Google De-lists AntiPolygraph.org on Key Search Terms

Search DuckDuckGo for “polygraph” and you’ll find that AntiPolygraph.org, which hosts more documentation on polygraphs than any other site on the Internet, and you’ll find AntiPolygraph.org in the top 10 results. The same is true for searches on “polygraph” with Microsoft’s Bing search engine (in the United States), with Russia’s Yandex search engine, and with the open-source searX search engine.

But search Google for “polygraph” and you very likely will not be shown any links to any pages on AntiPolygraph.org.

This has not always been true. For years since going online in 2000, AntiPolygraph.org was Google’s top search result for “polygraph.” Eventually, the Wikipedia article titled “Polygraph” took the number 1 spot, but AntiPolygraph.org long remained among the top 10.

Then, around the time the federal government launched Operation Lie Busters, which targeted the owners of websites that provided information on how to pass (or beat) a polygraph “test” for entrapment and criminal prosecution, AntiPolygraph.org’s Google ranking for “polygraph” slipped, often appearing on the second, third, or later pages of results. AntiPolygraph.org has reason to believe that co-founder George Maschke was targeted in Operation Lie Busters, and that visitors to AntiPolygraph.org have been the target of electronic eavesdropping.

AntiPolygraph.org provides documentation on polygraphy that the U.S. government’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies do not want the public — especially those who face polygraph “testing” — to know, including the precise questions asked in various polygraph techniques (PDF), how to pass or beat a polygraph “test” (PDF), and the federal government’s unscientific and ineffective methodology for attempting to detect polygraph countermeasures.

In 2018, it appears that Google has effectively de-listed AntiPolygraph.org for such relevant keywords as “polygraph” and “lie detector.” We first noticed this early in the year; the de-listing has persisted for at least four months.

Google Search Analytics shows that from 29 March 2018 to 26 June 2018, there were no clicks via Google searches on “polygraph” to any page on AntiPolygraph.org:

There were only 7 clicks via Google searches on “lie detector” to any page on AntiPolygraph.org:

Similarly, there were zero clicks via Google searches on “polygraphs” or “lie detectors.”

For comparison purposes, during the same period, there were 165 clicks via Google searches on the exact phrase “where to find underage porn,” even though the linked page does not remotely address this question:

It seems that something is not kosher here. AntiPolygraph.org is a non-profit, public interest website. We host no advertising and we don’t engage in spam, link-farming, or other abusive practices.

Reader thoughts are welcome.

Update (30 June 2018): The situation appears to be worse than we imagined, as illustrated in this screenshot from Google Search Console Beta:

The chart shows that over the past 16 months, Google reports 146,576 impressions for the search word “polygraph,” with an average position of 8.4, but only 381 total clicks, for an average click through rate of just 0.3%!