Ripoff Report Not Banned, But Removes Itself From Google’s Index

ripoff-report

Ripoff Report is completely gone from Google’s index and Google says it’s been done at Ripoff Report’s own request. But, the question now is whether that request was made on purpose or an accident.

Update: As our postscript below explains, Ripoff Report is now back in Google’s index.

As the image above shows, a site:ripoffreport.com search brings up Google’s standard “Your search did not match any documents” message. We learned about this via Jeff Quipp’s tweet this afternoon, but Sean Hakes seems to be the first to notice.

A Google spokesperson says the site is not banned, but was removed after Google received a request to do so via Google Webmaster Tools:

The owner of this site delegated access in our webmaster console to multiple email accounts, and one of those email accounts submitted a url removal request for the site. We’ve emailed the site owner to check whether the site removal was an intended action, or whether the removal was a mistake.

We’ve also reached out to Ripoff Report for comment, but have not received a reply.

Back in March 2010, Google simplified its verification system for adding multiple users to a Webmaster Tools account. Google’s own blog post even contained a warning about delegating ownership to new users:

…remember that anyone you delegate ownership to will have exactly the same access you have. They can delegate to more people, submit URL Removal requests and manage Sitelinks in Webmaster Tools, etc. Only delegate ownership to people you trust!

Bing continues to show about 500,000 pages indexed from Ripoff Report.

Postscript, 10:00 pm PST: An attorney representing Ripoff Report contacted us via email tonight with this response to our article:

Ripoff Report did not intentionally request Google to delist the website, and we are still investigating what occured.

We also updated the text above to clarify how we learned about the situation and who was first to report it.

And finally, as Karun Verma reports in the comments below, Ripoff Report is back in Google’s index now.

ripoff-report-2

Postscript #2: Ed Magedson of Ripoff Report has confirmed to Search Engine land that one of his company’s employees accidentally caused the company to be removed from Google’s index temporarily. Here’s the full statement he sent us:

Hello everyone, this is Ed Magedson, Editor and founder of Ripoff Report,

Yesterday, I nearly had a heart attack when I learned that Ripoff Report was not being listed on Google search results.

It was an “in your face” reminder that sites like Ripoff Report depend on Google to survive. Of course, I was worried that it was the end of Ripoff Report. While I would love to sell the website someday, I sure don’t want it to vanish. I didn’t know it when I started the industry 15 years ago, but review sites are the voice of the people and have changed the way business is done today. Sure, there are copycat sites out there — some of them literally copied our content to get their start. But Ripoff Report is not just the original, it is the only review site that I know of that doesn’t cave to bullying by businesses who want to hide negative information and that protects anonymous authors.

Plus, if Ripoff Report were gone, what would happen to the “reputation management” companies whose business model is hiding the truth by pushing Ripoff Reports down on the search engine rankings? They would lose the ability to charge ridiculously high rates to companies who don’t want to use our fair arbitration program or join our CAP program because it would require them to improve their customer service and provide refunds. How would they feed their children?!

Anyway, all these “what ifs” went away when we learned what really happened. A big “thank you” to Matt McGee, who has much better connections to people at Google than I do. Based on the explanation from Google that Matt posted, we were able to figure out what occurred.

It turns out that one of the tech people hit the wrong button. I still don’t completely understand the technical explanation for happened. What I do understand is that it is fixed. Ripoffreport.com is back on the Google index, defending consumers and freedom of speech on the internet as vigorously as ever.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.planetc1.com/ Michael Dorausch

    Sure did create quite a commotion today with tweets related to the topic. This is less dramatic than I expected.

  • http://www.blackfreelancer.com Elise Connors

    Hmmm…that’s interesting. Rip Off Report is a good site, though many users have abused it, but I liked being able to find out the “bad” about a company usually with a simple Google search.

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    And how do you know when the “bad” is good or not? RipOff Report is not unique in hosting supposed consumer complaints. There are other sites that are equally noisome to both innocent and not-so-innocent businesses.

    I would have found it strange for Google to take action without some compelling reason.

  • Zad Imam

    I’m guessing one of the users accidentally requested it, or perhaps even got hacked. Lesson learned, keep users to a minimum, or no one but yourself for the safest bet.

  • http://www.greg365.com S.M.

    No way on this planet that these people chose to have themselves removed from Google. Hahahhaha!

  • http://ripoffreport.com Ripoff Report

    We’re here. What would you like to know?

  • http://chuckreynolds.us Chuck Reynolds

    100 bucks says a low paid intern or somebody screwed up. he wouldn’t have taken himself out.. that’s how he makes money.

  • http://highwick.com Nick Braak

    The twitter and blog chatter on this has been quick to assume, and in some cases gloat :-)

    Yet as we all know Google would never have completely removed a site like RipoffReport.com unless there had been major TOS violations. For all their faults and controversial place in the online ecosystem, ROR seems to have been free of blackhat methods. I’ve never seen a ROR splog or shill comment and their social media activities are very, very low-key.

    Anyhow, it is indeed going to be interesting to see how this plays out. IMHO a hack or phishing based takeover of the webmaster account is very possible. And if that is what happened, a lesson for us all.

  • Arnie Newburg

    @ Ripoff Report, August 9th, 2011 at 8:43 pm ET:
    We’re here. What would you like to know?
    ——————
    What happened?

  • Arnie Newburg

    Anyone that posts anything slightly positive with regard to ROR is showing their lack of experience and should never be considered for SEO or any kind of Web Marketing. They have extorted money from many people and have been under investigation by the FBI for several years.

  • http://www.seanhakes.com Sean Hakes

    Actually my tweet came in 4 hours earlier than the one you quoted above as the source..

    Thanks for checking in on this either way good info.

  • http://www.aaronkellylaw.com aaronklaw

    I emailed Ripoff Reports attorney to ask what the deal was, and apparently they were unaware? I noticed the results were gone as early as 730 a.m. PST. I’m sure that this is only the beginning and what will unfold will certainly shake up the SEO/SEM world (whether its changes to Google Webmaster, or online reputation management).

  • http://nima.co Nima Jacob Nojoumi

    “They can delegate to more people, submit URL Removal requests and manage Sitelinks in Webmaster Tools, etc. Only delegate ownership to people you trust!”

    Can we moderate privileges or is the access level stuck at ownership or not verified at all? Help would be much appreciated. This could be a nightmare for business owners that don’t know any better and have a falling out with an seo / webmaster.

  • http://www.freewebsitelist.com/ Karun Verma

    RoR is back into the Google SERPs and site:ripoffreport.com is showing approx 9 lakhs indexed pages in Google.

  • ep2002

    Sorry people, anyone who thinks Rip off report is ethical, think again.

    They have ruined many people’s lives & caused many ethical businesses to go bankrupt.

    You can read about it here…

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-anatomy-of-a-ripoff-report-lawsuit

    I warn you, it’s a long thread as this has been going on for years.

    What goes on behind the scenes at Rip off Report…

  • me

    Or… A brilliant publicity stunt!

    Exposure. Articles. Posts. Mindshare. Traffic. LINKS!

    Any publicity is good publicity.

  • http://ripoffreport.com Ripoff Report

    Arnie – why do you say that about the FBI? Do you work for the FBI?

    ep2002 – mostly opinion. Do actually know someone who you think a report on our site has harmed?

  • http://www.freewebsitelist.com/ Karun Verma

    As RoR is back in the Google results, lets continue the reputation management again… :P

  • http://www.MyRevSource.com Scot Small

    ROR is nothing but a bully in the internet space. We are working with a client now who has had damage done. They have taken the person who made the comments on ROR to court and sued them. ROR has done nothing to help repair the problem. This is a company that has been in business for over 35 years and has a stellar reputation. These types of site are nothing but users making false statements about competitors – very few legitimate comments or ratings are real. They should all be banned.

  • http://infidelnation.com R.B.

    Ripoff Report, thanks for taking the time to manage your reputation here. Can you tell me why there isn’t a section on your sight for complaints against Ripoff Report? Many companies have their own directory but somehow you don’t seem to have any complaints against yourselves?

  • http://www.freewebsitelist.com/ Karun Verma

    @ Ripoff Report, All businesses were very happy when they heard the news that Ripoff Report is delisted from the Google Listings. When a business offers a service, it is natural that they can’t make everyone happy and complaints should be there but I think its not fair enough to ruin a business just because of one complaint, (even when you are not sure whether the complaint is genuine or not). I had seen many businesses that are losing business just because of the fake RoRs.

    Ripoff Report must investigate the complaint first before publishing it on their website or atleast there must be some provision that the accused gets a chance to prove the genuineness of his business.

  • http://www.FastF.com FFM

    The answer isn’t to censor Ripoff Report or anyone else. Yes, if someone has a sustained malicious campaign against your business, sue them. But mostly, just work at getting positive reviews about your business on Google Places and elsewhere.

    That should be a part of your overall Internet marketing program anyway.

    What if someone puts a negative review on Google Places? or Yelp?

    Most consumers know you can’t make everyone happy. What they are looking for is the ratio of good to bad.

    I personally have avoided a bad purchase thanks to Ripoff Report.

  • Johnny

    Rip Off Report does harm in another significant way — they allow truly bad companies to pay ROR a large sum of money to obfuscate and distort the truth about those companies. They add some disclaimer at the top about (paraphrasing) “doing our own due diligence on the company and these complaints, and have found the company to be upright and very caring about its customers.” That line of baloney has been paid for.

  • http://blog.mainstreethost.com Craig Kilgore

    As ep2002 already stated, great blog about ripoff report – http://www.seomoz.org/blog/the-anatomy-of-a-ripoff-report-lawsuit … ripoff report definitely needs to monitor their reports better as I have been combating bogus reports for numerous clients over the years. Let the rep management continue!

  • harmed by ror

    Yes, I was harmed by a revenge attack on ripoff report. I reported a scam and the company posted a number of reports that alleged I hacked their computers and stalked their employees. An employee of this company posted my location and phone number and ripoff report published it. The only way that the employees could know that I posted the complaint was from my ripoff report registration details. I stupidly registered on ripoff report with my correct details and it appears that the Ed gave them to the company (he has admitted that he passes on details of consumers who files reports). I received death threats and harassing phone calls. I am an individual who posted a report on a scam in good faith. I begged ripoff report to remove my contact details but they did not respond. I sent ripoff report proof that I could not hack anyone’s computers in the form of invoices from computer support which included basic function such as loading a virus buster. They did not respond. In the end I had no choice but to sue Google to stop the harassment. I do not live in the US and am not subject to the CDA. As soon as I filed proceedings against ripoff report Google removed the links to the ripoff report. However since ror keep recreating the links i have to proceed with the case against Google in order to ensure that the links are removed permanently. We are in court again next week and I have made the decision to speak with the press because as ripoff report states on their site they have no jurisdiction outside the US so I can tell the truth without fear of reprisals. There is nothing more that this website can do to hurt me. I lost my job and have been harassed because the cruelty of this website. However I am fighting back in a country in which ripoff report does not have any legal protection and taking back my life.

    I

  • http://ripoffreport.com Ripoff Report

    Harmed by RoR -

    Have you contacted Ed about this?

  • ep2002

    The difference between ROR & the other complaint sites is:

    1. They will respond to e-mails & not hide, & if you can prove the complaint is false or a competitor made it, they will remove the complaint.
    2. They actually seem to care about making sure the complaints are legitimate. Ed seems to only care about stirring up trouble & causing pain to businesses. In fact, the man is never ever around, meaning you can’t find him. If a person TRULY believes in what kind of business they are running (Rip off Report), why would he hide & keep moving around all over the US & maybe even outside the US?

    Whoever mentioned Yelp, go read all the negative reviews about Yelp. I have first hand knowledge that they TOO take down negative reports after me & countless others have placed them there probably b/c they are getting money. Why else would they take down reports? I’ve posted 3 VERY long reports & they were all taken down & of course when you write them, they just throw mumbo jumbo about how there must have been something wrong with the post.

    FFM – maybe you did avoid a purchase that would have stressed you out, but what about all the companies you didn’t purchase from that are good ethical companies?

    Large corporations can afford negative reviews as they are sometimes a monopoly, small companies can not.

    Anyone can post anything about any company (disgruntled employees, fraudulent ex clients, the company’s competition,etc.) . If they are NOT required to provide their REAL name & e-mail address, they are essentially getting away with character assassination with no repercussions.

    I would like to see the law changed that if anyone posts something, they have to provide REAL information (NOT FAKE) so the company can demand this info from the review site owner & sue them or at least explain their side of the story as there are always 2 sides.

    If the review site refuses to provide this info or the info proves to be false, then they have to take the post down.

    If we don’t even know who’s posting, how do you expect a company to defend themselves? AND how can you trust someone’s negative post if they themselves is lying about who they are?

    There are TONS of wannabee writers out there online. Very unhappy people who go around harassing people every day. They also just replace people with businesses.

  • harmed by ror

    Ripoff Report, yes I begged Ed and his lawyers to help many times but did not receive a reply. I even pointed out a comment on one of the ‘reports’ about me that said ‘let’s all harass her’. I begged for help because I was scared. The harassment stopped eventually but I then lost my job. I again begged Ed and his lawyers to help but was ignored.

    I reiterate that I was a consumer who thought rip off report was legit and posted about a ripoff but Ed passed on my details to the company and the staff used this to post reports about me and harass me as a revenge. Ed doesn’t care about people who are targeted and harassed only about those who can pay. I have been through an unmitigated hell because I posted about a ripoff and all they had to do was redact a little bit of information. I literally begged Ed and his lawyers so don’t believe this crap about him caring about consumers. In the end I had no choice but to litigate. I emphasise that I begged Ed many times to at least remove my work and personal phone number. I became very ill from the stress of the harassment and losing my job but I pulled myself together and found another option.

    Ror are untouchable outside the US but Google is not. Litigation was absolutely the final option but as soon as my lawyers filed proceedings Google acted to remove links. I am continuing on with the action to ensure that I get a court order to keep the links off Google and I am suing for compensation. The latter was not my original aim but I have been put through hell with the harassment and the loss of my job.

    The only applicable defence in my country is truth and the defendant has to provide the evidence. There is none so I am not worried. I need my internet service help desk to coach me to hook up a wireless modem and this is not a sign an expert hacker…lol..

    I am suing both Google Inc and the Google company in my country. It hasn’t hit the media yet because I refused requests to comment but I think that it needs to be in the public domain to show that there is a way to stand up to online bullying and harassment and that people should not post about ripoffs because the same thing could happen to them.

    I have a Directions Hearing this week and no doubt the media will contact my lawyers again (the media are sent the court lists and suing Google is big news) so I will agree to an interview if I can convince my lawyers to allow it. I am taking back my life and I will not allow a bully to take away my ability to work .I have an unusual last name and occupation and I want it back. Hopefully this will also be a lesson to consumers not to trust these slimy websites.

  • harmed by ror

    I have to say that Bing removed the links to ripoff report when I notified them. Interestingly they even removed links to directories so i guess ripoff report lost a few links other than those to the ‘reports’ about me. Google refused to remove the links hence the legal action for defamation.

  • harmed by ror

    I am not a SEO and my knowledge of the internet is limited but my lawyers have told me to keep track of all the ripoff report urls on a weekly basis and I just realised something. i said that I used my real details to login to ripoff report and Ed gave or sold them to the people I complained about. since I have a fairly unusual name and i had a job that resulted in publications on the internet not only did Ed use my occupation and location to create more links but he turned the Original report of the ripoff and my comments into links containing the defamatory terms terms. So now Ripoff Report has about 60 links to my name.

    Now SEOs would probably think this is good work but people who might consider posting about a ripoff not so much. As for your ridiculous and cruel question of ‘who has been harmed’, ripoff report why don’t you read the comments on this petition:
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/remove-rip-off-report-from-google.html

    Ripoff Report, you do not have jurisdiction over me. I can say what I like about you without being sued for defamation as long as it is true. All you had to do was change a few details and remove the comment that invited people to harass me to prove that you are not a liar (it says on your website to inform you about harassment. I not only informed you I begged you to help.

    In my country there is growing pressure to appoint an internet ombudsman because overseas websites will not remove this sort of thing – keep the search engines in lines, so to speak. We don’t have freedom of spech or the CDA and Google is pressured to remove overseas based websites and webpages when they bully or threaten people and they comply. At the very least I can put it out there that people should not post complaints on ripoff report because the same thing may happen to them. I have been unemployed for over a year due to ripoff Report. Yet somehow I have managed to take one of the most powerful companies in the world to court. I have found strength out of all the devastation you have caused and I want to warn others not to go anywhere near your website. You are an evil bully and if you think the rest of the world capitulates to the CDA you are a stupid evil bully.

  • harmed by ror

    Please excuse the mistakes in the spelling and grammar. It is hard to write properly through tears. I had a career that I loved and lost because my name appeared in a Google search with the words ripoff etc. I POSTED about a ripoff. I am not a business. How on Earth can you say you have not harmed anyone? Who do you think the public will believe?

  • http://www.seocatalysts.com/ I.M.

    I can’t find the actual reason behind this two-three day news of Rip Off Report…

  • harmed by ror

    I see that ripoff report have not commented.

    I ask them why they did not remove the comment that said ‘let’s harass her’ and my contact details. I pleaded with them several times..

    I reiterate, I am NOT a business, I am a private individual who posted about a scam on ripoff report in good faith. The company posted revenge ‘reports’ including the comment to ‘harass her’. I lost my job.

    They are evil!!!

  • http://MMBrokers.com Shawn

    Well for those of you who were asking about actual businesses that have been effected by Ed and his extortion scheme, I am one of them. How Google engineers havent taken the initiative and removed them completely from their Index is beyond me. I’ve read for hours on how they are manipulating keywords and not only is it highly unethical but it is against Googles own TOS. Old Ed has been under investigation by many different law enforcement agencies and it is only a matter of time before he pays for his obscene behavior. He is nothing but a half ass con man. For those of you who don’t know, Ed does offer a GREAT solution for those business owners who want to rebuttal any negative postings that have been made against them. The guy or girl who posts whatever they want, free of charge, never to be edited or even reviewed. Yeah, you can rebuttal them by entering in to Eds “arbitration program”. For a simple fee of 2k dollars, Ed and his group of lackies will review your side of the arguement and if they see fit, they will at least edit the posting. The best thing any business owner who has been wrongfully tangled up in Eds nonsense, report his attorney to the Arizona Bar Association. Maria Speth knows how highly unethical it is to be defending such behavior yet she continues to do so. For those who have been effected by Eds illegal activities, know that in the end, everything he has done is forever branded online. He can run, slither, whine, cry, and weasel his way but fortunately, at some point, he has to answer for all of this. Good luck!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBNQDBJKATKLBHNU2E65QYQ3KQ I Like Turtles

    I may be a bit late, but I also reported a legit scammer to Rip Off Report some years ago and he turned around and wrote several fake reports about me. To this day I have clients bring it up and I have to go into a long explanation how Rip Off Report allows fake reports in retaliation for factual ones. I shouldn’t have to pay to get it removed. The fake report should be removed because there is no data to back it up unlike my original complaint where I included copies of emails.

    I will NEVER use that site again. I posted on it thinking it was an avenue to warn people of scam artists and boy did it back fire on me. How many other innocent parties are on that site? I’m guessing thousands.

  • http://twitter.com/Pink_Jeans Miss Eds

    This site is very useful for me as I work online. I get to check people I can’t trust online. I have searched for this site seconds ago and it won’t load. Why?

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