According to a story from The People’s Pharmacy, the health dedicated website (along with many other sites that discuss drug effects and side effects) has experienced a nearly 50 percent drop in web traffic following Google’s latest update to its search algorithms. This latest update appears to conceal sites that discuss drug side effects, making it more difficult for patients to use Google search in order to find critical information about medications.
Undermining Our Impact
Patient Worthy itself has also been greatly affected by these changes and we have also seen a major drop in our site traffic because of this one tweak from Google. While it isn’t entirely clear why Google decided to modify its algorithm in this way, it’s hard not to speculate. With the elimination of the concept of net neutrality (a previously upheld principle that internet service providers should treat all communications equally and shouldn’t charge customers or restrict access based on characteristics of the communication itself), it isn’t hard to believe that Google, while not a internet provider per se, could somehow be providing biased results; are drug companies working with Google to hide side effects? There is no way to know for sure, but it doesn’t sound impossible.
Limiting Access to Information
The People’s Pharmacy has seen some of its most successful articles that focus on the side effects of many commonly used and important medications like prednisone suddenly disappear from Google searches almost entirely. The site has also seen similar problems appear on stories that focus on the withdrawal symptoms of certain drugs. Withdrawal symptoms are often not even closely studies by drug developers or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At the end of the day, these changes are undermining the goals of Patient Worthy, The People’s Pharmacy, and many other websites that are committed to providing valuable and honest information to the patients that need it, and these changes to the algorithm are literally putting people in danger. At Patient Worthy, we will seek methods to improve our effectiveness with the new algorithm.