At times, I feel like I am devoting my life to bringing some honesty into an industry known for scams and crazy marketing hype. What I discovered today left me sick to my stomach. It’s days like these that make me want to just give up and say “to hell with the industry!”
I stumbled on SupplementCritique.com, which has the following messages on the homepage:
“Real reviews from real people”
Unbiased and fair reviews of supplements
Welcome To The Most Factual, Unbiased, and REAL Supplement Review Site On The Internet…
The site appears to get a decent amount of traffic, so I kept investigating these claims. What I found was astonishing.
Rob Miller (self-proclaimed owner of SupplementCritique.com) claims to have personally tested hundreds of supplements himself. On his homepage he shares his top picks. Sadly, it appears that these “top picks” are really the ones earning him the most money. Most of his recommendations are textbook affiliate scams.
Here’s an overview of the supplements he recommends on his homepage and an estimate of how much money he makes off each:
This is what caught my attention in the first place. Crazy Mass is one of the lowest rated brands on SupplementReviews.com, and we went in-depth to show you that Crazy Mass is complete bullshit, yet Rob Miller is actually touting them as #1? They name their products after popular (and illegal) anabolic steroids, yet fill them with completely ineffective ingredients. They build a bunch of hype, and incentivize affiliates to create fake reviews because they offer a whopping 45% commission on referred sales.
We actually tried submitting a fake negative and fake positive review on the CrazyMass.com website - no surprise here, the negative review disappeared while the positive review was listed as #1. The product is a complete scam, yet SupplementCritique.com is listing it as the #1 Recommended Pre-workout because of how much it earns him.
Here is what Rob Miller and SupplementCritique is earning:
Price: $185 per stack (http://www.crazymass.com/cutting-stack/)
ROB EARNS: 45% or $83.25 PER ORDER. Source: (http://cmass.postaffiliatepro.com/affiliates/index.php)
Let’s compare that to what we’re doing on SupplementReviews.com. At the time of writing, our #1 Pre-Workout is Pre-Jym. Our reviewers rated this the highest, and they will never receive a penny in commission, so you know that the merits of the product is what got it to #1. The only affiliate link is for Bodybuilding.com - where we earn an average commission of 7.5%. The product sells for $35.57, so we earn $2.67 if you end up buying it.
Rob Miller chose to recommend a product that earns him 30X as much as our top pre-workout. Conflict of interest? We think so.
The list goes on. At the time of writing, these were his other suggested top picks:
Rob’s Top Fat Burning Supplement: Instant Knockout
Price: $59.00 per bottle, up to $185.00 (http://www.instantknockout.com/order.html/)
Rob earns 30% ($17.70 per bottle, or up to $55.50 per order)
Rob’s Top Testosterone Boosting Supplement: Testofuel
Price: $69.00 per bottle, up to $219.00 (https://www.testofuel.com/order-now.html/)
Rob earns 30% ($20.70 per bottle, up to $65.70 per order)
http://www.stackedbrands.com/the-brands/#testo_fuel - Surprise! It’s the same company as his #1 recommended top fat burner!
Rob’s Top HGH Releaser: HyperGH 14x
Price: $79.99 per bottle (https://www.hypergh14x.com/order.html#phoneNumber)
Rob earns 30% ($24.00 per bottle)
SR Ranking: HyperGH 14x was actually rated as a 0.2/10.
Rob’s Top Nootropic Supplement: Mind Boost
Price: $69.00 per bottle, up to $294.00 (http://simplesmartscience.com/mindboost-day/)
Rob earns: 30% ($20.70 per bottle, up to $88.20 per order)
But Wait! It gets worse…
Rob uses some dirty tactics to drive traffic to his site. He’ll gain your trust by writing strong negative reviews on popular products that are also complete scams. Then he’ll pull the bait and switch and convince you to buy a different scam product that earns him a fat commission check.
For example, if you search google for “Adderin review”, his blog post will show up #3. He actually writes a compelling argument about how Adderin is a complete scam. At the end of the article, he plugs his “Top Choice” alternative product. Yes, the one that earns him over $20 if you buy it.
So why does Google rank his site well?
This is because Rob has done a lot of “black hat” search engine optimization to spam his site to the top of Google. This includes link spamming and buying links, both of which are direct violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Here are a few examples:
UNC Badminton Page:
The UNC Badminton page, http://badminton.unc.edu/ had a block of text and a spam link back to SupplementCritique.com that looked highly suspicious. I went ahead and emailed the treasurer of the club and asked if the link was authorized or not. Here’s his response:
Our club just communicated with our previous club officials, and we confirmed that the ads were not spams. We used to ask that organization to sponsor us to raise funds.
Clearly the link was not added because it’s a quality site, but because Rob paid for the link to be there.
Cal Berkeley Dragonboat:
The “old” Cal Dragonboat team page, https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~caldboat/drupal/ also had a suspicious block at the bottom with a link back to SupplementCritique. I didn’t get a response from my inquiry, it seems safe to assume it’s another paid link, again violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Textbook Comment Spam:
He is also using straight-up comment spam. Here’s an example screenshot:
These tactics are a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and an unnatural way to trick the search engines into ranking your site higher.
Is SupplementCritique.com leading consumers down the wrong path?
Absolutely. In a recent Reddit thread, user “Johnny Game Guy” is asking what’s up with all the hype regarding the Crazy Mass products (SupplementCritique’s #1 recommended preworkout). We went ahead and asked him how he found out about it in the first place, and he mentioned SupplementCritique.com. Shame on you, Rob Miller, shame on you.
What can we do?
The supplement industry is always going to attract scammers, which makes our job a constant uphill battle. However if you can prevent even one person from getting swindled, it’s still a step in the right direction. Here’s a few ways you can make a difference:
Check reviews on a site you trust before buying the product. If there are none, contact the manufacturer and let them know you won’t buy their product until you see some honest reviews.
If you are reading reviews on an unknown site, check to see if it’s an affiliate scam.
- Share this story to help build some healthy skepticism in the community.
October 27, 2015
Guys like this are so frustrating, and Google is flooded with them. They feed off of brand names by ranking for "brand OR product name review" and then write a review that tells them to buy some other product (whichever pays the most commission) instead. Most of these people don't think twice about flat out lying about a brand/product either.
October 27, 2015
Did a little research (seo-wise) on them. Looks like they may have gotten penalized back in mid 2013...but cam back big time in 2014. There biggest drawer of traffic is "ripped muscle x". Quite a number of sketchy domains linking to them with very sketchy link text. From all over the world. I am not sure if he did this or hired this out to a really bad 3rd party SEO company. But for now, it is working for him. Everyone here could submit a complaint to Google, but they gets 1,000's per day. The algo will catch up to him - https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?pli=1
November 2, 2015
Hucksters like this will always be out there. Fortunately, most people have enough sense about them to realize who's actually providing quality information and giving sound, reasonable advice. SupplementReviews.com clearly is at the top of the heap in this regard. A dedicated community, great sponsors and a sincere interest for providing a meaningful service to the industry.
April 18, 2016
I have found the same kinds of problems when looking for laptops & computer security programs, even free security programs with name brand popular magazines that people pay for the printed version.
The only things we can do is multiple searches & complain to Google. Keep in mind they are a publicly traded company that the search engine provides the route for their ads which are the golden eggs for them.
Complaining in a polite & positive way can be effective if enough people do so. Our problem is most people do not to our government leaders or companies.
October 19, 2016 - Last Edited: 2016-10-19 09:51:42
Thanks for this article.
But man is this frustrating...
I recently decided to take my health into my own hands and started working out every day, started looking into supplements so my workout doesn't go to waste.
Found something that looked good, researched it and found the SupplementCritique guy who said it was crap and suggested the CrazyMass one which is much better, so i research SupplementCritique and found your post...sigh...Next thing i bet you guys will recommend some other supplement and i will research you and find someone else calling you a scammer...will this cycle ever end? Who can you trust...
October 19, 2016
@MrBaka - it's pretty easy to notice the differences in this site than a lot of other "unbiased" sites. The most notable is that we're not trying to get you to buy anything, and the owner, myself, is not the one writing any reviews. So fundamentally, we're just set up in a way that helps prevent the promise of profits from creating a bias.
July 14, 2017 - Last Edited: 2017-07-14 04:39:49
Thank you for writing this article. It's about time someone called Rob out for his unethical tactics.
Obviously, when someone resorts to using a fake name and stock photo to represent the website's "owner", you know they have something to hide, and probably aren't doing things on the up and up.
After some digging, I was able to find the real owners name, which turned out to be Robert Vrabel from Jupiter, FL. I believe if he's going to scam innocent people, they deserve the right to know the REAL name of the person who's feeding them these lies... and not some fictional character he created to peddle his scams.
You can find Robert's REAL FB page here: https://facebook.com/rob.vrabel.9
Normally, I wouldn't involve someone's wife, but Robert's wife (Rachel Vrabel) appears to own a very similar blog to Roberts, and uses the same dishonest tactics to swindle her readers out of their hard earned money.
Her blog is basically the female version of supplementcritique.com, which she uses to "expose" diet and beauty scams, while simultaneously promoting products that are just as scammy, and earning a commission on every sale.
Rachel's website: http://www.womensblogtalk.com (notice the same WP theme)
At least she has the courage to use her real name when scamming people... which unfortunately for Robert is how I found his real identity in the first place.
His wife's website was hosted on the same IP along with SupplementCritique, and another blog Rob owns called http://bestenhancementreviews.com.
He actually uses another fake identity on this website, and calls himself Dave Walker: http://www.bestenhancementreviews.com/about-me/