Is Google really doing enough at protecting searchers from bad health advise online? Some critics would argue that Google isn’t doing enough… especially when it comes to some sectors in the health industry such as physiotherapy. Google has long been criticized for failing to penalize spam sites on its search results and demoting good reputable sites. At the current moment the search results consist of either big brands or spam churn and burn websites with nothing in between. With people searching online for health advise some people may fall prey to the spam health snake oil after failing to find specifically what they are looking for (ie their exact symptoms) on one of the larger websites so then choose to sift through pages 2..3..4 where the spam is!
The way in which google relies on back links to rank sites is part of the problem, as Google is currently not putting enough weight on the quality of websites and relevant expertise of links coming from sites known for trusted health advise instead Google puts weight on high pr links with no connection to the health sector instead. Thus paves the way for spammers to be able to exploit this loop hole by creating spam sites and hacking other high pr websites to link to their spam site.
Simply creating a search engine though that ignores back links will not work as then it will simply be a race to creating software that produces content that is accepted by Google without any real human quality reporting that is achieved through back links and would result in a worsened situation where most of the search results would be just utter nonsense and based not on expertise or trust and more on who can create the most readable (or computer accepted) spam.
Searchers may also fall prey to online health product scams buying cheap products often made in china or products that are simply imitations from big retail websites that allow any one to sell on them and are trusted and rank highly on google despite all of this. These products maybe bought by unsuspecting people for health conditions and the products may not even work for them or may make things worse however these big websites may use product descriptions which may say otherwise persuading them that they do really need the product but in actual fact they do not need the item at all.
Googles persistence to reward sites that are of high value to google (ie amazon and wikipedia) rather than specialist niche selling websites means that more and more people are buying items that are not right for their condition and simply will not work this is very prevalent in the physio sector.
In my opinion more needs to be done to help protect searchers from falling prey to these spammers scams!