Google Rankings Suck? Sue Whoever's Above You!

from the legal-idiocy dept

We’ve seen plenty of stories over the past few years from people who don’t understand how Google works deciding to sue the company over poor rankings, somehow believing that they have a legal right to high rankings. The courts have made it pretty clear that these lawsuits are a waste of time as Google is free to rank sites however it wants. However, the idea of suing over piss poor rankings seems to be spreading to other people as well. Last month we had the story of a company suing the search engine optimizer they had used four years ago after their rankings on certain terms dropped (long after he worked for them). The latest story may be even more bizarre. It started over the weekend with a blog post that got plenty of attention concerning a representative of a (nameless) company complaining to a blogger that his blog ranked higher than their company site on a certain term related to their business. They even asked the blogger to request that Google remove his blog from their rankings. The guy (understandably) told them this was ridiculous. Now, Slashdot points out that the company has responded to the blogger telling him not only that they’ve asked Google to remove his site, but that they’ve also contacted their lawyers, potentially to sue the blogger for his better rankings. It seems unlikely that any lawyer would take on the case, but these days, you never know. The company also claims that Google will clearly side with the company because Google wants businesses to rank higher since they’re a business themselves — which suggests the company doesn’t know much about Google. It’s clear that many companies rely way too much on their Google rankings as a way of driving business — but it’s amazing that they don’t seem to understand that they don’t have a right to any particular ranking, and they certainly can’t sue people if they don’t like how they’re rated. Basing your business on your Google rankings is a business risk, and if it doesn’t work out to your advantage, it’s your fault as a business for poor strategic planning — not those who happen to have done better than you in the rankings. Update: Some good comments suggesting that this whole story is a hoax, or perhaps an attempt to game Google on its own…

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Comments on “Google Rankings Suck? Sue Whoever's Above You!”

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misanthropic humanist says:

possibly a hoax story

The word on the /. story is that it’s an elaborate hoax by a SEO who is trying to initiate a viral campaign of sorts.

Anyway, the point stands that there’s rather a lot of stories like this about at the moment.

Bear with me for a moment even though I may seem insane 🙂
Actually I think there may be some merit in the *general* idea that a site ranking can be hijacked on its keywords. I’ve noticed a lot of spamdex sites lately that rank very highly on certain keywords. When you look at them they are the same nonsense obviously written by a Markov chain Perl script which has basically scraped all the keywords from well known big sites and rehashed them into an attractive link farm.

I could imagine a business getting very annoyed by this, and if there was a way to prove that the spam site had been set up only to operate parasitically on the other sites keywords and was not actually related to that business, then maybe I could even agree that they should be challenged.

However, when your only complaint is that someone else in the same business as you has a better ranking then it’s tough titty isn’t it. If you want better ranking go and buy some Google Ads. Employing SEO’s is throwing good money after bad imho, they are all charlatans and invariably their knowledge is useful only for a short time while they can exploit some short lived trick. Google are improving their algorithms all the time and they seem to get fairer and fairer towards real content. Maybe the problem with these whining businesses is that they don’t actually have any content worth speaking of.

Spud (user link) says:

You gotta be kidding!

This is crazy! You can’t sue Google just because you don’t rank as high as you would like. If anyone succeeded with a lawsuit like this then everyone would be suing if they weren’t as high as they would like. Come on people lets get real. Make a quality site, get lots of people to link to it, adhere to the generally accepted techniques for search engine optimisation and you should get a decent ranking.

Ryan (profile) says:

I believe it

I believe it because I’ve seen it before.

In fact I blogged about a similiar occurance here

here’s what happened to my company: We recieved both a cease and desist, and a lawsuit threat from a Ford dealer who threatened to come after us for ranking above his website. The term in question was “XXXXXXXXX Ford” where XXXXXXXXX is both the name of his ford dealership, AND the city his ford dealership was located in.

Our site’s title was XXXXXXXXX area Ford Dealers and had a list of all ford dealerships, their phone numbers, websites, etc within 25 miles of XXXXXXXXX.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: I believe it

You’r story is amusing Ryan (obviously not to you, no belittlement intended), because actually you are doing the twunts a huge favour.
You’re advertising their service for them for free!

This comes down to meglomania again, an unreasonable expectation of control, and poor boundaries understanding of what one does actually own and have control over.

A driver in speeding car believes that they “own” the piece of road immediately in front of their vehicle, it’s really interesting to watch psychology studies of road rage happening.

I can just imagine the fools you speak of getting all hot and red reading Google and thinking “Hey, we OWN those WORDS!”

Most 3 year olds have developed to the stage where they realise you cannot own words or ideas, after puberty I think many people start to regress again in our country.

Anyway if I lived in a town called XXXXXXXXX, I’d want all the free publicity I could get, what with always being at the end of the searches. Why don’t you all move to AAAAAAAA ? 🙂

BBoy says:

I'm suing.

I’m an actor/web designer. Rankings are highly important to me. When I didn’t see my MySpace page ranked high enough based on my search terms, but found SOMEONE ELSE’S MySpace above mine, based on my search terms I knew something was up. Test it for yourelf.

BTW, let me know what you think of my page. I know I blocked the default MySpace adds, but I’ve gotten away with it so far 😀

Anyway. My Lawyer informs me, that since my MySpace is crucial to my job’s income, I might just have a case. Guess it’s time to see what comes of it!

Another Dude says:

Re: I'm suing.

First of all, who cares about your MySpace page. If you were a professional actor you would realize that a REAL website would be needed, not a MySpace page. Second, mixing tech things with acting was probably the dumbest thing you could do. And last but not least, you might want to check the creds on your lawyer. His degree probably came from an online gig and he’s getting a god laugh taking your money. Hopefully he is…at least you would realize how much of an idiot you are. Move to Canada

SearcH EngineS WeB (user link) says:



This is really not that far fetch. Google’s spam chief has a VERY POPULAR blog. You’d be shocked at how may readers actually post their complaints about other competitors on that blog attempting to get them banned from the Google SERPs :-O

Many even double-post to Google directly, then complain on the blog when Google did not ban the competitor they ‘outed’

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