Article by Pierre Zarokian.
Last week I wrote an article for Search Engine Journal that Ripoff Report & More Complaint Websites See Huge Ranking Drops.
I wanted to provide a quick summary and in case you are interested to read the full article, then follow the above link.
It appears that on or around November 6th several complaint reporting websites including Ripoff Report, Pissed Consumer and Complaints Board got hit with some kind of Google penalty, either manually or as a result of an update that affected only these types of websites.
It would be hard to tell the exact cause, unless Google disclosed it, but more likely Google did a tweak to their algorithm to specifically target these types of sites.
It is likely that Google gets too many complaints from people listed on these sites or that also legally it costs Google so much money to try and fight lawsuits from people listed on these sites that want removal. Even though the law does not allow to sue these sites and Google for 3rd party posted content, people still sue these sites and Google.
In addition, sometimes the people that have been posted sue the poster and get court orders to get these removed. It still cost Google lot’s of money in attorney time to view these requests to approve or deny.
Many of these complaint websites also charge money for removals or for suppressing the info. For example, Ripoff Report has a non-removal policy but for a fee would let you to respond to the allegations and provide your side of the story. They apparently would do some kind of investigation to make sure the post is false. In the past, I have had several client’s tell me that they would never pay for their program because they think is extortion. In addition, the fact that the post does not get removed and still ranks in Google is a major reason why many people decide not to pay these fees and instead hire reputation management companies.
I think that Google has looked at the big picture and decided it is enough and that sites like these are running for-profit businesses and profiting from many innocent people that have been accused falsely. Surely there are also many scammers listed on these types of sites, but because these sites allow anonymous posts and charge high fees for removal/suppression services, many consider them to be taking advantage of the system. Even though technically it is not extortion, it does seem like it is.
I, for one, am very glad that Google has done something about it and many of my clients were ecstatic to find out this news.