Did you know Google blocks content it considers defamation from it’s organic search results and Google appears to simply trust defamation reports submitted to Google without any form of proof defamation has taken place! Updated: April 9th 2020.
Around November 2016 some of my webpages were blocked from Google after someone made an online defamation report to Google where the person making the reports (it was multiple reports) submitted misleading information and appeared to lie about contacting me by email about an inaccuracy in the information about a business I’d reviewed online!
What is Defamation?
First though, what is defamation legally:
Defamation the act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person : the act of defaming another : CALUMNY.
1: a misrepresentation intended to harm another’s reputation
2: the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another’s reputation
In simpler terms damaging some’s reputation with false claims is defamation.
Around November 2016 I accidentally fell foul of the Google defamation process resulting in one WordPress comment and the webpages associated with the comment being removed from Google SERPs when users searched for phrases like “DLH Web Consultancy Ltd Review”.
If you searched Google for “DLH Web Consultancy Ltd Review” in early 2017 you would find a notice at the bottom:
Defamation Complaint to Google
In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at LumenDatabase.org.
With a link to the relevant defamation claim: https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/13378139
Defamation Complaint to Google
Sent via: Unknown
Notice Type: Defamation
The articles contain several falsehoods. It relates to the company called DLH Web Consultancy Ltd, which is a totally separate company also this company has also legally closed. The author has, however, updated the articles to feature “AKA Web Consultancy Group”. As it is a different company and has nothing to do with the matters he refers to we believe this to be prejudicial against our business and request that they be removed from the website. We have contacted Fasthosts, where the server is and they provided us with an email for the host master, 3 email have since been sent with no reply. Further, the articles feature personal attacks against a lady, Elizabeth Mulligan, and seek to embarrass her. The publication of certain information by David Law has caused Ms Mulligan a great deal of anxiety and stress. Fact is, I work at Web Consultancy Group Limited, this is a totally separate company and has never been known as DLH Web Consultancy. This s …
Defamation Claim #1
URLs of Allegedly Defamatory Material:
Although there are 4 URLs listed, it’s just the one WordPress comment with the problem content, but at the time the problem content was loaded on all 4 of those URLs. You can see the problem content archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20170110104224/https://stallion-theme.co.uk/google-consultant/?cid=45093 and what it looked like before I made the honest error at http://web.archive.org/web/20141226105556/http://stallion-theme.co.uk:80/google-consultant/?cid=45093.
The above defamation claim was made on November 15th 2016. Took me 4 and a half months to notice the Web Consultancy SERPs drop, that’s how little I cared about Web Consultancy SERPs in 2016/2017.
After fixing the issues (it was a minor error) Google no longer blocks the relevant SERPs, so my content is no longer accidentally defaming Web Consultancy Group Ltd.
You would think for something as important as a defamation complaint which will take down webpages from Google, Google would require some form of proof defamation has taken place.
Shockingly Google appears to require NO evidence defamation has taken place and simply trusts what has been submitted at the time of the defamation complaint is true and not misleading!
What happened was I made an honest mistake adding “AKA Web Consultancy Group” to the comment about an unsolicited SPAM email from DHL Web Consultancy Group Ltd: that’s all I did wrong, everything else was and still is true.
The fix was removing the “AKA Web Consultancy Group” references and making it clear the two ltd companies are NOT the same business.
Also added a legal notice to be doubly sure.
Reviewers Tip: If you believe a limited business has changed it’s name, go check Companies House to make sure it’s not a new limited business. You don’t want to make the same silly mistake I made.
The business I wrote a comment about in 2014 was called:
DLH Web Consultancy Ltd : https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08239559
Business Address: Boho One – F05, Bridge Street West, Middlesbrough, England TS2 1AE
DLH Web Consultancy Ltd (closed on 4th October 2016), it was 100% owned by a Stephen Hall (he owned all ordinary shares in the business) and employed Elizabeth Mulligan who SPAM emailed me in 2014.
The new business…
Web Consultancy Group Ltd : https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07924238
Business Address: 21 Gosford St, Middlesbrough, TS2 1BB.
Web Consultancy Group Ltd was an active business when the defamation claim was made in late 2016. it was 100% owned by a Stephen Hall (he owned all ordinary shares in the business) and employed Elizabeth Mulligan who SPAM emailed me AGAIN in May 2017.
I received at least 4 unsolicited SPAM emails from employees of Web Consultancy Group Ltd (that’s the new business) between March 2017 and June 2017. I’m sure I received more than 4 SPAM emails, but I had no reason to save them all or even go hunting through my SPAM box for them.
All 4 SPAM emails were sent to an email address associated with a dead domain google-adsense-templates.co.uk. I’d used the domain for selling themes years ago, but it hadn’t had a website for several years, yet Web Consultancy Group Ltd used the email address associated with the domain to send multiple unsolicited SPAM emails! In 2017 the ONLY service active on google-adsense-templates.co.uk was one active email account.
Since the domain did NOT have a website it’s impossible for the 3 employees of Web Consultancy Group to visit the website to see if I’m interested in the services they tried to sell via the 4 SPAM emails.
Most of the emails tried to sell me “Search Advertising & Mobile Advertising”, that’s PPC services, why would I need Google AdWords for a domain with no website?
In one of the emails they ask “Why not take advantage of our free in-depth website audit?” In two of the emails it said “I’d like to offer you a free in-depth website audit that will cover many important factors on how to improve your conversion. This audit is completely free and will benefit any website owner, all reports will be sent directly to you via email.”
There was no website to audit, it was a domain with no website and just one working email address.
Clearly they had either scraped the Whois email address themselves or bought a database of email addresses to SPAM.
Note in 2017 they were associated with a website selling a database of over 1 million email addresses, is this the email database Web Consultancy Group used to send me unsolicited SPAM emails?
It’s certainly the domain where Web Consultancy had some (not all) of their Unsubscribe links pointing to. It looks like they were using the Interspire Email Marketer software for sending emails.
Does Interspire Email Marketer have sending limits?
Technically, there is no limit to the number or emails which Interspire Email Marketer can send. When dealing with high volumes of email, the capacity to send has more to do with the configuration of PHP, MySQL and most importantly the MTA (mail trasfer agent). Most servers use “out of the box” configurations of an MTA (Sendmail, QMail, Postfix, Exim, etc). We HIGHLY advise that you retain the services of an MTA expert if you intend on using Interspire Email Marketer to send more than 75,000 emails per campaign.
So Web Consultancy had access to a database of 1 million email addresses (which they sold to others) and an email software solution which can “send more than 75,000 emails per campaign”.
Makes you wonder just how many emails Web Consultancy staff sent in 2017?
Clearly Web Consultancy employees didn’t visit my website, I didn’t have a website for that domain, so any defence they thought I might like their services fails!
This was clear cut unsolicited SPAM emails: I still have 4 of the emails in my inbox ready to send to the police (update March 2020: the police now have copies of the SPAM emails), I’ve already sent them to the ICO.
To confirm, even though both businesses were associated with Stephen Hall (he owned 100% of the ordinary shares at the time the SPAM emails were sent) and Elizabeth Mulligan worked for both businesses at the time the SPAM emails were sent, legally speaking DLH Web Consultancy Ltd and Web Consultancy Group Ltd are NOT the same company.
My honest mistake was referring to them as the same business, I thought they’d just renamed DLH Web Consultancy Ltd to Web Consultancy Group Ltd since it’s the same people and they offer the same services, use the same website content etc… and the names are similar.
It was an honest mistake which I’d have happily rectified had I been informed by Web Consultancy before they issued the defamation claim. You will note from the defamation complaint the person making the complaint said they had contacted Fasthosts who had given them my content email address to which they had sent THREE emails.
I contacted Fasthosts support and they have no record of anyone EVER contacting them for my email address. It would appear the person who made the defamation complaint to Google, lied to Google!
I’m sure you see the problem here with the defamation process Google follows, if a defamation complaint seems plausible they will block content from Google even when the person making the complaint has lied!
Google’s defamation process is open to abuse and there’s not even an option for a website owner like me to ask for the reasons why content has been blocked from Google, we aren’t even informed our content is blocked: we have to stumble on the blocked SERPs by chance!
I’m trying to help vulnerable business owners who aren’t informed enough to always delete unsolicited SPAM emails to think twice before using any service which uses email SPAM. IMHO businesses like DLH Web Consultancy Ltd and Web Consultancy Group Ltd which use unsolicited email SPAM to gain customers should be closed down, they are unethical!
Update February 2020: Stephen Hall has started trading web design and SEO services via another business called Visibility Group Ltd https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08887771 Registered office address Boho Six, Suite 8, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, England, TS1 1RE.
Stephen Hall own 100% of the ordinary shares of Visibility Group Ltd and Visibility Group Ltd now owns all the Web Consultancy Group LTD ordinary shares.
To be clear I’m NOT accusing Visibility Group Ltd of sending unsolicited SPAM emails, as far as I’m aware I haven’t received any more SPAM emails from a business owned by Stephen Hall since 2017. I have no idea how they acquire new leads today.