Originally, Ed Magdeson created Ripoff Report in 1998 to give consumers a place to voice their frustration with businesses that have somehow wronged them. It's like the Better Business Bureau but much more public and less business-oriented.
Consumers can post their complaints on Ripoff Report by simply supplying a name, email address, and physical address. This makes it easy for someone to fake their information and post fake reviews.
Once a consumer posts a Ripoff Report, they are redirected to let them contact a government authority, a lawyer, a consumer advocate, or a member of the media.
The big problem with Ripoff Report
The company states on its site that it will always keep reviews on the Ripoff report. This includes when a claim has been declared patently false.
They allow the original complainant and the company in question to post responses, but this will usually devolve into a shouting match and keeps the original post the same.
Google will show information from Ripoff Report in their searches because it meets their criteria. They don't vet most sites for truth, so it's unimportant how much of Ripoff Report is truthful and how much is false.
The Ripoff Report effect
Suppose your business has been listed on Ripoff Report. That report will show very high in Google search results when someone searches your business's Name.
The consumer sees a Ripoff Report headline on Google that reads something like this: "Complaint Review: John Watson aka SLUMLORD - Bristol New York." (Not an accurate headline. Name and places changed to protect the innocent.)
As you can see, the Google listing is scathing. There is no middle ground or attempt to deal with facts.
Even negative newspaper headlines are less incendiary.
The issue is that there needs to be proof for the searcher. Just a headline that sounds bad for the landlord without any backup data.
It's all negative
Ripoff Report is all negative reviews. They don't post positive reviews, so everything on there is a bad reputation report on someone. It hasn't been substantiated or even investigated by the site.
The service they provide
Ripoff Report offers services where they will mediate or investigate a complaint. They don't guarantee any resolution and won't take down the complaint if it's found to be false.
They will, however, charge you thousands for these services without guaranteeing any results.
How to counteract Ripoff Reports
There are only two ways to "remove" reviews on Ripoff Report.
The first is to go to court and have the complaint declared invalid. You can submit that court documentation to Google. They will remove the link to the complaint so that it doesn't show up when people search. That's an expensive and lengthy process.
Your blog: Put a blog page on your website and post regularly. Those posts will appear when someone searches for your brand or related content.
Regular posts would be weekly or semi-weekly. The content should be SEO-optimized and informative.
Guest blogging: Getting your blogs published on someone else's blog, with your byline, will make it easier to suppress the Ripoff Report down the page on Google searches.
Finding places to guest post takes some research. Some high-profile sites, like Medium.com, are excellent but will require you to apply and get permission. The faster path is to find other businesses similar to yours with blogs. Write to them and ask if they accept guest posts. Many people will as it pushes up their blog without them having to work. Ensure there's a link between your site and theirs to help you reach the top of search results.
Other things you can do
Many of the other things are that you are simply ensuring that your website's SEO is completely optimized.
Very often, you can do most of this yourself. You can look at your site and keep it growing well.
Optimize the copy on the page: Make sure that the words visible on your website are accurate and will attract Google's attention. Your Name, location and more should all be on the page.
Metadata: Every page has metadata that Google reads to see what the page is about. Ensure that the metadata is correct and that it's kept up to date. Use different metadata on some pages. Google will ignore all but one of the pages.
Images: The images on your page are essential. Google reads that "alt text" to know what the image is. Ensure that the image is relevant to your business and that the alt text explains the idea. When someone does an image search, your image will show up, and you might get a click out of it.
Buy Google Ads: Paid advertising is a great way to get your business at the top of the page. If you have a national company, it might be cost-prohibitive. Still, you can control what's at the top of the search page for a local business by purchasing Google ads.
The Ripoff Report Problem
Ripoff Report is the bane of many businesses' existence. Since it's user-generated content, they aren't legally liable for anything that's posted on their site. You can't force them to take anything down.