Written by Pierre Zarokian
We stumbled across something quite amazing this morning: RipOffReport appeared to have been completely de-indexed by Google for several hours. We can confirm that at 11 AM pacific standard time, performing a search for “site:ripoffreport.com” or the Ripoff Report brand name returned no results. Although the site has since shown up in Google’s index, it’s interesting that the outage lasted as long as it did.
Another intriguing aspect of this story is that Google was listing a legal request from ChillingEffects.org on its search page. It’s possible that there was some kind of copyright infringement claim made against the company. It’s not immediately clear as to what the nature of that claim could be, but people try to sue the website all the time.
Was Ripoff Report caught doing something Google didn’t like? And if that’s true, what did Ripoff Report do to get back in Google’s good graces? At this point, the answer is unclear. It’s entirely possible that the site was de-indexed as a result of any one of a number of technical errors on the part of the webmaster. How many SEOs routinely deal with a problematic robots.txt file?
Why the website disappeared, and why it has remained de-indexed for couple of hours remains a mystery. I can speak from experience that a problem like this isn’t something a webmaster wants to put off for very long, so it’s likely Ripoff Report was doing everything in its power to get its listings back on Google, which would also explain why the company had no comment on the incident.
This brings back memories of an incident that took place in 2011. Some tech at Ripoff Report accidentally got Ripoffreport.com deindexed from Google using Google webmaster account. Google recognized that this was a potential mistake and reached out to Ripoff Report in order to confirm the problem. It was an important lesson for all of us on delegating ownership to our accounts.
Is this situation similar, or even the same? It’s hard to say at this point. We have no access to legal documents, and the de-indexing only lasted for a few hours. We have every reason to believe the removal was most likely caused by a technical problem with Ripoff Report’s backend.