Does Google Now See Reputation Management Like Paid Links?

Has Google changed its opinion on reputation management? Are they starting to downplay the work done by companies trying to get rid of listings that wrongly accuse people and businesses?

The funny thing about it is, I would understand if their actions were motivated by a perception that reputation management is an extension of paid links. But then they would need to start dropping sites like Ripoff Report, given their consumer advocacy/extortion demands for payment to counter competitor lies and inaccuracies. After all, they’re even more a paid system, just in a negative sense.

I’ve seen an instance, over last weekend, where Ripoff Reports went from ranking seventh to first for an individual’s name. Higher ranked than LinkedIn? I wonder if it’s a personal action following my article two weeks ago, but that would mean someone went in and overrode the algorithm.

Could Google be that petty? Or have they just changed the algorithm?

Has there been a change, and Google is now weighting page views? Did they raise the ranking because for the person’s name the most visited page has been the Ripoff site? In that case, can it be countered by just making sure people click on the other pages more?

I’m told Google hasn’t seen any increase in traffic to Ripoff, so maybe Ripoff is making a countermove. Did they see I had joined some of the social media sites ranking for the person falsely accused of being Russian mafia and pushed some of their internal links to the page?

If that’s the case, then they may be guilty of actions that would counter the CDA laws. Interestingly, Yahoo and Google don’t list any inbound links to the page, so how did it jump in the rankings?

But someone has done something, and whoever it is may find themselves on the wrong side of the CDA, especially given the pure lack of truth in the statement. My recommendation at this stage may be to consult a lawyer. The fun part will be finding a judge and jury that really understand how search engines and rankings work and how a site can manipulate things without editing the content, just by adding links from other pages to a page.

Add this to the antitrust action heading Google’s way for its book listings. Maybe they can get help from the analytics companies Google put out of business. I’m sure a bunch of those people would be very happy to help map it all out for the government.

Chris Boggs Fires Back

Haha, Frank, I seriously doubt Google made any updates to their algorithm simply to mess with you, but let me try on your tinfoil hat when I see you next in NYC.

Without knowing who the person is, it’s likely that the report of that person’s name got some buzz around it in the form of links and/or social media mentions, which in turn fit the recent algorithm updates nicely. The links may not be reported yet via Yahoo Site Explorer and it’s even less likely that they would show up yet within Google.

It appears you’re waging a crusade against Ripoff Report, but frankly I still don’t feel that compelled to join you at this juncture. Just to check, I did a search for “boggs rip off report” and it seems that so far I’m immune to this problem.

What about all the “real” cases in Ripoff Report? If someone is doing due diligence on an individual/company, and finds negative data from Ripoff in a search results, hopefully they will look for additional negative content rather than simply believing one thing.

If someone has a negative review in Ripoff, it’s up to them to self-reputation manage, n’est-ce-pas? I wouldn’t draw attention to it, but at the same time if you’re going to do business with someone you should probably put all your cards on the table if you have nothing to hide, and preemptively address the content.

Related reading

youtube and child safety: is the service doing enough?
Google / YouTube and brand safety: What's next?
lessons learned from launching 100+ campaigns
Amazon Advertising, Prime Pantry