Google Algorithm Change Whacks Naked Capitalism

Naked Capitalism is on the receiving end of a nasty bit of synchronicity. Readers may recall that we wrote last week about the role that monopolies and oligopolies play in reducing competitiveness and promoting inequality. Oligopolies and monopolies are a classic example of rent extraction, where the incumbents can distort pricing due to their outsized position. The end result is less competitive products (dominant players don’t need to reinvest since their customers lack good options) and a transfer from customers to providers. We discussed a few examples of monopolists and oligopolists, but one we neglected to mention was Google.

Google’s search business has very strong network effects. Even though some users contend that competitors like Bing produce better results, particularly since Google in recent years has come to emphasize shopping, recency, and natural language searches, its challengers remain mere ankle-biters. Google’s ascendancy thus means if ranking high in a general search is important or even critical, as in you as a business want or need people who have no prior knowledge of your existence to be able to find you, Google can make or break you. As a result, there’s a mini industry devoted to catering to the whims of Google called “search engine optimization” or SEO. Established readers may recall that we looked into getting SEO advice but the service we used, Yoast, provided recommendations that in too many cases were designed for a product site, and thus were a poor fit for us. So we haven’t gone the route of rearranging our lives to please the Google gods.

I don’t monitor traffic to the site all that often, so when I looked at a summary of the last 7 days from Sitemeter, I was shocked at how low it was, particularly since the fall in page views (people who visit www.nakedcapitalism) was inconsistent with our readership levels via RSS syndication (which records how many people actually click on our articles in their RSS readers). If the problem was content, you’d expect to see a decline in both places.

I had our code jockey/WordPress expert Kristin look into it, and this was her report:

One of the things I had vowed to do was to wipe out all of the old rule list of what bots got blocked on the site. Cloudflare had several rules set up to keep the Chinese attack bots at bay, but when I noticed in Webmaster Tools that there were suddenly a significant number of URLs that were blocking the Googlebots, I got worried that the Cloudflare rules had recently trapped one or more of the Googlebots. Once I wiped out all the trapping rules in Cloudflare, The number of URLs blocking googlebots went straight to zero, so that got fixed. So, earlier, I was thinking possibly, that’s taking a few weeks to recover, but I feel it should have by now.

My next theory that I am afraid is probably true, however, is the fact that there have been a whole truckload of Google algorithm updates in the last 30-45 days.

Google Algorithm & Ranking Shifts On Fire This Month

Notice the update at the bottom of the post:
“Update: On May 20th we got confirmation from Google that this was an update to the Google Spam algorithm. And Google has also released a major update to the Panda algorithm today, which began rolling out today, May 20th.”

And, you can see the list of the updates just for the last month right here:

Again, I am not an SEO person, so I do not for the life of me what precisely about these rollouts affect, but it does not seem to be coincidence when I can directly match up the dates of the most major “update” and the dates the traffic slipped to its current levels.

I do wish we had an SEO person that we trust to consult.

We’ve done a lot more investigation into our traffic over the last few months. While the data is noisy and traffic often falls off in the summer, that usually doesn’t become pronounced until July and August. But we can see a clear decline in how often we come up in searches, and we don’t see a similar decay in traffic from readers who’ve previously visited the site. For instance:


We’ve also checked with sites whose type of content overlaps with ours and would be seen by Google in some other respects (high reading level and a moderately high reliance on cross posts, both of which Google penalizes in its search rankings). They haven’t seen any adverse traffic impact since the new Google spam-Panda rollouts.

The problem is the two likeliest culprits are core to our brand. The first is our name. Google may well have downgraded us for the word “naked”. This line of thinking isn’t paranoid. Long-standing readers may recall that in 2008, when this blog was young and still on Blogger (and before it had a daily Links feature), Google shut it down as a spam blog due to its name and number of links. Fortunately, we had a C-level contact and we were able to get that reversed in 24 hours (it normally would have taken two to three weeks). Thus, the second likely cause is our number of outbound links, meaning our daily Links feature. Google takes a dim view of outbound links. For instance, Yoast told us that our modest-by-financial-or-political-blog-standard blogroll was “enormous” and we needed to trim it way down to make Google happy (we haven’t).

The problem is our high-level Google contact has now moved on to another Silicon Valley giant. We do have a mid-level resource at Google, and we’ll clearly ask him for help, but we do not know yet whether he will be able to give us guidance, much the less run interference. If any readers know senior-level people at Google and would be willing to contact them on our behalf, please ping me at so I can give you more background. It does seem absurd that a site that was listed in Wired in the last year as one of Wired’s “favorite sources of news covering the world of business and finance” and singled out by the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson as one of her only two non-MSM daily must reads is now deemed by Google’s formulas to be trashy, but welcome to the world of big data.

Admittedly, the impact of Google’s algo changes on us has not been as extreme as for some sites. Some webhosts saw their traffic go to zero. Nevertheless, the last week’s results were troubling enough that I feel compelled to take action, since if it were sustained, the drop in traffic (which translates into lower ad revenues) means we’d have to cut back on a lot of stuff we do for the site (and for moi to keep me from burning out, like vacation coverage).

We will be implementing one change we had discussed some months ago, which is to truncate our RSS feed. I read many sites on RSS and my reaction is similar to the overwhelming majority of readers who gave us feedback: I don’t mind truncation as long as I get enough text (one to three paragraphs) so I have enough of an idea of what the article is about to decide whether or not to click through.

The reason I’ve held off is that there does not seem to be a good solution for our e-mail readers. At least with WordPress, there is no off-the-shelf way to give e-mail readers full text while truncating the RSS, and a custom solution is prohibitive for a site of our scale. E-mail readers will also get a truncated version and will need to click through to the site to read our articles in full. Some e-mail readers said they’d be willing to subscribe to keep getting a full text version via e-mail. We looked into that too and came up empty-handed. If anyone knows of an alternative, we’d be happy to entertain it, but we spent real tech dollars investigating options.

I know this will make some long-standing members of our community mighty unhappy, but the alternative is likely to be to cut Links down to ten or fewer links a day, which would represent an even greater reduction in the service we now offer. And while the RSS and e-mail readers may initially chafe at having to click through to the site, I suspect many of you don’t realize what you are missing by not reading our lively, informative, and often funny comments. Many members of the NC community regularly say they get as much value from reader comments as they do the articles proper. So I hope you’ll find that this change in habit actually puts you net ahead.

Finally, we do have some feature enhancements in the works, although dealing with this Google mess will delay the rollout. I’d rather be bearing good tidings before bad, but clearly these events were not of our choosing.

While this RSS change should put us back where we were in terms of official page views (and thus stem the revenue loss), that is far from an ideal remedy. Being greatly downgraded in searches reduces our ability to influence opinion and reach new readers. If we had a C-level contact, as we did before, we’d probably be able to get this problem remedied relatively quickly. Lacking that sort of internal advocate now, I have no idea whether we can get this situation redressed.

As Lambert often says, the Web is a hostile environment. I’m sorry that some readers may take umbrage at the upcoming changes (which we will implement this week) but I trust you understand that they appear to be the least bad of our available choices. And as always, I thank you for your interest in our work and your ongoing support.

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  1. Gee

    Yves, I’d be interested in seeing the data prior to what you have in the chart as well. I’ve been tracking something similar, but am trying to adjust for the rate of dropouts via capitulation. By that I mean (and I say this from personal experience,) the utter inability to read anymore. And not remotely because of the quality of the content. Rather, ironically, from the consistent quality of the content. Day after day, you knock it out of the park on telling it like it is, and how I know it is, intuitively, in my gut, even though I can’t articulate nearly so well. But gawd, it crushes me, and I am both awed and overwhelmed by your ability to stay on it, do so much amazing research, on such a horribly depressing topic. It’s liek Basevich on Moyers, talking about Iraq and the Middle East. For anyone with a functioning and integrated brain, the truths are obvious, but the insidious system and TPTB are winning the battle for the storyline. How do we turn the tide? My point….anyway, is that some of your reader stats are going down because people are tuning out more days than before. I still check in to NC, but not as often, and when I do, I read less of each article.

    I think one way that might make things more readable, would be to have two versions of stories, but sadly, that is more work. It’s just that your stories are amazing and long and exhausting, and as much as I want to read them, I dont have the time to slog through some. So, perhaps a page 1, brief, with a known quantity, click here for full article, 400% longer. I dunno, that might be crazy talk, as I dont really see the world acting that way and it should be obvious. Ok, I’ll go now. :)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I know you mean to be helpful, but please read the post again and look at the chart.

      Roughly half our traffic comes via search. That is actually lower than for a lot of commentary/information sites, and says we have a loyal core and solid occasional reader base. We’d be in a lot worse position if we didn’t have an established reputation.

      We have looked at the data. The decline is entirely in search-related traffic. Similarly, we don’t see a decline in clickthroughs on RSS, which is what you’d see if this were content-related. And sites with similar content aren’t seeing a decline either, negating your fatigue factor.

      The decline tracks to the Google algo change and is too dramatic to be the result of any organic process.

      1. mellon

        You have to ignore some of what the SEO people say because often they are unknowingly confusing by the lingo they use. You said that you think Googlebot got trapped into a loop. Do you have the raw server logs, or is there any way you could get them? (what is

        Its a bit of a dilemma, being Gooogle or any search engine and wanting to be able to list the most specific site in reponse to a query. Lots of people try to spam them, also they have to deal with link farms.

        Their algorithms try to penalize people for trying to game them.

          1. mellon

            Lambert, I noticed your CMS rotates the blogs in your blogroll, why do you do that?

            Do you {think/have you heard that} that reduces your chance of being seen as a link farm?

            1. lambert strether

              No. I have a gigantic list, much too long to fit reasonably in the sidebar. Nothing to do with SEO. I don’t have ads, so I don’t worry about SEO.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          We’ve done extensive analysis on this, and it wasn’t by an SEO person but our WordPress expert/code wrangler Kristin. She was monitoring the Googlebot issue carefully once she realized the rules she and Keith (our webhost) had put in place to keep Chinese spambots from bringing down the site were also blocking some Googlebots. They wiped all the rules out and started over and have been monitoring more than once a day to make sure we aren’t blocking Googlebots.

          So that, as she indicated, was resolved and would have flushed itself out weeks before the spam-Panda rollouts. So we are pretty certain that is not what the traffic issue is about.

          And for the most part, we haven’t implemented any SEO recommendations, save the most obvious, which is tagging posts with keywords, which I believe is something Google likes. So we don’t fall into the category of being heavily optimized for the algos pre-Panda and thus in Google’s crosshairs for trying to game them.

          1. Mark P.

            It’s the Panda-4 rollout, misreading NC as a low-quality link-farm, like you say.

            Too many other people are experiencing their own versions of this problem right now for it to be anything else.

            1. psychohistorian

              I suggest NC do a test that you state clearly you are doing… Google knows

              For a week or so make all your current “links” links into non-links such that users have to copy and paste URL text to get to the link. If the change is really attributable to an algo the numbers should reflect that after the caches refresh.

              I am confident your regular readers would support such a test to help with your site management.

              1. mellon

                Google is a robot, “simply stating” what you’re doing will make absolutely no difference to it because t doesnt understand English.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, and links are of little value to readers if we make them cut and paste. You are right that we COULD do that, but I think it would degrade that page severely. Other sites that provide links all provide auto-link.

      2. mellon

        You don’t want to get rid of your comments and you dont ant to put them on different pages, you don’t want to have people not be able to paste in links in the sense that you do want them to be able to have the full URL, here’s what i as somebody who likes to post links thinks might be helpful. Turn off auto linking and turn off the ability to use HTML code. But, leave the ability to post strings that begin with http colon slash slash, etc. just turn off the autolinking in comments.

        Turn off the linking tags. leave the ability to post URLs, however the person reading the comment will have to select the text and paste it into their browser window to follow the link.

        See if that increases your Google PageRank

        It might not make any difference, but its worth trying.

    2. JEHR

      Gee, I, too, tend to read a lot less here because of the depressing nature of reading the same terrible things day after day. Now I read half as many articles and link to far fewer items. I also get information from podcasts on iTunes which sometimes has a different perspective; for example, a program dealing with ISIS–An Instrument of the Western Military Alliance, gives a different view on what ISIS is all about (see: ).

  2. Tom Stone

    Yves, NC has been a daily stop since 2007 and your links have been invaluable. I’ll keep showing up for my daily visit as long as you keep posting. Google? Well, they are better than Comcast…

  3. Randy

    Not reading the comments on Naked Capitalism is leaving 50% and some days more of the meat of the blog on the table!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Agreed. I don’t know how it happened, but I am pleased and impressed with the caliber of conversation that takes place at the NC water cooler! I can’t be as well informed on as many topics as I’d like to be, and having the commentariat debate various issues is very instructive.

      1. JeffC

        Still can’t read those wonderfully awesome comments on the mobile site though, and the full site is still mighty unfriendly to small screens in that it refuses to rewrap lines in a larger font. On an iPhone one has to read the meaty comments under a microscope!

        1. TheCatSaid

          Agree completely.
          Onswipe is a PITA in that it doesn’t show the comments, plus it’s slow and clunky.
          In fact, even on my main PC monitor when I minimize “too narrow” (as I prefer reading in narrow columns) it only shows the website’ rightmost column (tip jar, search, recent comments etc).

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I thought the mobile version of the site was disabled weeks about. The desktop version should render the same way as the regular version. I’ll check with my tech person. You can opt out of the mobile version using the icon in the upper left.

    2. TheCatSaid

      The articles and comments alike are informative, inspiring and thought-provoking. And delightfully humorous at times.
      I can’t imagine someone “only” reading the articles!

    3. LucyLulu

      Absolutely. Some posts i don’t read the article, only the comments (not suggested if going to make a post). Sometimes the comments are the only portion I understand. And they are often much more amusing. We have some wannabe comedians amongst our midst. Those with IQ’s above 160 may be nerdy but they can have wicked senses of humor. Differences in opinions are typically debated using evidence as opposed to namecalling.

      I hope you don’t change the Links. They are usually my favorite page. And while it’s not difficult to cut and paste, using hyperlinks is much classier. I found this posted on a forum regarding “problem links”:

      “king at your site, those disallowed scripts are definitely not causing a problem — it’s primarily an issue of problematic links here. That’s what I’d focus on first. Since there’s a manual action involved, that’s something which you can work on to resolve. Keep in mind that even after resolving the manual action, it can take a bit of time for all of our algorithms to take those changes into account (we have to first recrawl those links, see that they’re removed, disavowed, nofollow’ed, take that into account in compiling the data for the algorithms, and then make those changes public — this can sometimes take a half a year or even longer, depending on how many problematic links are out there, how long they’ve been there, etc). My recommendation would be to really clean up any link issues as completely as you can, so that you don’t have to worry about them again in the future, so that you don’t have to go through several rounds of reconsideration requests.”!topic/webmasters/MhzfzaX83AA/discussion

      My thought was perhaps typos that cause broken links might be creating a problem, but I’m no expert. If Kristin hasn’t seen this page, she might want to take a look. It has a couple other suggestions but more importantly it seems to have some helpful resources linked, if she isn’t already aware of them.

  4. JM Hatch

    What you want to do is see which SEO company has nominee shareholders from New Zealand, and then see if these nominee’s have any Google Executive Links. Nothing like scrambling the algorithm to send more business to their own pockets.

  5. vegasmike

    For a while, Google was my home page. In order to access your site, I had to type in “Yves Smith and Naked Capitalism.” After a couple of days, I added your site to my favorite bar.

  6. downunderer

    Dunno if Google’s people would be amused or convinced by an anecdote from the early web that actually predates Google itself, but sometimes a human touch helps a complaint get read . .

    Months or years before google became a household word, I enrolled with one of the first ISPs in New Zealand, looking for more lively participation than Genie and BBSs could give. The small group of hackers who set it up called it the “Internet Home Users’ Group”, and so I got “[myname]” as an email addy. In a couple of years we were frequently cut off by sites in the other hemisphere who were convinced that this was a porn site, based on its “I hug” name.

    Censoring Naked Capitalism sounds like history repeating. Stuttering, even. Surely Google doesn’t want to be laughed at for failing to know the web well enough?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hah, I remember from my days down under! They were pretty popular in Oz as well as in New Zealand. A lot of people in my address book back then used I had NO idea that something as innocuous as “hug” would trip porn filters outside the antipodes. What a bunch of prudes!

      1. downunderer

        [Sorry, I’m going even farther off topic here and you may want to hit the kill button after a single read, but . . .]
        Prudes, or Americans very sensitive to the cute circumlocutions people use to tiptoe around the tasteless. “Squeeze” may be a shade earthier than “hug” but this then-adolescent was certainly impressed by some matchbooks that featured a trio of “Navajo’s Squeezable Squaws” that came into my father’s possession circa 1960 because he was in the freight business. Maybe they were *not* actually available for squeezing if you were a big enough customer, but I sure got the feeling that a hint was intended. Being reminded of this for the first time in decades, I googled (sorry!) and found some still for sale to collectors. and

    2. Cynthia

      Since when has hugging have anything to do with having sex. Hugging does touch on foreplay, but about as much as eating a bowl of strawberries does. Are you sure these folks at Google have passed the Turing test? I have my doubts.

      1. Worker-Owner

        Yves needed a hug at our last Meet-Up in NYC after she found out how the venue had gotten tangled up. Too public to be considered porn-related. ;-)

    1. Cynthia

      The trick is to turn Big Data into your own personal Sugar Dattie. But try doing that without Google accusing you of robbing their candy store and then siccing the NSA thugs on you. Good luck with that.

  7. Dan Rogers

    Hi Yves/Lambert,

    You probably hear this a lot, so I wont be offended if you take it with a pinch of salt :) but I’m something of an SEO expert, having managed marketing/SEO for 2 large VC funded startups (one with over 30million visits a month and one with over 10million). This is me;

    This doesn’t look like Panda to me, but it’s possible. I’ve worked on a few Panda cases. Panda is usually a step function; i.e. one day you wake up and boom; -40%. But hard to tell by that graph given the lack of historical data.

    If it is Panda, look at low quality content you are letting be indexed by Google, e.g. your tag pages;

    ‘Thin’ pages like this should be noindexed ( The other thing to look at is duplicate content, but I had a dig around on NC and couldn’t find anything that looks problematic.

    I’m a long time avid reader so more than happy to help for free. Just ping me on linkedin or dan at



      1. ohmyheck

        Ya, Lambert, but if NC is farther back in the search pages than it used to be, then that is why the readership is down. If you were found on page 1, 2 or 3, and now you are on page 7 in a google search, well, people are lazy and don’t want to search that far.

        If you no-index/no follow a page that google doesn’t like, as in “Links” page, you might see your site move up on the search pages, and get your readership back up.

        Experiment. Try it for a month or two and see. It sometimes takes a while. Sometimes not.

        If it is really a bad idea, you will know, and you just return it to being indexed/followed.

      2. LucyLulu

        Panda has not remained constant. How different algorithms deal with constants is not constant.

    1. ohmyheck

      This. And what Jack Heape said below.

      The googlebots are getting lazy and don’t want to work so hard. They like original content. All of Yves’s articles/posts are original content, but the daily “Links” posts are not.

      Just put a “No Follow” on the “links” page, the googlebots won’t get their undies in a bunch over all the links on that page and the lack of content.

      If the googlebots don’t see the page to crawl it, then they won’t ding you.

      1. lambert strether

        Oooh. If we had two blogs with link-heavy pages, one with no-follow, one without, we could test….

        1. flora

          hmmm… something in the links just changed. Now instead of a full list there’s a partial list, 6 or so, followed by a”…read the rest…” link. However, clicking the “read the rest” simply reloads the existing page – no new story links are displayed.

  8. ArkansasAngie

    “Naked Capitalism” is no longer your title. I noticed this maybe two weeks ago. I keep a lot of sites up and I am used to scanning for Naked Capitalism. vs Fearless …

    That used to mean something.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m not sure what you are talking about. All of our URLs start with “” so it is most assuredly still our title.

      1. Moneta

        For fun I just went into my google search bar and typed in all kinds of stuff… as soon as I start typing all kinds of stuff shows up as I add letters. But when I type in “naked” there is absolutely nada, zilch showing up.

        So the word naked is most probably a big factor.

        1. Moneta

          before 900; Middle English naked ( e ), Old English nacod; cognate with Dutch naakt, German nackt, Gothic naqths; akin to Old Norse nakinn, Latin nūdus, Greek gymnós, Sanskrit nagnás

        2. JTFaraday

          “when I type in “naked” there is absolutely nada”

          Really? I get naked

          juice, wines, brothers band, and famous, palette, lunch, capitalism, cowboy(–cowboy?!), gun, mole rat

          Okay, I’m going to go click on “cowboy.” (Mystery solved!)

  9. shtove

    I replaced laptop about a year ago. I use firefox mostly and decided not to use bookmarks, just rely on the google search box to find my previous searches. So type n, and my dropdown menu refers to naked capitalism as one of the previous search terms. But when I click that reference half the time google shows at #1 the original blogger link, which requires a click through, instead of the direct link. Recently that seems to have been solved, but it’s never happened with any other site I read. Hope this helps.

    I think your links lists would be better if you reduced the selection and gave a single sentence summary for each link. The internet loves lists, but a simple headline isn’t enough.

      1. Lambert Strether

        There’s a time trade-off, however. That might mean fewer links!

        Personally, I like the classic simplicity, especially being expressive only through order and juxtaposition.

        1. Carla

          I’m with you, Lambert. And PLEASE don’t reduce the number (or quality) of links. IMO, they are an irreplaceable window on the world.

  10. Scott

    I hope people remember this when they discuss net neutrality – we already have an internet gatekeeper, and it’s name is Google.

  11. grayslady

    You’re correct about SEO. Your site isn’t the type to benefit from it, for the most part. However, tags really are important. The ability to search on Google really has changed over the years. The search engine is much better at handling phrases but far worse at handling related word searches. On the related word searches, I’ve noticed that Google hones in on the first word and tends to ignore the others, so depending on which word you select first, you really do receive remarkably different results–except for simple searches, such as recipes with particular ingredients, where it doesn’t seem to matter which word is placed first.

    You could also be running up against “family filters”. Browsers and firewalls have become far more sophisticated, it seems, in offering settings that filter out the trash, but sometimes computer users don’t even know what is being filtered so they don’t realize that they can adjust the settings to allow for a particular site. I was astonished the other day to see that my “family filter” on Opera had blocked me from a perfectly innocuous site; but, at least the browser had the courtesy to flash up a message box telling me why it had been blocked. With firewalls, you only seem to receive a message if the firewall encounters suspicious code rather than suspicious content.

    Your links are the most discriminating on the web. Do not adjust! My only small complaint is so many Financial Times links. I can’t afford FT, and, years ago, when I tried to set up a free pass it never worked, no matter how many times I tried. Pity, since the headlines indicate some worthwhile reading.

    1. Moneta

      I have noticed that when I search stuff, the results have been getting limited…. I often use more browsers or have to be more discerning in my choice of words… essentially I have to KNOW what I am looking for!

      Something out there is working to put some blinders on me… and I don’t even think it’s a Big Brother conspiracy but just a badly engineered system revolving around materialism…. for example, when I search anything, “it” assumes my material life is built around my search and bombards me with offerings revolving around the theme I searched. Curiosity is not an option.

      1. mellon

        There is a huge amount of intentional “drown-voting” intentional censorship on the web, there are dns irregularities, some sites have found themselves in effect behind proxies of some kind. Just because you are in the US doesn’t mean your Internet is uncensored.

        Its a lot more censored than people think.

        1. Moneta

          I’m in Canada BTW. I don’t doubt there is some censorship… it’s the reasons behind the censorship that I am questioning.

    2. Lambert Strether

      On the FT, which really is essential reading, you can copy and paste the headline into a search tool. Generally that will take you to the whole story (and if not, clear cookies.) That’s one of the reasons to always include the exact headline, as written.

    3. EddieTorres

      Handy FT tip: Put the FT reporter’s name in quotes, and the article title in quotes, and search at Yahoo. The top FT result often includes an un-firewalled cached version. Also helps to clear your browser cookies fist.

  12. Moneta

    Maybe the trick is to produce multiple sarcastic identities (extreme right, moderate right, center…) and link them all to NC. Then NC will appear in the searches of all the “internets”.

    1. Moneta

      A 20 year-old recommended creating a facebook page and linking it to the blog… she’s convinced there would be way more activity…. just a thought.

  13. rob

    Having no tech experience I am only offering an anecdote.

    Google searches seem to have certain things “hidden”.
    If it was purely just using an algorithm and language. Some things would be easier to find.
    One thing in the past that seemed to be blocked.and or re-routed was years ago when I was looking for very specific stories about fbi agents Robert Wright and ? Vincent,Who had recently done an interview about the 9-11 hijackers being protected by the fbi before 9-11.They had been investigating them and their money man, Yasin Al-qadi, the Saudi who was part owner in the tech firm “P-tech”. This was After the story had already come out that P-tech had access to the top secret clearance systems,from the cia,nsa,dia,norad,secret service,FAA,etc….And this could be how the hijackers interfaced with the air traffic controls, for those “war games” that were going on on the morning of 9-11,that seemed to keep the air patrols elsewhere, and people watching the screens confused.
    But wheneve I would specifically type in anything about the virgina office of p-tech, I would be sent to info about the boston office, which the fbi raided and found nothing. Which is a no brainer since the stuff seemed to be circling around the Virginia office.But I would have to go though a half a dozen searches to get back to what I had already been seeing….
    It seemed like a very deliberate chase around. Especially since everyone else I told to check out the story, was also sent to the innocuous boston story…. while Robert wright was a whistle blower trying to get his story out…. not even the 9-11 commission would ever interview him…. just another part of the cover-up.. of the biggest coup ever.

    Maybe naked capitalism is just an inconvenient truth.After all, google must be pretty good at that now, considering their official duty being done in communist china, as we speak…. or.. you know… according to things that were never said..

  14. aliteralmind

    I would like to suggest a couple technical things regarding the “preview with link” that is the likely fate of the RSS feed. The RSS feed is my exclusive window to Naked Capitalism. I’ve come to the website for the first time in months to make this comment.

    (Although I am a computer programmer, I don’t have any blog or SEO related programming experience, so I’m not pretending to understand how easy these changes would be to implement.)

    Instead of a hard “two to three” paragraph preview in the RSS feed, consider instead a “minimum paragraph” count for short articles, and a “percentage of paragraphs” for long articles.

    In other words, a (say) three paragraph minimum preview for all articles, but for a particularly long articles, which is pretty common, a preview of (say) 25 or 33% of its paragraphs.

    In addition, there is something that has always irked me with The Verge’s RSS feed (and a couple others I follow), which I am hoping you could avoid: At the end of each Verge preview, there is a link that says “Continue reading…”. The probem is that, often, there’s only one to three words (or a trivially-short ending paragraph) remaining.

    Are Technica handles this much better. Their link says “Read remaining X paragraphs…”.

    Thanks for listening! I’m a faithful reader. Naked Capitalism and Le Show are the two most important “keep me grounded” things I have.

      1. aliteralmind

        Well, then forcing a click to read the entire article will add me to the people who actually come to the website! :)

  15. HotFlash

    It’s been a long time since I did any SEO stuff, but back in the day, Google compared the home page title was weighted heavily and was compared to both keywords and content for consistency (to avoid bait and switch). I have noticed that when I am reading the NC home page, the tab in my browser does not read ‘Naked Capitalism’, ditto my bookmark to the NC home page. Back in the day, the Googlebots didn’t read all that deep and in fact they penalized rambling titles and extensive keywording, or so we were told. I had a look at your page source and found this:

    “Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power | naked capitalism”
    Perhaps the name should go first and the motto second?

    BTW, what would people be searching on to find you? I use DuckDuckGo and did a search on naked capitalism (no quotes) and you *dominate*. Oh, and Harpers lists you as one of the top 25 economic blogs and a few obvious scam sites mention you, apparently to add legimacy to their pathetic efforts to sell conterfeit designer handbags.

    Putting on my tinfoil hat (which I am pretty sure is bugged), I am guessing that even Google wouldn’t do successive modifications to their algo just to get you, so either this is aimed at a class of sites, say, non=Google advertisers, or econ or lefty or something, or else this is an example of how a complicated algo can go wrong. Which, considering that we are all sorted by algos anymore, chilling.

    1. TheCatSaid

      Let’s hope someone here has a suitable Google contact so the site can be white-listed.

  16. Mel

    As an informal test, I googled “Electronic Health Records” hoping to catch an old article. It’s on page 5 in the results. So locking out the Google bots is definitely not a problem any more, but you’re buried pretty deep. A article is listed on page 4 (actually that article shows up on page 1, but that’s because it’s been aggregated by Forbes.), and that’s it for the commentary sites that I recognize. A reasonable proportion of the page 1 and 2 listings are from .gov and similar sites. After that, the Internet being what it is, the preponderance of listings are sales pitches.

  17. Frobert

    “E-mail readers will also get a truncated version and will need to click through to the site to read our articles in f.ull. Some e-mail readers said they’d be willing to subscribe to keep getting a full text version via e-mail….

    At least with WordPress, there is no off-the-shelf way to give e-mail readers full text while truncating the RSS, and a custom solution is prohibitive for a site of our scale. “

    There is a plugin “DualFeed” ( for two separate feeds (full post and summary). The problem: it has not been updated since 2007 but the source is GPL so you would not need to start from scratch to update it.

  18. Steve H.

    Something similiar happened to Metafilter recently, and they had to lay off staff.

    Several of the blogs I read came from a link from NA, making it one of three hubs of information which I use to understand what the news isn’t saying. Metafilter is another, meaning 2/3 of my primary hubs have been untrended by Google very recently.

    I love basketball, but the referees control the outcome of the game by what they don’t call, as much as what they do.

    Not liking Google’s non-calls much at all.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Actually, the Metafilter people sought and ultimately got some redresss (although IIRC they can’t really talk about it). So that is a hopeful sign.

      One thing that worries me a little is that Google, through, is in the aggregation business as well. So it occurs to me that downgrading curated aggregation sites like Metafilter and NC Links might not be a total coincidence. I wonder if anything is happening with Fark,

  19. gonzomarx

    I would regret any change to the links as they are a mainstay of my daily routine, my lunchtime reading.
    I find the links and comments some of the most informative and entertaining stuff about.

  20. Jack Heape

    Yves, just my two cents. I used to do a lot of SEO for local business and still am an internet marketing consultant, but now primarily I just do lead generation. However, I do keep up with the business. One, I think your big hit from the last Panda update has to do with your daily link post that is listed on your site as content. Great idea to help your readers. But the latest Panda update in May hit content aggregators very badly. For instance, and took major hits in their visibility from Panda 4.0. Your posting all of those links looks like you are an aggregator since the number of links listed as content far outweighs the actual content posted. The “Links” post is also bad because it is the very first link listed under your site content section. Secondly, you need to change your title tag. Lose the adjective “Fearless”. The start of the title tag is the most important spot for search engine queries. Some SEO sources recommend that you put your brand name at the end of the title tag, like you do, but in your case I would put it first. Your brand name is well know enough that it being first will make a difference in click through rates. I wouldn’t mess with content tags. You have a great category listing and that should do enough for the hierarchy of your site. Keyword tags on content can cause problems if not done properly because Google can see it as duplicate content. Like I said, just my two cents. Good luck. Playing games with the Google behemoth if you need your content found is almost a full time job in itself.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Thank for the ideas. On Links, some random thoughts that I’ve toyed with (which most definitely aren’t endorsed by Yves in any way): First, it’s not clear what the threshold for Google seeing a list of Links as “bad aggregator” might be. If it’s 10 or worse 5 or 6, we could rob the Peter of the yearly fundraiser, which is reader service driven, to pay the Paul of online advertising. Second, can you think of editorial or structural changes that would make Google think of Links as a “good aggregator”? For example, (a) if we added prose after each link (leaving link and headline as is; (b) we embedded links within prose, changing the headline; (c) we broke Links into smaller buckets, each below whatever the threshold might be, and set them to fire in sequence; (d) we simple reduce the Links below the threshold, permanently. I’m throw that out to ask the question of how rapidly we might see a result? Finally, these are all major changes, and so it would be nice to have some reliable sources to go read. When you were in the trade, what did you read? Thanks!

    2. mellon

      Yes, put Naked Capitalism first – the first link I get when I type in is this:

      Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and …
      Naked Capitalism
      World’s Most Influential Finance and Economics Blog with Trenchant Commentary, Tenacious Investigation and Insider Political/Regulatory Analysis.

      The blog name should be first in the title – The meta description is the text that immediately will follow what’s in the title.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Kristin begs to differ. Google sees the nakedcapitalism, which is coded in our logo:

        Google sees the image title which is the same as the image because the image says the same thing.
        By the way, in case you are curious, this is the code that we have used for that image since I put it there months ago:

        naked capitalism
        Note the title attribute on the anchor tag and the fact that the relationship attribute says that it’s home. Also, the words “naked capitalism” show to Google as the actual link text. Google sees “Naked Capitalism” more than once, and understands this is the link to the home page for Naked Capitalism. The name is in the title as well. This is called semantic coding and it’s what I do by default.

        This is all fine and what Google wants and expects.

  21. Some Guy

    I didn’t read all the comments but I did read the post. First, I think simply “looking at the numbers” when search is involved is a bad idea because the fox has always guarded the hen house. All search providers are essentially monopolies of search information and it’s always in thier interest to show traffic, no matter what the source. Here’s one of many sources: . So my first guess is that you are seeing the real traffic for you site minus the bogus clicks coming from india.

    Second, I think when technology providers today think about thier business models, they’ve entered into the “rent” taking stage of thier business… where initially growth was driven by revenue; now it’s about “regulating” away the competition. These algorithms are HIGHLY opinionated aka they use artificial intelligence that is dictated by what Google thinks you really mean.

    Finally, The word Naked is a highly offensive word int he states for reasons I’m sure you are aware, and it’s not unreasonable for the search engine to represent the parternalism of the nation… unintentionally.

    So there are 3 non targeted conspiracy theories.

    1. rur42

      Once upon a time my old lady did a search of my credit card bill and “naked” something or other popped up and I had a devil of a time trying to explain that it was a contribution to Naked Capitalism…..oh, right,

  22. East side

    I check out the links nearly everyday, and enjoy the site all around. However, the number of links has ramped up over the years. A short unscientific study … Links 6/22/xx for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 = 43, 28, 25, 15! I personally thought 15 was a good number. 43 is somewhat overwhelming.

    1. Lambert Strether

      That could be, and more links equal more time. We could sacrifice being exhaustive. OTOH, it may be that more is simply happening. There are times when I think the 0.01% is running a spread offense, if you see what I mean. Both Ukraine and Iraq, and Syria has been disappeared. We’ve got all the existing financial malefactors, and then new ones, as the shadow banks.

  23. Roland

    The Goog funneled that traffic to advertising (distraction/nonsense) rather than quality content. Unless there really is a behavioral change that happens to correlate with algorithms, they are taking your lunch. Naturally, this forces the hand to either make NC pay, contort or go away.

    I agree with others – Goog gets more clueless and irrelevant every day. On the flipside, perhaps the people that can find NC other ways are the ones you want around, anyway. Digital word-of-mouth (cross linking with other blogs) still works – just like the old dialup BBS days.

    Also, if one can stomach changing a “number 2” baby diaper, guest posts on places like Zero Hedge can navigate the Goog (while still providing direct exposure to a relevant audience).

  24. John Bennett

    I found this a fascinating description of how search engines work and can mislead or be manipulated. I have loved your hate i.e., Google, but I am not choosy as long as I get a reasonable answer to my question. In any case, I will save you write-up and read it again in the future. And I will continue reading you and sharing it with others. You are the greatest.
    Have you thought about going to their regulator? How about in Europe?
    Your problem is political and isn’t going to evaporate. Competition is driving this and Google is running scared. You need to be more aggressive. Have you thought of combining with others who depend on search engines for their custom? Talk to them. Sit down with the government and your Congress folks. Someone is always looking for an advantage and that will drive the game. Put together your own lobby.

  25. DamnedLiberal

    How I detest google.
    I’ve been using bing or duckduckgo for search.
    I’ve obtained a paid email account at fastmail.
    I use vimeo for my videos.
    All because google has become as loathsome as facebook.
    And that’s before even getting into its political contributions practice.

    1. supermundane

      They latest iteration of is excellent. I see no reason to continue using Google. Others worth checking are and – both European-based.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The problem is that you are preaching to people who already read this site.

        A lot of people find this site for the first time via Google searches. The impact on our traffic demonstrates that.

        1. supermundane

          I appreciate that Yves and it certainly doesn’t assist in the short to medium term with your troubles but nonetheless I think it’s important to get the word out that that there are solid alternatives – anything to gradually chip away at the Google monopoly for the benefit of all. The more people who shift, the better it is.

        2. agkaiser

          I come to the site through the links in the NC emails I receive daily. Thunderbird downloads from my gmail account. Yesterday no NC email. I had to log into the account and fish them out of the Spam folder, where Google put them. This is the first time that happened with NC, I think, which I’ve received daily for several years.

  26. BITFU

    OR….your site’s not as good as it used to be. Sorry, but it’s true.

    Take the Private Equity Series, for example: While admirable, it whiffed from the perspective of Reader Engagement. And Lambert’s stuff has the feel of a 2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper that was opened two weeks ago and lost its fizz. As for Yves…it just feels like you’re bored with it all.

    I wouldn’t blame Google. It’s Naked Capitalism. You need to make some changes. It’s not nearly as compelling or thought provoking as it used to be.

    1. John Mc

      Between the petty insults and the trolling behavior, you really insult yourself here (and our intelligence) simultaneously. One might ask why you are here at all, but that would involve something greater than my indifference.

    2. skippy

      BITFU Jones, Welcome to Triberr. A community of Influencers.

      Influencer Marketing is a new form of marketing where companies hire influential bloggers to promote and endorse their brand, products or services.

      For years, big brands like Nike would hire celebrities like Tiger Woods to endorse their products. These celebrities had tremendous reach and influence through television.

      Today, bloggers and social media enthusiasts are the celebrities of the Internet. While a popular blogger may not have the reach of Tiger Woods, hundreds of bloggers working together do.

      Triberr’s Influencer Marketer campaigns are way for brands to hire large groups of Influencers who can work together to achieve a single brand goal.

      Skippy… snicker… influenced…. look in the mirror BITFU….

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Private equity are the alpha rentiers in this economy. If you don’t care, they will continue eating your lunch. And we get good RSS clicks on those posts, which says they are being read, and I know from private correspondence that we are influencing the narrative at other publications, probably more than we have on any previous topic.

      We are talking about a slide in since Panda rolled out. The connection is clear. Your not liking that this isn’t a hot time for financial commentary and analysis is not something we can control. Political sites have a similar problem in years when there are no Congressional/Presidential races. We can’t just make up stuff to write about, we are news/trend driven.

      In fact, I doubt anything we do would make you happy. The runup to the crisis was a hot time for obvious reasons, as was the period right afterward. In our private equity posts, we provide the sort of wonky, expert, ahead of the curve commentary that has been a NC staple but you don’t like that either. We didn’t get a lot of “reader engagement” on either our early or our more technical mortgage/chain of title posts, but we got a lot of loyalty and even some political clout by being recognized experts on that beat. We can tell private equity will become only a hotter news topic, and this is clearly extremely important from a political/social perspective.

  27. different clue

    my comments all fail to nest. They all come at the bottom of the thread. This comment was in reply to upstream reports of worse search results by whatever engine. I have also noticed this. Things which used to come up no longer do despite using the same phrases as before. Also, a huge amount of commercial trash links come up mixed in with the very first “page” of links.

    The Information Superhighway is becoming the Infocommercial Supersewer right before our very noses.

    1. mellon

      I have that problem too. In order to have my comments nest I have to use a completely different browser that I basically save for these problem cases. I have allowed it to run scripts, Flash, everything, No security.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’ve pinged Kristin about this. No idea why this happens. It may be a WordPress bug, which means it is beyond our control. If there is a fix, we will implement it, but that might take a week or two. Kristin is really backed up.

  28. ltr

    Dear Yves,
    I am so sorry you are troubled. do know this blog means so much to me and I deeply appreciate all you and Lambert do.


  29. Glenn

    Please don’t rely on Google for anything. For web searching, DuckdDuckGo is the only viable option for impartial searches. I receive the email version for the postings and I am satisfied with the product. Please don’t alter how the web content is presented if it will diminish the quality of the email presentation. Thanks

    1. mellon

      Doesn’t duck duck go aggregate other search engines (like google) Also, you can bet that sites that claim to be “secure” (or which have names that imply dissent!) have a nonzero chance of being run by some acronym agency

        1. supermundane

          There is also and – both European-based and neither track you.

  30. TheCatSaid

    Regarding keywords for content, one of the marvellous things about this site is that the comments often offer invaluable information about a topic that’s tangential to the topic of the main post. For example, in a current NC post about the VA, , NC commenters have given valuable info to extensive research on HR policy (how financial rewards have a negative impact on performance and increase cheating), with links for the sources.

    I don’t know what keywords were used for the main post, but they probably would not have included words relating to the valuable subject matter in the comments.

  31. ChrisPacific

    Do you have any analytics or reporting on the site? (Google Analytics or something similar). If so, can you do a report on referrer URLs with trends? That might tell you what search terms led most often to your site, then and now, which might help you to figure out what’s changed.

    Typing Naked Capitalism into Google still brings up your site as the first result, so it’s something more subtle than that. On the assumption that people who are looking specifically for your site will probably manage to find it, I expect the readers you’re missing out on are the ones who are searching on a general topic with no particular site in mind. A referrer analysis would help you figure out who those people are and which of them you might be seeing less of. Once you had your list of top search terms, you could then type them into Google Trends to figure out how many people were searching on those terms overall. So for example if you’re seeing a 40% drop in clicks from people searching on “mortgage fraud”, while Google Trends shows that overall searches based on that term have doubled in the same timeframe, something is probably going on. Conversely if Trends shows an overall 40% drop in searches for that term as well, then it might just be normal traffic variation.

  32. mellon

    The smiple fact that the main title on the main home page doesnt start with “naked capitalism” is a big thing. You can use Google’s “ to see the effect of that change – make sure you also sign up for google’s webmaster tools.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m not willing to do Google+, period, which is what is required for authoring. They also want a picture of me. I don’t use Facebook for the same reason. I am not about to attach a headshot to a name for the benefit of the surveillance state.

  33. ArmchairRevolutionary

    You could expand the use For example, it is used here in your source:

    itemscope itemtype=””

    If you follow the link the, you can find that there are a lot of properties that can be defined. Some that might be helpful:


  34. John

    Any update on this? Your article was referenced on a popular search marketing website, and I remember Naked Capitalism from when I was a regular reader a few years ago. Guess you’re the latest victim in Google’s war on everyone.

    If you have not recovered, and since you’ve already got some experience with SEO scammers, I would say:

    1. It’s going to be expensive / time consuming to recover, and you may not even make it back if you do make the investment.
    2. Google openly brags about “breaking spirits”, so the company is quite happy with websites getting hit and having a terrible time making it back.

    That said, I hope it was some random error and everything is fixed now.

  35. Reader

    I have had NC bookmarked for many years, but in the past two weeks the bookmark takes me to an “empty” site, that seems like it is connected to NC but nearly all the content is missing. I can get to NC simply by Googling it, but this requires an extra step – no big deal, but an annoyance.

Comments are closed.