google, We Need To Talk…
It’s about your search results. We need to talk…
For my visitors who aren’t already aware, our site has seen a significant dip in the google search results starting on Aug. 1, 2018.
Google routinely updates their search results, sometimes as much as several times a day.
This particular update (dubbed the “Medic Update” by some) had a massive effect on the search results, specifically in the health niche.
I can understand their rationale completely.
For a long time, there were plenty of sites that were ranking for heavily searched medical-like terms, that probably should not have been.
I get it…
They have a responsibility to their customers (you, the google searcher) to present the most reliable, informative, and accurate result to your query possible.
With all that said, there’s been some strange results popping up when I run searches for keywords I used to rank for.
In many cases, I’ve been coming across things like:
- 404 Errors
- Blank Pages
- Redirects to totally different sites
- Extremely thin pages
- Redirects to “buy cheap viagra” type sites
- Porn images showing up
These are not isolated incidents, and they are also not happening on deep pages in the results.
In fact, they’re almost ALL happening on Page 1 of the results, and for literally 100’s of searches I’ve personally conducted.
In many cases, these bad search results have almost completely taken over the page 1 results.
I’ve made a video demonstrating these very searches, check it out below:
There are a ton of search results that I did not include in the video, simply because of time restrictions.
Here are some other examples:
(note:All searches were conducted with a google incognito tab, logged out, and with a VPN. They’ve also been verified by several acquaintances in various locations throughout the US. So no, my computer is not hacked 🙂
Keyword: arthrozene reviews
This is a joint relief supplement I wrote about awhile back.
Our review is rich, and full of content regarding nearly everything there is to know about this supplement.
I’ve personally tested the product myself, and had an older gentleman named Jim test it out as part of our STEPuP program. The purpose of that was to determine if there were major differences between the effects it would have on younger adults (like my 37 year old self), and older adults (Jim is 66 years old).
We have 17 real reviews from users who have taken the product, linked to from the top of the page.
We’ve even had the content on the page medically reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Helen Okoye, our in-house medical reviewer.
When I think ‘user intent” for this particular keyword, I think only one thing…
Searchers are looking for real reviews of this particular product.
If you search the term “arthrozene reviews”, this is what you see in the Top 10 results:
3 of the 10 results have nothing to do with the product at all, as well 2 of the youtube videos in the carousel.
The first unrelated result (Amazon) is for a completely different product called Vital 3 Joint Solution.
The second unrelated result (Consumerreports.org) is an outdated article from 2013 that makes no mention of the product named Arthrozene.
Further down the page, in the 5th, 9th, and 10th spots, we have completely (almost) irrelevant pages showing up.
My review is pinned to the bottom of the page in the #8 spot.
For someone searching for real reviews of Arthrozene, this is not helping their cause.
This is somewhat related to the next search…
Keyword: Wachsen Riesig reviews
So Wachsen Riesig was a supplement I actually received a mailer on last month (October), of which I wrote a complete review on here.
Apart from the mailer (and one lone BBB complaint), there was virtually no information about this supplement available online.
I wrote the best possible review with the limited information I had.
If you look at the review, this particular company uses extremely vulgar marketing materials to push their product.
And I specifically called them out on that, along with many of their claims.
If you run a search for wachsen riesig reviews on google, this is what shows up.
Just like with the Arthrozene review search, the first several results have nothing to do with the search.
The first result is an Amazon listing for a completely different product (which isn’t even available, btw), and unrelated articles on CBSNews.com and WebMD.com.
My review is in the #5 position.
Keyword: shark tank ed pill
For the past year or so, certain unsavory marketers have been pushing a fake ad about some miracle testosterone booster, weight loss pill, even wrinkle creams being seen on the TV show “Shark Tank”.
The ads look like this:
And lead to pages that look like this:
The reality is, these two “sisters” (who aren’t even sisters) did NOTdevelop some miracle testosterone booster / ed pill / weight loss supplement.
I’ve already outed them extensively in this article and this article.
Searchers looking to find out info on this particular product may search several terms.
For example, when I run a search for “shark tank ed pill”, this shows up in the #2 position:
Which, if you click on it, what you’ll see is them pushing the exact same B.S. narrative…
That there was some miracle supplement that landed a huge deal on the show.
This is simply NOT true!
If the searcher clicks on their result before mine, you could almost certainly bet that a good % of the searchers will believe what piop.net says before learning the truth.
Unfortunately, our exposé has been pinned in the #3 spot for a couple of months now.
As a matter of fact, we routinely expose similar types of scams, including:
Keyword: conor mcgregor supplements fox news
I exposed this particular scam back in June of 2017, click here to read up on it.
If you search for the term ‘conor mcgregor supplements fox news’, you’ll see another site ranking right up at the top.
If you click on that result (which most people do), they go into this long story about how Conor McGregor used 2 supplements called Power Testo Blast and Power Muscle Blast.
It’s 100% fake…
In fact, the only supplement McGregor has ever claimed to have used publicly was BSN Syntha-6 Edge, which he briefly mentioned in a Muscle & Fitness interview.
Further down the results, we have this site perpetuating almost the exact same thing.
On this particular url, they claim he is taking a hiatus from the UFC because he was taking some banned supplement named Stamimax.
Again, simply not true…
Where’s our review exposing the scam?
In the #5 spot…
I have literally dozens of other Exposés like this, here’s just a few of them:
Denzel Washington And Dr. Phil Did NOT Develop Some ED Pill
Anna And Samantha Martin Were NOT On Shark Tank
No, Morgan Freeman Did NOT Use That ED Pill
No, Zac Efron Did NOT Use Those Supplements
Keyword: evolution lean keto
This is another supplement that uses deceptive marketing to push their product.
Just like with many of the others, they’ve been pushing the “Shark Tank Weight Loss” narrative.
We outed the whole thing in an exposéwe published on October 15th.
Yet, if you search something like “evolution lean keto shark tank“, you’ll see nothing but sites perpetuating the scam.
Further down the results we have 2 Amazon listings that have nothing to do with the product, a blank page, and another url that perpetuates the scam.
So where is my exposé warning people about this particular scam?
Where else but Page 5 of the results:
Keyword: over the counter viagra
When I think “user intent” for this particular keyword, I think 2 things…
- Someone is literally searching for a way to buy viagra over the counter (as in, in a store like CVS, Walgreens, etc.)
- Since buying Viagra over the counter is not legal (or recommended, even if you did find someone selling it!), the user is searching for an “herbal equivalent”.
Here are the problem results:
When you click that result, this is what you see:
It’s a very heavily keyword stuffed page, that really doesn’t provide any credible info on the search at all.
What’s worse is, as you scroll a bit down the page, you’ll see a popup show up.
If you try to X it out, the entire page redirects and I get a malware warning from my virus protection software.
Here’s a screencast:
Further down the page, you’ll see another similar result.
While this page doesn’t redirect, it’s clearly a keyword-stuffed page that does not provide any credible information.
See for yourself here.
Below that you have the following:
Well, “hotelmiramare.com” redirects to a totally different site selling fake Viagra.
See for yourself:
Re-purposed URLs Popping Up Everywhere
Another thing I’ve noticed was the resurgence of expired domains popping up.
For example, one product I’ve written about extensively is a supplement called Vigrx Plus.
If you search the term “vigrx plus reviews“, the very first result that shows is a domain name called mbpi.org.
If you look at the history of this particular url on Archive.org, you’ll see that it used to be an environmental assessment website.
In that same search you’ll see a site called “Hawaii-conference.com” showing up in the #5 spot.
This particular url was redirected to a site called uhhconferencecenter.com, and had a ton of legit backlinks going to it.
Those backlinks are what drive this particular url (and mbpi.org) to the top of the search results, not the quality of their content.
Another site I’ve seen popping up all over the place is envisionsolutionsnow.com.
This site used to be a full-service healthcare marketing communications consulting firm.
Now it’s a supplement review site that shows up for terms like “vitapulse reviews”
and “zyrexin reviews”
Other sites I’ve been seeing getting away with the exact same thing include:
ahcafr.com, which was originally an “Arkansas Health Protection Guide”.
Interstitialarts.org, which used to be a site about Artists without borders
Brightfuturesforfamilies.org, which was originally a “national initiative for families and communities to promote and improve the health and well-being of children of all ages”.
elasticss.com, which was a blog about elastic CSS framework of all things.
mynvfi.org, which was originally the National Vitiligo Foundations website.
And the list goes on and on…
This technique of buying expired domains and re-purposing them is nothing new. It’s been going on for as long as I can remember, I’m just very surprised to see this particular tactic working in 2018.
I could go on and on and on about this…
I’m not exactly sure why google is ranking these types of sites, especially the ones in the video.
Are they relying too much on links?
My suspicion is yes, they are.
For the longest time, whenever SupplementCritique.com experienced a traffic drop like this in the past, there was always one way around it: Write better content and make a better site.
We’ve always strived to “do our best” and “do it the right way”, and make it a point to write informative, well-researched, and fun articles and reviews.
However, with results like these showing up, I’m really not sure I could write anything better than I already have.
It’s very disheartening to see results like these popping up, especially considering all the near-daily positive feedback in the form of emails and comments we get thanking us for “saving them” from a potentially dangerous or financially draining product.
Here’s just a few of the more recent ones:
We’ve written numerous articles informing those who have been sucked in by a free trial, debunking potentially dangerous myths about ‘permanent enlargement pills‘, and countless others.
Despite the setbacks, I’ll continue to do my very best at helping you find the best supplements possible.
I always try to find a way to turn a black cloud into a silver lining, and this time is no different.
If you have any questions, you can always reach out to me here.
18 comments on “Dear Google, We Need To Talk…”
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Thanks for the heads up. Google is definitely relying on links and considering it as the number one ranking factor.
You know what?
Their algo is super stupid. A number of sites in my niche are buying links from sites that have ZERO traffic but a lot of referring domains.
And of course, even my 10 years old nephew will understand those are PBN by seeing the articles that are dumped to provide links. Irrelevant articles throughout the home page.
Google just need to implement one simple logic.
Devalue the backlinks that have zero traffic, but a good number of referring domains. I don’t know if their shitty algo can detect if the domain was expired or not.
But checking the traffic against the RD is well enough for the time being as almost all the PBN follows the same pattern.
Hmmmm I’m not entirely sure that would work. For example, let’s say I published a research paper in College 10 years ago.
It has 200 citations from other .edu domains, but gets next to no traffic.
The url isn’t necessarily a “bad” one because it doesn’t get any traffic, it’s just old.
Obviously it’s way more complex than that, I can just see some major issues if they tried to do that. But I agree with you on the PBN’s, that just should not be happening in 2018.
I’ve never relied on links for my site to grow, we’ve simply relied on creating good content. But it is (and always has been) depressing to see sites with inferior content outranking mine, simply because they are using PBN’s.
Many long standing niche sites that we’ve frequented for their expertise have been absolutely demolished by Googles new Drunk Brain algorithm. What a gross oversight by Google engineers.
It’s really embarrassing actually.
We have reviewed the quality guidelines thoroughly and made a few changes. Added an about page, de-anonymized the content by adding visible authors, etc. But I’m not sold that anything will work.
Dr Axe lost most of his traffic and few health sites have more link authority and more high quality content than his.
Perhaps outbound links are becoming more critical, the studies you link to, etc. But, maybe the manual reviewers have ultimate say in your page quality and one person from India not liking your site after spending 5 minutes on it could very well be a death sentence for your business. Unreal.
That’s actually the one thing I disagree with you on. I really don’t think the page quality raters have a direct impact on specific sites like that.
But I guess anythings possible!
Time will tell!
Also, many of these repurposed sites have been hit pretty hard, like:
They are not completely down, but their traffic has declined.
So if anything, these recent updates have been targeting exactly that.
What baffles me is that they are present at all. I mean, it’s a blatant BH tactic.
As for the A/B testing, personally speaking I’ve always thought they’ve done this, albeit on a much lesser scale than they are now. For example, in the past (like 1 – 2 years ago) I’ve had several very comprehensive articles bounce between page 1 and page 4 – 5 for a couple of months.
Over time, it would make its way to page 1 and stay there.
We know that they use metrics like time on site and bounce rate to determine how “good” the content is. Many of these articles I’m talking about have a time on page of somewhere in the range of 6 min., which is an eternity in my niche.
It seems to me that they cranked down that metric, and turned up the knob on brands and links. I say that because there is no way that some of the articles / reviews taking our place have anywhere near a 5 – 6 min. time on page.
I mean, we’re talking 200 – 300 word blurbs about products in some cases.
I know word count doesn’t mean s#$t in the grand scheme of things if it answers the query, but in most cases these articles simply do not answer the query.
I know this because I’ve personally run 100’s of searches in unrelated niches, and can objectively say a good chunk of them do not.
I would give examples, but I’m actually thinking about pushing out another video / blog post demonstrating this.
For those of us trying to do things ethically – it is draining. Hopefully someone at Google will actually see this!
Hang in there! And great site by the way — keep up the good work!
Exactly this, Jill!
This has been irritating me to no end for well over a year at this point. I mean, I used to see sites like this ranking close to a decade ago.
But in 2018? Should not be happening at all.
Thanks for your comment!
It seems like black hat is winning the SEO game at the moment.
Nothing as detailed and impressive as this, but I too have seen garbage in the SERPs. I wish you well with your mission.
Feel free to drop me an email if you want to chat, I’ve recovered slightly since “medic”
Yeah it’s been a very frustrating couple of months, that’s for sure. In fact, I was just noticing the other day (or maybe a week ago?) how far reaching it’s become.
I was trying to search for something completely non-medical / health related, and the results were just….there’s just no other way to put it but terrible.
I literally could not find the answer to my query.
No matter how many times I tried to rephrase the search, it kept spitting back very vague results that did not answer my question at all.
The stranger thing is, it doesn’t do this all the time. In fact, the vast majority of the time the answer is very accurate / I find what I need pretty quickly.
But I’d say about 10 – 15% of the searches are just all over the map.
And in my niche (supplements), it’s way worse.
As you know, you’re not the only supplement / health site hit by this update, actually seems that the only winners are a few of the big boys, like Mayo Clinic, Healthline, WebMD.
Even DoctorOz and Dr Axe got hit hard! As well as DietDoctor – which initially won in August.
Since I’m a newbie to your site but study SEO – just one or two things I initially notices. A big part of Google’s quality guidelines is the trustworthiness of a site.
I have to say, when initially landing on https://www.supplementcritique.com/arthrozene-review/ – it doesn’t scream “high quality”, at least the design and feel. It shouldn’t matter, but one of the questions in the quality rater’s guideline is “would you trust this site with your credit card” and I can’t say I would, based on the 2-second first impression. Your design actually is similar to Healthline, but a few small design nuances that probably make the difference.
A second thing, is it’s written in a very direct response, internet-markety style, which is great for marketing, but may not be the way to go in this update, and it’s probably best to follow a writing model from the leaders like MayoClinic.
I don’t fully believe what others are saying, that it’s all E-A-T – but this is probably a portion of it, and more of a weight in this space.
Just a few thoughts, hopefully it helps somewhat!
Thanks for that, we always appreciate the feedback! I definitely agree with you on the look / feel of the site.
It’s certainly not the prettiest site out there, but we’ve always tried to put the quality of our main content above everything else. As for the writing style, yeah that’s another thing we’ve been tinkering with.
One particular thing I’ve noticed happening a lot in our niche is that sites like NIH.gov, ClinicalTrials.gov, ScienceDirect.com, and other research-based groups have been showing up more often.
Like I mentioned in the post, I can understand Googles rationale behind this.
The problem is, the average searcher can’t decipher what these sites are talking about. It’s written in a very incomprehensible way that, to the layman, often leaves more questions than answers.
We try to bridge that gap by translating it in a way that makes it easy to understand, and fun to read.
Perhaps you’re right though.
We may need to re-assess how the information is presented so that it better aligns with their goals.
With any luck, your article will draw some attention to the issue!