Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop

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Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop

*Update* New links at the bottom to some really good cases against Rip Off Report

Before You Jump to any conclusions, I am not saying sites that warn consumers of true scams and rip offs are bad, I think they are very very good. I love the Internet because it levels the playing field for small businesses and individuals to compete with big business. Before the Internet that was impossible. However, I do not think that there should be a place in Google’s search results for a company that does nothing to scan or proof read their “User Generated Content” and that also blatantly spams and violates Google’s TOS. This Brings me to the current marriage of Google and Rip Off Report.

I am sure you are all familiar with Rip Off Report, it is by far the largest database of complaints about businesses, individuals and pretty much anything on the planet from religion to government all the way to Racist remarks. Rip Off Report has been accused of all sorts of shady things, racketeering, black mail and rip offs. I am not going to get into the lawsuits against it’s owner Ed Magedsonon or any of the many allegations of what appears to be shady practices. What I am going to get into is how they are being leveraged to manipulate Google’s search results and how Google is fueling their questionable business.

Rip Off Report thrives off of ranking in Google’s search results, I would say that the only reason they are so popular is because of the relationship they have with Google’s search results. According to Compete.com Rip Off Report receives roughly 606,439 referrals from Google’s search results each month. I bet you wish your site got that many referrals from Google each month, in fact I would say most sites on the net don’t. From October 2007 until now (Jan 2008) those referrals have come from 5,761 different search keywords. Again this is according to Compete. I was curious about how Yahoo and Live treat Rip Off Report in their search results. I don’t think that you will find the results surprising as Google can tend to favor and love certain domains where as Yahoo and Live don’t play favorites as often.

I ran a ranking report on the first 89 keywords that Compete said where their top referring search terms. Here are the results you can download the PDF here

rorscreenshot

As you can see Google is definitely treating Rip Off Report different than Yahoo and Live. Live has dropped them from their results all together, so applauds all around for them. Something I found surprising was Yahoo has almost twice as many pages indexed (676k +) as Google, but ranks virtually nothing whereas Google pretty much ranks every single post in its index in the top 20.

Let Me Get to the Meat:

First I’m going to lay out how they are very much violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. For those of you that aren’t familiar with them you can view the page here,

Like I showed above Rip Off Report thrives, and virtually exists only because of Google’s treatment of it. Look at what they say on the home page to encourage posting with them,

“By filing a Ripoff Report it’s almost like creating your own web site
..And, it’s FREE.


Your Ripoff Report will be discovered by millions of consumers! Search engines will automatically discover most reports, meaning that within just a few days or weeks, your report may be found on search engines when consumers search, using key words relating to your Ripoff Report.”

They flat out say, we get your crap indexed and ranked in the top ten in a matter of days. That is music to the ears of a shady employee that just got fired.

1.)Technical Guidelines from Google:

“Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.”

If you search for Rip Off Reports search results pages in Google by doing this site:ripoffreport.com – intitle:”search results” it will bring back only the search results pages that are currently indexed in Google which on my results shows 49,400. That is a lot of pages that shouldn’t be in Google’s index.

If you don’t think this is a big deal read this article from Search Engine Land and the main post from Matt Cutts of Google.

2.)Quality Guidelines – Specific Guidelines Section:

“Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

Subdomains – w3.ripoffreport.com Exact replica of Rip Off Report over 2,000 pages indexed in Google.

Domains – www.badbusinessbureau.com Exact Replica of Rip Off Report over 17,000 pages indexed in Google.

3 Google Cached Links of the same exact post on all 3 domains, there are thousands of cached Duplicates.
1Cached on Jan 11, 2008
2 Cached on Jan 6, 2008
3 Cached on Jan 6, 2008

They are definitely up for Spammers of the Year.

3.) also from Quality Guidelines – Specific Guidelines Section

“Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.”

There was even a recent post attacking us

Check out the title tag,

“97th Floor It Is Better On Top Spy With Firefox 97th Floor social media scam spyware tracked users scam 97th floor firefox social media Internet Internet”

They mention 97th Floor 3 times, Firefox 2 times, scam 2 times, social media 2 times then Internet Internet at the end.

Common sense tells me that isn’t the way Google would like title tags to be written. If I was Matt Cutts and I followed Rip Off Reports logic to title tags, my title tag would be like this compared to the original.

Original Title:
Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

New Title based off of Rip Off Report Style Optimization:

Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Matt Cutts, Google Google and SEO Matt Cutts, Gadgets Internet Internet

Do you think the person that wrote the title for the post about our Social Media for Firefox ext. wanted it to rank in the top ten of Google? It was written on Jan 7, 2008 and indexed and in the top 10 of Google on Jan 8, 2008. Rip Off Report can I hire your spammer seo?

Most of the posts in Rip Off Report are totally stuffed full of keywords both in the Title and the body, it is so blatant it is a joke. This stuff makes BMW Germany look like a saint.

The validity of these posts are what brings me to my last points.

They State on their Homepage,

“While we encourage and even require authors to only file truthful reports, Ripoff Report does not guarantee that all reports are authentic or accurate.”

Doesn’t that contradict itself? I know that it is virtually impossible to guarantee that user generated content can be 100% reliable, but we all know the trouble that sites like Myspace and Facebook get into when things slip through the cracks, why should Rip Off Report be any different. What, they require that they post truth by putting it in the TOS, but never policing or following through. Here is how I know that the post about our Social Media tool is 100% crap or written by a brain dead idiot.

It reads,

“Install 97th floor social media attachment for firefox and get tracked.

Way to go, database user info…Whatever would that before.

Nice way to use your add-on -build your business at others expense.

97th floor claims it was an error. Pretty big oversight. 97th floor catches it after it could be to late for most users who downloaded it. Social media firefox cheaters. Good luck next time.

97th floor ripoff – tried to scam and now caught?

Tmx wpb fl
west palm beach, Florida
U.S.A.”

First of all is that even English? Second here are the facts. There are only 3 sites that posted that I may be trying to spy on people with my new Fire Fox tool. Seo Scoop, Ekstreme, and Sphinn which was a link to the story on Ekstreme. All the stories had updates within 24 hours stating that the bug had been fixed and that I handled it well and that we were in the clear and that it was a super sweet tool. So all of the sudden a post gets added to Rip Off Report on Jan 7th 2008 about 5 months after I released the tool, and it says I am a scammer and all this stuff, but the only places the writer could of gotten the content were from sites saying, “Updated, 97th Floor is in the clear”. So this was a blatant post to damage my companies Rep. and to rank in the top Ten for my name. As he even admits in the first post that we “clam it is an error” and that it was a “big oversight” so he read all the posts saying we fixed it and that it was a mistake, but posted it anyways. I wander if it is because on of our biggest keyword referrals from google to us is “Rip Off Report

Look at the rebuttal which was posted a couple hours after the first post was made,

“Tmx wpb fl
west palm beach, Florida
U.S.A.
97th floor

Upon further review, the social media extension is legitimate. It has been modified and was a true and correct error. Will download again and continue to use.”

The guy says he loves the tool and that he is going to use it again. The time frame is so close to the original post that it makes me think did he post it, wait to get the email that it is live, and then go post the rebuttal, all as an opportunity to make it look real and to have an excuse to use the term, “97th Floor” a couple more times. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page are in Rip Off Report and it is still bed buddies with Google?

Go to Google and type in “Sergey Brin California” you will see around number 8 this post(don’t worry Sergey No Followed that for ya).

Claims that some guys named Sergey Brin and Larry Page where drunk and picking up teenage girls in a coffee shop in California.

“I am sixteen years old and I met Sergey Brin in a coffee shop in Santa Monica. Sergey started talking to me and my friend and told us that he was a big shot in computers or something. He wrote down his first name and cell phone number and asked me to give him a call the next day to go out.

My friend left because she had to go meet her mom. I stayed because I was bored and Sergey bought me a milk shake. He really knows how to talk to a girl. He told me that he can get me in at any concert for free. His friend Larry arrived, and him and Sergey had to go. When I called his cell phone the next day, a message came in: ‘This is Sergey Brin, please leave a message.’ That’s how I knew what his last name is. When he called me back I asked him about the free tickets but he said that he wanted to see me to give them to me in person. I had a bad feeling about it, especially when I spoke to my friend the next day and she said this guy wants something. He is like thirty or even maybe older!

When i talked to him I told him I was sixteen and he said: ‘I don’t kiss and tell. He you want we can meet in a hotel, have a nice time and I’ll bring the free tickets’. ‘ Then he said: ‘Have ever had Vodka?’ I thought I would talk about this guy here because he is way too old to want to go out with me. I am a virgin, I don’t drink, and I am not meeting nobody in a hotel!
Peace-

Meredith
Beverly Hills, California
U.S.A.”

Then there is an update,

“I forgot to say that Sergey Brin was trying to hit on bothe my friend Maria and me at the coffe shop. He is really gross! His friend Larry introduced himself as Larry Page. Sergey Brin really smelled of liquor. BAD!! Larry seemed sober but he kept on looking at my boobs and my friend’s. Then Sergey Brin was asking if they were real, and it made me laugh because he was funny.

I think he was really drunk. At some point he poured something out of a tiny bottle in a paper bag in his cup of coffe. That was after my friend left. He asked me if I wanted some. I didn’t wanna sound like a loser but I said no. I had a bad feeling about the whole thing. Then like I said I talked to him on the phone the next day, but I did not make a date. He called me the next day and a few times after that. Sergey Brin sounded really drunk again! Larry Page sound like the same old pervert, but he didn’t try nothing, because his friend saw me first I think and my friend left.

Anyway he is too old for me that Sergey Brin! He said he drives a really nice car and wanted to take me for a spin but I was afraid of what he’d try to do to me in the car. Thank you for reading this.

Meredith
Beverly Hills, California
U.S.A.”

Then Meredith’s friend Maria Velasquez pipes in (but it was posted by Meredith)
I was there what a creep this Sergey Brin and his friend Larry Page

“My name is Maria Velasquez. That Sergey Brin guy is really creepy. My friend and I was at the coffe shop in Santa Monica and that Sergey Brin Guy and his friend Larry Page wanted to pick us up. I left because I had to meet my mom. I told Larry Page no can do. I think he liked my friend Meredith better because he kept on looking at her boobs. They were trying to impress us because Sergey said that him and Larry Page worked for a big computer company or something. Larry got mad at Sergey when he took a phone call and said Larry’s last name over the phone to someone. He said ‘Page is here with me, you wanna talk to him?’ That’s how we knew the other guy’s last name. Sergey Brin was just too drunk to care anyway. I’m not even seventeen yet and those two are way too old for me or Meri.
I LOVE JLO!”

LOL, “I LOVE JLO”…. You can’t make this crap up.

So to sum up an extremely long post, Rip Off Report is spamming Google’s index, and Google is currently letting them get a way with it. They know this and so do their users and as a result thousands of peoples lives are being ruined due to blatant lies and and made up stories. Again I am a lover of the Internet and as messed up as Rip Off Report maybe there is a place on the internet for lies and junk, that is the beauty of the net we all have a voice. However there is no place for this whatsoever in Google’s search results.

P.S.

All Links to ROR are Happily No Followed

I Love JLO

*Update Rand at SeoMoz is backing us up, and he brought up another TOS violation that ROR is engaging in. Read the post to get the full details but, it looks like ROR is not putting No Follow on Paid links and advertisements.

Also great post by Andy Beal and Distilled

And a new post diving head first into the legal side of ROR by Sarah Bird who is in charge of legal at SEOmoz

Comments

79 Responses to “Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop”

  1. There are plenty of examples of garbage sites that blatantly violate Google Guidelines ranking well on tons of terms in Google. Some of the industries I watch are totally polluted with crap. Sites with enough links can avoid almost any penalty or filter in the Google algorithm. No matter how much they say content is king it is a distant second to links. On top of that Google does not care about quality content, as you point out. Just throw out some garbage content, get some links, and you are on you way to the top of Google.
    The problem is that they are still better than any of the alternatives. Until someone can develop a search engine that can actually identify quality content we are stuck with the current batch of engines.

    • Mark,

      I agree that one of the biggest flaws with Google’s algo is too much domain trust. I understand the concept, but it seems to many sites get away with “muder” while others are slapped for “stealing candy.”

  2. randfish says:

    This is really fascinating stuff, Chris, and I’m impressed by the detail you’ve gone through to find the violations. I’m going to write about this on SEOmoz – and I think there’s plenty to follow up about here, too. The search results for Rip Off Report suggest a pattern of extremely suspicious behavior.

  3. Tom says:

    Nice post Chris. It’s very interesting to see just how big the gap is between Google rankings and the other search engines.

    Google really needs to stop placing so much weight on such a dodgy site, especially since they are profiting from it.

  4. jameszol says:

    I’m glad you wrote this – and happy that Rand picked it up at SEOmoz.

    Small and large businesses lose a ton of money because RoR undoubtedly takes the minority that gets ticked off at a company and shouts their negative story from the rooftops

    While a bad review here and there typically doesn’t hurt too much (and might even help) if you can get it burried or mixed with good reviews – at least you get a good picture of the true satisfaction levels when a small business garners and publishes (without discrimination) customer reviews.

    Not so with RoR. It’s all about accentuating the negative – it could make a very interesting business model case study…especially when it crashes and burns – negativity almost always has a short life span.

  5. Josh Garner says:

    Well, what can I say? I Love JLO.

    Gee golly, I wonder if all that nasty stuff about Sergey and Larry is true.

    Seriously, I know celebrities have been known to make stupid mistakes, but these guys aren’t movie stars. They are likely just baaaaaarely smarter than that. I’m just trying to figure out what the JHole who wrote this would have to gain from it. Maybe Linkbait, but there wouldn’t be anything to gain.

    Oh on another note. I was in a coffee shop this weekend, and some guy tried to pick me up. William…fence? No Gate. Yeah….William Gate. He tried to ‘wow’ me by saying he was some big shot at some computer company. After sniffing white powder (I think it was baby powder, I’m a virgin so I don’t know much about this stuff) he answered his phone. He was talking to some “Steve” guy, and said, “You don’t ‘F’ with William Gate.” That’s how I knew his name.

    I Love Brittney Spears

  6. Thanks for this report! It clarifies a number of complaints that I’ve noted and added many more to what I was aware of. Maybe your report will spur Google to action. I understand that your site is focused on Google and SEO, but my site is all about business ethics and this issue is important from that side, too.

  7. [...] it can have on reputation management campaigns.  He sites an article by Chris Bennett who gives a detailed report on his dealings with the Ripoff Report  Andy ends by asking whether Google should take action against some of their  questionable [...]

  8. Excellent post. I definitely agree that Google gives to much weight to trusted domains, Wikipedia is obviously the worst one for this, but at least there are less reputation issues with it than RoR.

  9. Mark Barrera says:

    Thanks for your great write up. I have dealt with numerous companies who have dealt with this site and the extortion practices of the owner.

    I hope that your coverage can help Google to take some type of action against this site and the damage it is doing to many reputable companies such as your own as well as the damage that is done to the SERPs.

  10. Great post!–
    I recently wrote a similar article refering to online reviews and there validity. The entire web has become infested with (b.s.) reviews and reports. Action by the big 3 is needed asap. I have many clients trying to fight off #1 SERP bad reviews that have come from competitors or companies like ripoff report.If you know of any ways or techniques to thwart this please email me at mike AT higherimages.com. I am seeking true help for this epidemic.

  11. [...] here it is, the topic I have so coveted Online Reviews. I can credit a great article by 97th Floor :Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop, for the [...]

  12. [...] entrada no “97th floor”, Chris Bennet denuncia a rip off report, um site que alegadamente dá voz a cidadãos descontentes com empresas e os seus concidadãos (via [...]

  13. [...] » Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop First I’m going to lay out how they are very much violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. For those of you that aren’t familiar with them you can view the page here, (tags: blog Google Management Reputation SEO spam) [...]

  14. I agree, it is a rather obvious contradiction indeed (interlinking of URL’s, duplicate content, etc.) The Rip Off Report’s site is clearly outside the search engine guidelines there.

    Despite the fact that the mishap with the plug in occurred, a lie is never true. I’m sorry to hear that your reputation is being compromised by a dose of bad press.

    It’s unfortunate that such a medium (that was designed with good intentions) has been exploited by disgruntled types who use it for reputation management smear campaigns & negative SEO.

    • Seo Design Solutions,

      It is definitely lame that someone posted something that is absolutely false about our company, but the reason for this post is to show the unfair positive treatment Google gives ROR, and the shady seo violations that ROR is blatantly doing to spam Google’s index.

      I’m not worried about a comment that looks like it was outsourced to someone that barely knows the English language.

  15. Underarock says:

    Nice article. Spend some time looking at the depositions in Federal court and you see clearly that ROR feeds information to other sources so that information can be fed back to ROR with the claim that Ed did not make the post him self. The same depositions will show that there were some untruths told.

    You will also see that ROR attorneys claim moneys paid to the Corporate Advocacy Program are earned for the investigations that ROR has to conduct in spite of state statutes that bar charging money for investigations unless one is licensed to conduct investigations. That statute has criminal penalties. The statute is designed to protect clients from incompetent or greedy “investigators” that can not, will not deliver a good product.

    Anyone that brings things like this to the public’s attention gets much distorted information spread about the world as you have seen first hand.

  16. [...] Bennett knows more about the problems with ripoffreport than almost [...]

  17. I’ve heard of cases where companies have paid upwards to $10k to pull claims off of Rip Off Report. What a crime.

  18. Cheryl Roberts says:

    Lets educated your readers and confirms some facts so all our crystal clear. For those readers that do not think Google and Rip Off Report are bed partners you need to realize that they are and this is factual.

    We are a company that has 1 fraudulent rip off report made up by Ed himself. It was indexed on page 2, 29th position UNTIL we filed a notice of Copyright Infringement with Google demanding they remove the Rip Off Report about us from their browser. Within 4 hours time after they acknowledged receipt of the Infringement notice, the Rip Off Report moved up to the NO. 1 position on page 1 under our business name key word search. This occurred within 6 hours time. Google also deleted our 2 web sites indexed which held the no 1 and no 2 spots on the first page which allowed Rip Off Report to move into the 1st position. THIS HAPPENED WITHIN 6 HOURS TIME after Google received our demand for removal letter.

    We have written our Congressman and US Senator as well as notifying 141 Newspapers and News Channels of what occurred because this is just plain wrong, dirty, immoral and criminal.

    • Peter Johnson says:

      I am commenting anonymously because we also confirm that what Cheryl says is true. GOOGLE AND ROR ARE BEDFELLOWS.

      We have been fighting to push down ROR for awhile. The typical technique involves creating positive pages at different domains; microsites, social networking sites, etc. and driving links to them to push ROR down.

      We were undertaking the strategy quite nicely; until, we did a little research like Chris has done and saw all the SEO violations ROR is using -basically spamming the index. Well, we figured Google would want to know about the violations so we submitted to Google’s spam reporting tool. Our BIG mistake was that we did it from our Google webmaster account. Ever since then, Google given ROR so much power for our brand keywords it’s unbelievable. They are on the 1st page in spite of the fact that they are not in the top 100 for MSN, Yahoo or Ask. The ROR listing outranks other pages containing higher keyword density for our brand and higher pagerank. We contacted google’s legal department as well to no avail. Everyone — please we have to do something about this — many very good companies are getting hurt here.

      Here’s what I propose –

      1. start a campaign to get as many people as possible to submit to the google spam report — it can’t come from companies that are being effected, but needs to come from SEO savvy people who care about the internet. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en

      2. contact as many large companies as possible, many of whom aren’t even aware of the damage to their reputation by ROR & Google. To get a list, go to ROR homepage and look at the list at the bottom. Some major companies, like ADT Security (owned by multibillion$$ Tyco have Google page 1 listings: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=adt+security&btnG=Search)

      3. let’s get as many stories as possible of the favorable treatment of ROR by Google. If in fact Google does give ROR blantantly favorable treatment, Google is no longer acting as a non-biased tool, but they are in fact taking EDITORIAL LICENSE. If that’s the case, the lose their legal protection. Google could be liable for damages, just as if the NY Times prints libelous or slanderous information. These cases have never worked against Google because of the fact they maintain an algorithmic set of rules that applies to everyone, but if their rules are waived for sites they favor for reasons outside fo the algorithm, all of a sudden that’s editorial. Look at this lawsuit:

      http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2007/04/google_sued_for_2.htm

      A large homebuilder, RSA enterprises names ROR and Google in a lawsuit. {http://www.rsahomes.com/}

      As Mr. Goldman points out, Google is unquestionably covered by 47 USC 230 for this content, and there is no way the plaintiff can get around the statutory immunization BUT…
      USC230 doesn’t apply if it’s proven Google has used editorial license!

      If a suit like this was even heard by a judge, it would be massively damaging to Google because it could be possible that they would have to reveal their secret algorithm in discovery. How cool would that be? I’ve personally been hoping that an open source alternative to Google would gain some traction like Nutch: http://lucene.apache.org/nutch/ (but that’s another story; search should be open)

      Either way, we can defeat ROR if we work together. Follow 1-2-3 above and get as many people on board as possible.

      ~Peter

      • Cheryl Roberts says:

        Heres what blows our minds, Google, being the monster company they are, is associating with Ed Magedson WHY WHY WHY?? Its like OJ Simpson representing Pepsi. Why would Google want this association but they seem to want it. Also, WHY is there not one listing on Rip Off Report about GOOGLE? Come on, Google is a monster and we all know its not possible that one client, customer would have a complaint about GOOGLE but its true, not one ROR Complaint listed.

        AND heres the frosting on the cake, if you search on the google browser for Ed Magedson or Rip Off Report, you will see Google is removing negative postings about Ed and Rip Off Report which is clearly noted at the bottom of the pages “removed under digitial millenium act” several times about Ed. Now GOOGLE does not remove anything and its when Pigs Fly to they yield and remove something. Also GOOGLE tells us “you have to wait until the next crawl cycle to get anything removed, we cant remove anything either” Well this is a lie. Google intentionally removed our indexed web pages which held the no 1 and no 2 spots for 4 months straight. Once google received our complaint and demand for removal of ROR within 6 hours they removed our two indexed web sites and pushed the ROR posting into the No 1 position in their place

  19. amberto says:

    I am so happy that you guys are talking about this. Our company was recently victimized by ROR and we too have been trying (to no avail) to get the report removed. My favorite part about this scam is that even the author cannot remove a post. I guess your words become the property of ROR once you put them on their site.

  20. Peter Johnson says:

    Here is a posting about Google. Let’s drive as many links to it as possible. Notice that the title is keyword stuffed. Here’s another idea — the secret to getting Rip Off Reports to rank higher is to have the company name listed in the long list at the bottom of ROR. A link there will drive listings up.

    If any of you feel you’ve been wronged by Google, which it sounds like you have, put a negative posting on ROR under the name “Google Adwords”. Google Adwords is their cash cow. It’s where they get all their money. Be sure to put Google Adwords in your title. Once there are 5 listings live on ROR, submit Google adwords to editor@ripoffreport.com, requesting that “Google Adwords” be added to the list on the ROR homepage. Then we’ll see if Google is full of it or not because that link should drive a page 1 listing for ror under the keyword Google Adwords. Be sure to also put popular phrases in your titles like “Google Advertising”. Now of course, I’m only advocating this for those of you who have actually had business problems with Google Adwords. For example, have you ever tried to get customer service from them and not been able to. According to ROR, that make them a rip off. You get my point. Let’s expose this sham for what it is — a way to force companies to spend more on adwords to counteract the negative publicity of ROR. To answer your question, Cheryl, that’s why Google so heavily favors negative publicity. Because then companies have to spend more money advertising their own brand name.

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/265/RipOff0265422.htm

  21. Cheryl Roberts says:

    Well our sister in law is a producer for MSNBC and we have been promised an hour episode on the Google Rip Off Report connection as well as focusing on what Google did to us and of course Ed Magedson and Rip Off Report scams. Google is not going to like this News Report at all particuarly being an hour episode so stay tuned

  22. Cheryl and Peter Thanks for your comments, this is really interesting and compelling stuff. I am surprised we haven’t heard anything from Google at least on SEOmoz’s blog where they have commented on things before.

    Cheryl please keep us posted on that episode with MSNBC, I would love to have a heads up to tell our readers and the SEO community about it.

    If MSNBC needs an SEO to interview saying that Rip Off Report is spamming Google you know who to call :)

  23. Cheryl Roberts says:

    We have a meeting with a State Senator on Friday and US Senator on Wednesday next week on these matters. We are so glad they agreed to meet with us. AND, both Senators were aware of Ed Magedson and Rip Off Report as well as allegations concerning Google associations with Rip Off Report. We will get this out there and shame Google for their behavior

  24. [...] getting some serious push-back from people in the reputation management / SEO industry (Rand, Chris, [...]

  25. A friend says:

    Hey, Chris. You’re not the only SEO with a page 1 listing on google for ROR. Seems ROR trumps all you SEOs (or maybe Google’s just totally off their rocker) They really NEED to wakeup.

    There is something wrong when anyone can anonymously create a posting about someone and get it on page 1 in Google within a day. If ROR were called Fair Forum or something that would be one thing, but the very title of the site automatically presumes rip off, so the listing itself is enough to create FUD – fear, uncertainly and doubt in the minds of potential customers. WAKE UP SEO COMMUNITY! There is NO good side to ROR.

    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=t&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GFRC_en___US210&q=John+andrews+seo

    • That Sucks John Andrews got mentioned, I am a big fan of his blog, and he is definitely legit.

      That post is so ridiculous too, it has nothing to do with him being a rip off it is a blatant attempt to spam Google.

  26. Cheryl Roberts says:

    Will someone educate us on a matter concerning Ed Magedson, Rip Off Report. How does Ed and Rip Off Report keep the hundreds if not thousands of negative reports about them off of Google? If you type in Key Word Rip Off Report they are virtually clean with a few exceptions? Now, if Ed and Rip Off Report did not author all the hundreds of complaints against them HOW DO THEY GET ALL THE COMPLAINTS REMOVED FROM THE GOOGLE BROWSER?? Because your not suppose to be able to remove a written complaint if you are not the author of the complaint? Why are they the exception and who is assisting them in keeping Rip Off Report key word search free of what must amount to thousands of complaints agaisnt rip off report? No one else can seem to do this so why are they getting away with this? Our guess is Google must be working hand in hand with Ed and Rip Off Report to reduce and remove a great percentage of complaints written about Ed and ROR from being seen in Google browser under keyword searches?

  27. [...] Chris/97th Floor: Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop [...]

  28. Darryl G says:

    Google’s goodie-two-shoes image is starting to crumble fast. No one stays at the top forever. Once their image begins to curmble, they keep missing financial projections as last time, and the typical situation where “their success gets in their own way” will being happen.

    Google is digging it’s own grave by cozying up with the scam operation Rip Off Report.

  29. jimm says:

    I Downloaded the entire Ripoffreport website in both 2006 and 2007 and the report about Larry Page and Sergey brin was not there.

    This is a typical tactic of Ed Magedson. I submit he wrote the report in an effort to gain some leverage against google in the event they ban him.

    Which everyone hopes they will.

  30. Bob Kirchman says:

    It’s ironic, really, how my company Kirchman Associates ended up getting slammed on this website.

    Four years ago we were facing extortion attempts by those phoney phone directories who would call and tell you that you already were signed up for a recurring charge of always just under $400, but if you payed them once they were back like a bad penny wanting their next installment. I fought back, and as a result some of them put up some
    pretty outrageous charges about me.

    My existing clients know how ridiculous the claims are. The same poster seems to have posed as two “victims” and carries on a rather lame comment lovefest session. My regular clients know that “only telemarketers call me Robert” but it is a bit of a pain to explain this nonsense to new clients or prospects who may have Googled me. How did they get a picture of me? They downloaded it from my own website! Pretty dangerous looking fellow, huh?

    Having been in business for 23 years helps, but it would be really nice to see this whole affair put to rest. I contacted the ROR and explained that this was not only false, but malicious information. I was told that I could write a rebuttal! I appreciate what you are doing to help small companies like mine.

    Many Thanks!

  31. brian says:

    Ok, I am in the same boat as you all. I created a free carpooling website and bought a domain for it, not knowing that the previous domain owner had 2 ripoff reports in it. It is hard to rip someone off when your service is free. I then decided that I could replace the results with positive results so I spent 3 months filling up my results with good stuff pushing the ripoff report to the 3rd page. Then I decide to go to the webmaster report tool and submit it as spam. Now, the ROR is SECOND for my search results. This is so not fair. What can I do?? Does paying ROR get the page off of the net?

  32. Bob Kirchman says:

    Brian,

    I have never tried to pay the ‘Corporate Advocacy Program.’ I am not sure I have a great deal of trust where someone won’t simply take down posts that are clearly false, malicious, and or irrelevant.

    I do think Will Critchlow’s Campaign to Get ROR Out of the SERPS has a better chance of solving the problem. Your service is free and primarily marketed to a very local audience so a little positive PR from you should be more than enough to deflect ROR damage.

    As you say: ” It is hard to rip someone off when your service is free.

  33. Bob says:

    I won’t say anything about my company (because clearly google is against any company that speaks out against ror). I will say that submitting a Spam report about ROR through the Google webmaster program caused ROR to rank on page 1 for our site too and it’s impossible to remove. This in spite of the fact that there are dozens of sites ranked lower than ror with our brand in the title tag and higher PR than the ror listings. If google is using spam reports through the webmaster program to boost ror listings, they are violating the FTCs guidelines for ‘clear and conspicuous’ disclosures. Their spam reporting form gives no indication whatsoever that reporting a link could actually lead google to conclude that the reported link deserves a higher ranking, but that appears to be what’s going on. Google is concluding that if a company reports an ror listing then that company is trying to manipulate the index, so they’ll actually boost the ror listing. If that is google’s intent, then they are obligated by guidelines set by the ftc to say something to the effect of ‘we discourage companies from reporting negative press to this spam index because it may result in the negative press receiving a higher quality score in the google index’. They are actually suckering webmasters into hurting their own results with their coy “We appreciate your taking the time to help us improve our service for your fellow users around the world. By helping us eliminate spam, you’re saving millions of people time, effort and energy.”

    Never mind the fact that Chris has proven that ror is spamming the index. If ror wasn’t spamming, google might have a leg to stand on, but since ror is spamming, webmaster’s are being totally lied to when they submit spam reports only to see google boost the rankings of the listing that are submitted.

    Here’s a totally different angle for a legal mind — since Google doesn’t disclose the real use of the spam reports, would it be possible to say that the report itself is the intellectual property of the person who submits the report? Since the person doing the reporting has done the research, it is in fact the reporter’s intellectual property. They are giving Google permission to use it for 1 reason and google is using it for a completely contrary reason. Therefore Google does not maintain protection under 47 USC 230 — http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/230.html, because IP claims are exempt. Google has liability for the damages that result from their misuse of the webmaster’s own intellectual property.

    Look bottom line is ror cannot be touched directly. Legal channels are a waist of time. They’ve already been ordered to pay millions and they won’t pay and just hide. If someone ever find Ed, he’ll just file bankruptcy and reincorporate. There are no assets there to grab. ISPs have shut them down and they’ve just gone offshore. THE ONLY angle here is to get Google to do the right thing and follow Microsoft and Yahoo’s lead. In spite of the ‘do no evil’ crap, Google will act in their own self interest and if they feel they are violating an FTC rule or their 47 USC 230 protection is in jeopardy. Only then will their little love affair with ror will come to an end. Of course, enough pressure at conferences might make shame them into action. Bravo SEO community. Keep the pressure on!

  34. Bob Kirchman says:

    The old Journalist’s Code of Ethics might be a good model for Google to apply when handling sites like Rip Off Report. Yahoo and MSN have already shown us how to self-govern their own search engines.

    The SEO community should indeed keep the pressure on and spotlight practices such as Index Spamming that should be addressed directly.

  35. Chery Roberts says:

    Do not trust Google, its well established that if you complain to Google abuse or Google legal about ROR, you will notice immediate punishment in the form or a premier listing of the ROR posting. Its our belief that google abuse dept is constructed of young adults as they do not appear to be mature seasoned adults. I do not think they look forward to the liability their actions can cause their employer (Google) by playing games with companies that write to them about google abuse

    Googles reputation is really suffering and its going to harm their bottom line for sure

  36. Bob Kirchman says:

    Cheryl,

    I think it will take no less than someone like Sarah Bird, Esquire to get through to Google. If a RICO suit against Rip Off Report is successful, it would not look good for a search engine to be giving them preferential treatment, would it?

    “Don’t Be Evil”

  37. Chery Roberts says:

    FYI for your readers, we have a fake company we posted in limited publications just to trap ROR and it worked. This company does not exist and was used as “bait only” to reel in Ed Magedson and ROR and guess what IT WORKED! We have a posting with a complaint! Now isnt that something? Proof poz that ROR and Ed Magedson are the worst and yet Google runs them and promotes them.

  38. Bob Kirchman says:

    Cheryl,

    That is amazing! Of course, not THAT surprising when you consider who we’re dealing with. Do you think complaints to the FTC would be effective?

  39. Fred says:

    Hey, Chris. Please share with the rest of us how you got your ror removed from the google index?

    check out info:www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/297/RipOff0297911.htm
    in google

    isn’t this listing the one that originally inspired this crusade and now it’s gone from the google index.

    I doubt Google did that, but maybe I’m wrong. More likely Ed did it to get the SEO community to back off. I notice that Chris isn’t pushing the ROR stuff much anymore. Could that be because he got what he wants and now the rest of us can just fend for ourselves?

    that’s no accident. anyone have any theories on why that is?

  40. Mr. Nezzer says:

    Thought all you SEOs would like to know that you’re terrorists:

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/03/rip-off-report.html

    I think you guys are afraid, personally because since the ROR lawsuit threats:

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/ripoff-report-responds-you-be-the-judge

    you’ve totally backed off.

    Didn’t know the SEO community would give up so easily.

    Or Maybe it wasn’t Ed. Maybe Matt Cutts told you your whole thing was a sham and SMX West and you just don’t want to admit it?

  41. Fred and Mr. Nezzer,

    I am so busy, you will see I have only posted a couple times since this post. This is an extremely busy time for us. This post has been read by thousands of people and there is not much more I can do. It is in the hands of Google. I am assuming they know about the post as it was all over the place.

  42. Fred,

    Also we did not do anything to the post, I have not talked to anyone at ROR, I have seen a lot of posts get de-indexed when there is only one post.

    As far as not pushing ROR stuff anymore I have only done 3 posts in the entire history of this blog I have never made it a habit to talk about ROR. It is actually the contrary.

  43. Cheryl Roberts says:

    ANYONE, and I mean anyone that believes anything Ed or ROR says or promotes needs serious couch time in a Phyciatrists office. ROR is nothing but an extortion scheme run by a group of folks that are former carnival operators by trade. The problem with ED and ROR is they are not very smart and easy to trip up and catch. We posted a fake company to trap Ed and ROR and had an office pool going for the time period it would take Ed and ROR to write a complaint to post about our fake company. The Pool was up to $400 and one of our staff members guessed two weeks and won the money.

  44. ROR is Just Wrong says:

    Chris

    Google does not seem to listen to us. We are the same people that create webpages and put adsense on our pages, we are the people that love google and this is how we are treated.

    Chris I think that what we are all saying is that we want to know what we can do next to help get rid of rip off report. You have created a blogpost that thousands have read and thousands are looking for you to tell us what to do next. We are only good if we create action as a group.

    You do great work keep it up.

    I hope everyone has send in their responses to the below link. This has been the media outlet we are all looking for.

    Send them everything: links, emails, blog posts.

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/03/rip-off-report.html

  45. Jeff Jones says:

    Wanna bet that Ed has emailed the crockpots in his database to get them to post on this link:

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/03/rip-off-report.html

    NO WAY normal wired readers are this favorable to ROR (or even care that much) and NO Way that many would post so quickly.

    Either that or Ed’s posting them himself.

    PLEASE, PLEASE get the focus back on GOOGLE and off of ROR. That’s a total distraction. The focus needs to be on GOOGLE to treat ROR like any other site and NOT like the second coming with greater trust than WIKIpedia. The google anti-spam team is taking editorial license with the abnormal trust ranking which exposes GOOGLE to liability!

    There will always be small-time criminals, but when reputable business assists them, there’s a problem. Focus on Google and their use of editorial to ARTIFICIALLY (beyond the normal algorithm) boost ROR.

    Kind of like when the Police help the Mob…

  46. Sheila Talbert says:

    Google is protecting ROR & Ed Magedson without a doubt. We have worked to prove our belief. We have posted over 88 negative reports about ROR and stuffed it with keywords and NOT 1 Posting shows up on ROR in Google. 88 Negative Reports and not 1 shows up on Google. Now, it doesnt take a genius to realize what is going on. Google is filtering out negative reports agaisnt ROR. We cant believe this. Google works with ROR and protects them and this is proof poz.

  47. Jenna says:

    If you’re a Google shareholder, tell them that you don’t appreciate the undue risks they’re taking with your money by unnecessarily exposing the company to liability.

    Tell Google to give ROR a normal trust ranking like everybody else, not an artificially high ranking. ROR is NOT WIKIpedia! It’s at the least a biased source of information and at the worst a criminal extortion enterprise.

    Tell Google to Stop Doing Evil.

    Google Inc.
    1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    United States – Map
    Phone: 650-253-0000

    Here’s Google’s investor relations contact:

    http://www.google.com/support/investors/?contact_type=other&submit=Continue

  48. Marty says:

    Heads Up Chris

    Ed is trying to push your top spot listing under keyword search ROR down with bs postings to lower position. Slam this thief Chris and keep it up in top position for all to see.

    That thing you see floating in your toilet, thats Ed and its time to flush the toilet

  49. Murray Peterson says:

    Hey, Everybody. Check out Seth Godin’s post over on Wired. Really good stuff there. We should make sure to send this on to Matt Cutts and others at Google. Chris, I’d love your comment.

    http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/03/rip-off-report.html#comment-108738858

  50. Robert C. says:

    When is the show?

  51. Charlene says:

    We are one business that is fed up with Google and allowing a criminal group (ROR) to prey on consumers. Google must stop allowing ROR to spam and spam and spam. This is not right. No other group is allowed this and receives such a high trust ranking. We are putting together a group of businesses that has fallen victim to fraudulent postings from ROR and carried on Google

    We are preparing a large scale protest at Google locations and invite the media to take note of these protests. This has to end and end now. If your fed up with Google allowing this to continue join our cause and assist with this protest being planned.

  52. RankRover says:

    What is rediculous is that Ed Magedson has been removing the last comment I made on my ripoffreport and placing it back after google refreshes the listing. I buried this ripoffreport through reputation management a couple times, and when Ed notices what I have done, he refreshes the listing to make it look like something is new.

    My ex-partner in a business venture wrote a fake report against my company saying I was a spammer, and ad bomber. He also attacked me because I post a couple web design and seo ads on Craigslist every now and then.

  53. Fred Williams says:

    I have seen the same thing as RankRover. Anytime our ror listings in Google start to drop, Ed will change the title and refresh the listings. In changing the title, he’s also changing the title tags, fooling Google into thinking its new content. Very spammy. Chris, do you have any insight into Google’s side of this argument? I can’t for the life of me figure out why they don’t slap ROR for the spamming.

  54. Tony Roscoe says:

    Chris

    Ed is pushing your honeymoon with google listing down to the bottom of the 1st page. Keep it at the top as it needs to be seen and Mr. Slime ball is trying to push it back

  55. Debbie says:

    I found this blog through a search. I, for the life of me, could not understand why ROR reports kept showing up at the top. As a result, I did a GOOGLE search and came up with this site.

    Anyway, to businesses worried about RORs, most people at this point know that most of the reports on ROR are fake. I, myself, had a FAKE report posted about me on ROR. When the person came back and admitted it was fake, the report was allowed to stay. From that point on, I knew that the site couldn’t be trusted.

    I used to refer and use ROR as a research site for legal complaints and general consumer complaints. Now, I advise against ROR and only recommend Amazon.com and Epinions.com.

    I know nothing can be done about ROR, other than discourage people way from the site, but I still have disappointment.

    5 years ago I gave to the site because they claimed they were a consumer advocacy site; that clearly is a lie to get money to operate the site and slander people. I also am disappointed in GOOGLE for their decision to spotlight the lies told on ROR.

    Now, I have noticed that businesses are advertising on ROR. I definitely would not buy anything from a business that supports a site like ROR.

    • Tina Bradbury says:

      The company I have been employed at for 12 years had an ex-employee who broke into my employers home and robbed them for over $6000 worth of items. The owner pressed charges and in doing so the ex-employee threatened to post on ROR if the charges were not dropped. The company refused to be blackmailed and have been paying for it since 2005.

      The owners faxed to Ed the Police Theft Report to prove the intent of the poster and he asked for $5000 to remove it. Yet, another case of blackmail!!

      My empolyer has suffered through this slander and has spent $20,000 trying to fight it. They lost the fight and opened up under another name. Why does Google allow companies like this to be harrassed, put out of business and loose money? My employee could have easily posted the theives name on ROR but choose not to do this.

      What can be done to remove these postings? Can anyone help?

  56. andrew says:

    If you were a victim like i was we need to show GOOGLE how easy it is to slander. Please write fake posts about google founders execs and there wives. This will have to make them think about how this could effect people and maybe then take it off thier search results.

    • Andrew,

      I am not cool with anyone writing anything false about anyone online. Why stoop to the same level as those that exploit ROR? I know it is super frustrating, and not fair to you, but the Google execs may not know about this at all, and it could be engineers that are aware. Regardless of who is aware writing false articles about someone else is not something I would recommend. In the long run I think you would regret it, and you would be exactly the same as those leveraging ROR.

    • Debbie says:

      Andrew,

      ROR is not legally liable but YOU as the poster are liable. If you post a malicious lie about someone, they could sue you. Most people aren’t suing the people because there is still no guarantee that the report will be removed if you prevail in the lawsuit against the person. The court has jurisdiction over the complainor, not necessarily ROR.

  57. [...] because we handle reputation management for our clients. See a thread at 97th floor about it at ? Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop My argument is very much solid. On top of the facts stated I also have screenshots of reports that [...]

  58. [...] Null. Please check Googles technical guidelines for the following information posted at ? Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop : 1.)Technical Guidelines from Google: “Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search [...]

  59. asdf says:

    And while you are at it, report Encyclopediadramatica.com for defamation. It’s not a satire website as they call it themselves.

  60. Coward says:

    The names have been changed! – All References to the name “Sergey Brin” have been changed to “Soney Bonoi”

  61. Get Page One says:

    OMG…I love JLO too! Just wanted to point out that even with the name changed to Soney Bonoi, ROR has now been elevated to #1 for that Google query. Looks like it just keeps getting worse. Just how much love is Google gonna’ give those guys? Also, is changing the name within the post even LEGAL? I think editing the name admits knowing the report is malicious, but they leave it up because it ranks well. Even if Google isn’t ticked, Sergey should be.

  62. Isaac says:

    Freedom van lines is a victim of this web site. We have 500 customers a month,few have complaints.
    We are very sorry about that and we would like to give a refund to all of them

  63. Emma says:

    Isn’t Google’s model statement “Don’t Be Evil?” If that’s the case, how can they continually justify being in a partnership with someone like Ed Magedson and ROR?

  64. [...] example, Chris Bennet of 97th floor produced a well written article called Google, Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report Has to Stop. Through the detailed research a pattern of egregious activity can be seen. The research breaks [...]

  65. [...] I am posting this petition below, but first I encourage you to do your own research. Do a search on Google you will find a ton of information on Ripoffreport.com and their unfair practices. Have a look here this is a really good posting. 97thfloor.com [...]

  66. [...] Public Spam Report: Google Your Honeymoon with Rip Off Report has to Stop [...]

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