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Google Ranks the Word ‘Scam’ High in SEO and Loses Lawsuit

If you’ve ever done any online reputation management (clearing the first page of a Google search for any negative listings for an individual or corporation), you’ve surely noticed that the Google algorithm artificially boosts words like scam, criminal, prison, jail and many negative words unfairly. Not only do they push words that promote slander in their organic search, but it’s just as easy to see this synthetic promotion in their Google Instant Autosuggest feature where a drop down list of possible keyword searches are promoted to you as if they are trying to read your mind.

The fact that Google pushes defamatory words is so obvious that a company in France won a lawsuit against Google for unfairly catapulting the French word for scam (arnaque) to the top of a Google Suggest search for their company name.  In an article at they open with this:

“A Paris court of appeal has ruled against Google in a defamation case lodged by the Centre National Privé de Formation a Distance (CNFDI) in a suit which claimed the search engine’s ‘Suggest’ feature linked the organisation to the word ‘scam’.

The Mountain View giant has been ordered to take necessary measures to remove this suggestion from its search functions, according to French legal site”

Given time, I could illustrate thousands of examples, but I wouldn’t do so because it would only perpetuate the evil practice against good businesses. I will share one because the company has been a punching bag for ridicule, yet has continued to thrive for over 50 years.  I refer to the Amway corporation. Personally, I think Amway has a lawsuit against Google just waiting to happen.

As of 5/28/2011, as one types into the Google search bar, the instant Google Autosuggest feature catapults the keyword phrase, “Amway Scam” in third place before you’ve even finished typing the word:  Amway. Yet their own Keyword Tool says that searches for these keywords have many more searches per month (all created with a broad match search for the keyword, “Amway”):

  • Amway                              ( 1,830,000)  Monthly Broadmatch Searches for ‘Amway’
  • Amway Global                (74,000)
  •          (64,000)
  • Amway Arena                 (33,100)
  • Amway Products           (40,500)
  •                    (165,000)
  • Amway Center                (40,500)
  • Amway Scam                   (18,100)

Amway Scam SERP of Google Autosuggest

Even though the keyword phrase ‘amway scam’ is at the bottom of the list, the Google algo rockets it to the 3rd position on their autosuggest feature and even in the natural search index. They do not determine this by actual search demand, they hide behind their secret sauce formula called relevance. Like Coca-Cola, Google will not reveal how they determine relevance, yet will little effort, a casual observer can see that negative words get a big boost in relevance from approximately 2 to 4 times more in comparison to actual search demand.

When sharing this discrepancy with other Google Gurus, they laugh at me when I try to make the case that this prejudged practice doesn’t help Google. They say, if the newspapers only printed positive news, then they’d go out of business. They lecture me saying Google is not really a ‘search’ business, they are an ‘advertising’ business model. Google is looking for rubberneckers who can’t drive by a minor accident on the freeway without making hundreds behind them slow down and take a look, thus allowing them time to spring their pay per click ads and other secret sales of search data to the corporate world as well as the hungry government intelligence services that are on an autopay relationship with Google.  The Google experts point to hundreds of articles showing how AT&T and Google have seamlessly worked together to data farm all communication and searches in violation of the United States Constitution and turn it the info over to the Feds for a fee or favors.  If you think I’m fabricating this story, just Google:  ‘at&t illegal wiretapping’ or ‘google nsa’.  Even Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, questioned, “What do you have to hide…?”

Many authorities demonstrate that Fascism, where governments and corporations become “One” to dominate the little guy, is the driving force in geopolitics in American and Global politics, but what do I know?

The bottom line is this:  if you want to beat your competition if they are doing a better job than you, take your authority site and couch your position so that you are not delivering libelous content by the letter of the law, yet you destroy the companies who produce a better product, for less money with passion.  That’s the Google Way.

Full disclosure: I was a full-time Amway distributor from 1989 through 1999.


Published in Reputation Management RSS


    • Whoa, at first I took this as spam, but you’ve got a cool tool to back up your link. Thanks.

  1. I agree. Our fine company is the subject of a false, malicious and defamatory rip off report and it went to the first page instantaneously.We are probably going to sue Google and ROR to prove a point. I concur with your sentiments.

    Rusty Solomon
    Mandrien Consulting Group

    • I’m not a lawyer, but I think there may be a domestic class action suit brewing.

  2. mark mark

    Has anyone had any luck removing “Scam” after their company name?

    • Yes, the bank in France kicked Google’s butt. I have yet to see someone do it in the United States, but I think it’s only a matter of time.

    • Aaron Aaron

      I have had success pushing Scam down the list so it’s not visible. There is no way to actually delete their data.

      • Aaron, that’s a powerful skill to have. My hat is off to you.

  3. Hi Glen

    This statement worries me about Google:

    When sharing this discrepancy with other Google Gurus, they laugh at me when I try to make the case that this prejudged practice doesn’t help Google. They say, if the newpapers only printed positive news, then they’d go out of business. They lecture me saying Google is not really a ‘search’ business, they are an ‘advertising’ business model.

    I am onside with you on this one. If Google is thinking like this – then they are not acting properly and thereby they are not acting truthfully. Either you are acting in true faith – or you don’t.

    Okay, Google is there to advertise. But that is the cart which their search engine horse pulls. Google is a search engine, and putting advertising before searches is not their job. Google won’t see it this way because they make more money by doing this, but the problem with this thinking is that it means that their search engine isn’t as good as it could be. My experiences with the new Panda algorithm is that it is not as good as previously – but Google doesn’t care because they are making more money and getting better metrics.

    Google are missing the first and most basic business practice: do what you tell your customers you do. 99,9% of those using Google use it to search, not to buy advertising.

    Someone, some day, will put the horse before the cart in their algorithm and tie in a really neat piece of advertising code and it will go viral just like Twitter did.

    • Google pushes legal keywords and negative words like scam, but I don’t know their true motive or mechanism. I’m not sure if they think it’s their responsibility to the world to expose people’s mistakes or to get juicier searches. Neither seems logical to me.

      I do know, however, that negative search links come up higher in the SERPs even with less people linking to those pages. It’s obvious in the Google Suggested drop down searches, related searches and it’s true even for organic searches. The only way I could defend Google in this practice is if the negative pages have viewers that stay on the pages longer to take in every word. But, according to my testing, the bounce rate is a very small factor in ranking for the Google algorithm.

      Anyway, it’s great to see a company in France was able to prove it in court and win a case against Google. If they lose a bunch of cases for this reason, I’m sure they’ll tweak their algorithm.

      When people are routinely committing suicide because of what is said about them online, we all should take this topic seriously.

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