Innocent companies and individuals won a great battle last week against competitors and former employees who saturate the Web with negative search term modifiers such as “scam” and “fraud”, resulting in Google’s Autocomplete suggesting the terms to unsuspecting users. A sigh of relieved was felt across the World Wide Web as Google removed the word “scam” from search suggestions. But was this good for everyone?

Google Removes the Word Scam from Search Suggestions

Does Scam Removal Mean Truth Removal?

Okay, so thousands of businesses are protected from wrong doing, but what about the consumers who may use the word scam as a signal to perform diligence? Will there be more users buying sunglasses from bullies or worse, more con artists appearing out of the woodwork to take advantage of innocent searchers?

Hope is not lost my friends, as this change isn’t a complete retraction of scam terms, but merely a way of not highlighting negative results. Call it “miserable failure part deux”, appealing to masses and fixing an exploit many brutal SEO Experts have leveraged against competition. Instead, you’ll still find the suggestion in the right margin of the search results as well as in the “Searches Related to” recommendations within the actual search results:

Screenshot of Scam Still Appearing in Related Searches

Ripoff Report Extortionists &

Okay, I’m way out of line speaking on something I have no evidence on, only here-say. However, I’ve received enough feedback to have the personal opinion that Ripoff Report may be doing some very ugly extortion-like activity. For example, you cannot remove a page, but (and I say but with one finger way up in the air; I won’t say which one) you can work with them (pay them) to try to help get a retraction or….well, I’ll let you use your imagination here.

While we see no evidence of the word ripoff disappearing just yet, we have our hopes up.

What about those disgruntled ex-employees posting in destinations such as, the word complaints also haunts businesses both in Google Autocomplete and within Instant, organic and related search results. There are strategies to help push this content down, some of which are presented on my own study, appropriately titled Beat the Autocomplete, but it’s no easy task and definitely not one I’d wish on an internal SEO specialist (both the work and trying to read my somewhat complicated study results).

The best advice this SEO guy can give is to work your butt off to not give customers ammunition to use scam, complaints, and ripoff terms to describe you, your employees, or your company. Services such as GetSatisfaction are popping up all over the place to improve customer loyalty, communication and customer service. My advice: if you predict issues based on your business practices, these definitely can’t hurt.

Update 4/11/11

So now we’re super confused. It appears that either Google isn’t updating all of the production servers with the change or they changed their mind. Take a look at the word SCAM reappearing in Google Autocomplete today:

Screenshot of Google Autocomplete Scam Word Reappearing

What do you think is going on? Please share your feedback and insight below.