Google's latest secretive tweaking of its search engine algorithm has been very bad news for a legitimate and established health and nutrition website.
Examine.com, a Canadian company and website has been building its reputation since 2011 as a research and evidence-based source of information related to supplements, nutrition, and health – but ironically, its seems to have now fallen in Google's war on unreliable and misleading websites covering the health industry.
At least, that's as far as the company can tell. A blog post on its website said that Google is penalizing Examine.com by removing its content from the search results.
Given the near-total power Google wields over discoverability and ultimately the ability to monetize content, this would be a serious blow to any website. And making it more complicated to fix the problem, Examine.com doesn't know why the search giant now deranks it from its search.
Because Google is not letting on what kind of changes it introduces to its algorithms, the website is left speculating what it might have done to offend. The post mentions that the site has been cited as a source by the likes of the New York Times and praised by Men's Fitness.
In addition, the site discloses the way it produces and verifies its study-based content, as well as information about its team.
But all of that was not enough to shield it from Google's ax – or warrant an explanation for the disappearing from the giant's search results.
The blog post also reveals that the last update was not the first time Google's search changes ended up penalizing Examine.com. In fact, according to the post, Google has cut the site's traffic by about 90 percent over the past two and a half years.
The company's business model is to sell nutrition and supplements guides and excludes advertisements and donations. And it's the fact that it doesn't depend directly on page views and traffic from Google that the website has to thank for not losing all of its revenue.
The blog post suggested that the situation was the result of incompetence rather than malice on Google's part: “In their attempt to balance signal and noise, they unwittingly associated us with the noise. What happened to us seems similar to what happened to MetaFilter.”
However, while the post focuses often on how their content is high quality and deserves to rank in Google, Google's actions should come as no surprise as those on its YouTube platform can tell you. YouTube, owned by Google, has spend recent months ending the careers of prominent YouTubers and tanking the income of independent creators – all for the greater good, according to the YouTube CEO.