Businesses looking to have negative reviews removed from Rip Off Report had their wish granted when the entire site was temporarily removed from Google. All 500,000+ pages were gone and at first it was thought to be a penalty, but it was later revealed that they had sent a removal request through one of the email addresses that was recently granted administrative access for their Webmaster Tools account. The site was later restored and Rip Off Report said they are launching an internal investigation, but this incident highlights the need for trust and security when delegating access to a site’s Webmaster Tools account.
Verifying a site with Google’s Webmaster Tools is an important step for SEO and site diagnostics, but if someone with malicious intent or inexperience gains access to your account, they make edits and change site settings that can hurt your business. As a general rule of thumb, the only people within an organization that should have access to the account should be stakeholders or a senior level SEO / IT staff member. Should you have an outside company managing your SEO, have procedures in place to monitor messages and activity as well as access, should the business relationship be terminated.
Google provides businesses with a powerful tool but businesses are ultimately in charge of who has access to it.