Suing Your Search Engine Optimizer Because Your Ranking Sucks

from the a-new-twist dept

Why is it that people have this weird expectation that having a high search engine ranking is some sort of legally guaranteed right? We’ve seen a bunch of lawsuits recently where companies sue search engines because they’re not happy with their ranking, but here’s a twist. Threadwatch points us to the story of a search engine optimizer (SEO) who is being sued by a former client because that client’s search engine rankings have dropped below those of another company, who later hired the same person. The details aren’t completely filled in, but it sounds like the complaint from the company is that the SEO later worked for this same company and helped “optimize” their rankings so they beat out the former client. The SEO notes that the work he did for the original client was four years ago and they’ve done little to nothing to continue the process of optimizing their site. The guy also claims that his agreements with companies make it clear that he does not work exclusively with them, and you’d have to imagine that most SEO contracts do not promise specific results — especially not ones that would last four years after a contract is complete. It sounds like yet another case of a company suing simply because they don’t like something, not because they have any real legal claim.

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Comments on “Suing Your Search Engine Optimizer Because Your Ranking Sucks”

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Bubba says:

I don’t know, this one isn’t so frivolous. This is largely due to the fact that the reason the company’s rank dropped was due to their former contractor! Certainly the 4-year thing mitigates. But still, if I paid a lot of money to a company to help me get an edge on the competition, then the competition hired them to effectively undo their work, I’d be pretty pissed.

jimmyjames says:

Re: Re:

That’s the thing, they didn’t hire the SEO to ‘undo’ thier work. The SEO provided the same service to a new client. Should they be held responsible because the old client hadn’t ‘refreshed’ thier service or thier contract in 4 years? If this year’s Mustang is faster than my ’03, should I sue Ford?

Mattb says:

Re: Re:

I can understand the company’s point of view if they just hired the SEO to improve their rankings, and then the SEO then went to a competitor. Or if they had an ongoing contract and the SEO did work for their direct competitor. But it’s been 4 years. How long is long enough?

If I had company and hired an ad agency to make a campaign for me, I couldn’t expect the ad agency to not accept future work from my competitors. That’s silly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s completely frivolous. Your comment shows the ignorance of your understanding.

A. Company hires worker to do job.
B. Worker does job.
C. Worker no longer works for company.
D. Four years pass.
E. Worker starts work for original companies competitor.
F. Original company doesn’t like it and sues?

That’s just dumber than shit and if you practice business the same way good fucking luck.

logix says:

how to end frivolous lawsuits

It’s one thing to file suit and then lose. But to file suit where you have no legal grounds to be filing in the first place is inexcusable, and it should never even be put in front of a jury. And I can solve it:

If a judge deems that a lawsuit has no legal footing in the first place, the plaintiff’s attorney can NOT charge for their work, can NOT be reimbursed for expenses, MUST pay a hefty fine, MUST cover the court’s expenses, and MUST reimburse any expenses incurred by the defendant due to the suit. Some would say the plaintiff should be responsible for this, but I say his attorney should be, since he was hired to make the determination of whether footing exists. These lawyers know good and well when they’re filing a frivolous suit. When H&R Block does my taxes, they’re responsible if they screw them up.

And one more thing: after filing a certain number of frivolous suits, they should lose their license to practice in all 50 states.

mousepaw says:

suing your seo

Too bad the seo can’t counter-sue on the grounds of “supidity.”

It would be the former client’s responsibility to stay on top of it. Maybe they should be looking at their own IT people? Did they think that nothing was going to change in 4 years?

If anyone came along and thought the seo did a good job on the former client’s company rankings, that’s all the more reason to hire the guy, since I believe this kind of thing would be portfolio-based.

There is nothing in the article that says they signed any kind of agreement preventing this situation. Also, there isn’t any info on whether the former client retained the seo to maintain their rankings.

Can’t really see much of a case.

Ryan (profile) says:

as a former seo

as somebody who’s done SEO before… every contract I make says “I will increase traffic to your website, deliver more targeted visitors, and make it more useful to visitors.”

Regardless of whether or not somebody else gets more than you, your contract is still fulfilled.

Ranking position means nothing. It’s just another pointless metric that SEOs like to throw around.

I’ll take 2 #5 rankings over 1 #1 ranking any day..

It’s not about where you show up in the listing, it’s about getting more targeted visitors to your website and increasing sales. Eventually customers will understand that.

Jeff says:

Ryan is wrong

Couldn’t be more wrong, Ryan. It’s all about the number 1s… If I sold vitamins, I would rather be #1 for:

vitamin consumption facts calories

Than #4 for:


Especially on MSN.. Google is important but people don’t realize is that SEO is SEO. So what you have to wrry about is where you are on the Yahoos, like and more than just

Lastly focusing on sales is a short term goal. But the long term goal should always be Adsense revenues because 468×80 banner ads aren’t that good anymore. Ergo, the more traffic you get, the more untargetted visitors you get who will want to leave your site, and therefore the more money you make.

Daniel Morritt (user link) says:

4 years?

My anti virus is 4 years old and no longer catching any new virii … argh … sue the AV company!

Suppose 2 people selling the same product come to the same company for services? Dilemma time .. could they work for both? Sure you could improve both their rankings but they could still claim your working for a competitor – especially if one has a better ranking than the other.

ZipWizard (user link) says:

Reaction to Sued Over SEO

Internet information could be full of erronious advise, and only viewed for entertainment. Any potential litigants should seek a lawyer immediately. Non of us out here know the true facts. But..I think the SEO case has no grounds because the limitations have run out. Bogus lawsuits are not legal lawsuits. They are attempted extortion. Frivolous and Bogus. Waste of court time. Against the law. I think this one is out-the-door before the judge ever sees it.

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