Google: Sued Again Over “Bad” Listing

Building Contractor Sues Google for Indexing Consumer Complaint from Wired highlights yet another case where a someone wants to sue Google over how they are listed. Cases like these have lost in the past, but people keep trying.

In this case, New Jersey building contractor RSA Homes is upset that a search for "RSA Homes" returns a page from Rip Off Report that is critical of RSA Homes in bold. The result looks like this:

Rip-off highlights RSA Homes

RSA Homes demanding that Google remove the page. It remained up.

Back in October of last year, Eric Goldman reported how Google won a similar suit filed by Mark Maughan. He was upset that searches relating to his business came back with listings suggesting he was disciplined by the California Board of Accountancy for negligence.

Beyond that, a ruling recently found Google and search engines in general have a protected First Amendment right to carry ads — or not — that are critical of others.

In March, Google also won the case versus KinderStart, where KinderStart argued that not ranking well in Google was harmful and should be corrected. Coincidentally, today KinderStart appealed this decision.

Back to the RSA Homes case, it’s interesting that one reason the company is concerned is that a lender saw the listing when doing a search on the company as part of considering a funding request. The bad PR from the listing is said to have "interfered" with the ability to secure the money. This is also said to have happened with other financial institutions, too.

Yesterday, New US Border Check Tool: Google covered how bad listings in Google and other search engines could prevent you from entering the United States. Now add to the list that bad listings might stop a loan from going through.

Finally, there are some times Google will indeed remove the content of others. Danny’s Google Releases Improved Content Removal Tools article from last week goes into more depth about this.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Legal | Legal: Crawling & Indexing


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Erik

    Barry – note that the unopened letter was sent from RSA to the Rip-Off Report — not to Google.

    I was curious as to why Google would return a letter unopened, but it makes much more sense that the Rip-Off Report would return it unopened, as the guy can be reasonably sure of a letter’s contents. :)

  • Michael Martinez

    And the Daily Telegraph has sued Google and Yahoo! for crawling their content (when all they had to do was update their robots.txt file to disallow the crawlers).

  • savage

    Now the total bad press for this contractor is far greater than before.

    Hopefully, someone offering (serp) reputation management services is mining rip off report for potential customers.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Thanks, Erik — we fixed that. Michael, the Telegraph is hinting at suing, no doubt trying to play the game of the Belgian newspapers to pressure for some deal. Ironically, I believe the Telegraph has employed people who help optimize their listings in search engines (something the current editor might not be aware of). That will make any court battle much fun.

  • mooreseo

    I agree with savage- now everyone knows about this company and his bad reputation. I also found the background on the kinderstart story very interesting including the fact that they are accusing Google of being in violation of the Free Speech Act, yet demanding that Google ban other sites… can anyone say double standard?

  • Fionn

    The Ripped Off Report is not exactly a credible “consumer advocate” as he calls himself. His own reputation is not exactly good in Google try a search for “ED Magedson” If I were RSA I would use that to discredit the report rather than taking on Google. It does’nt make any sense to take on Google.

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