Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    August West, 14 Nov 2006 @ 4:37am

    Aaahh, frivoluos lawsuits, the new way to try and increase the bottom line

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Scate, 14 Nov 2006 @ 4:48am

    This lawsuit at least makes more sense than suing Google! But, if they haven't been a client for 4 years that is a bit much. Even if their had been an exclusivity agreement that would have expired long ago...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bubba, 14 Nov 2006 @ 4:49am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jimmyjames, 14 Nov 2006 @ 5:13am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mattb, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:09am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2006 @ 1:40pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    beakman, 14 Nov 2006 @ 5:40am

    sue Ford? great idea!

    Thanks for the idea, jimmyjames! I saw a brand new Explorer today that looks nicer and has more horsepower than mine. So I'll sue them! And they're a great target who has a reputation for bending over and signing checks.

    Sh*t. Now you'll probably sue me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    logix, 14 Nov 2006 @ 5:56am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mousepaw, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:06am

    Re: 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jon, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:07am

    Darn

    The headline had my hopes up that someone was finally cracking down on these snake-oil selling SEO companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael rossiter, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:10am

    how could you? :(

    None of you have given me a reason to sue you for anything, and because of that I'm going to sue you all for mental anguish!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryan, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:13am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jeff, 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:50am

    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:

    vitamins

    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 yahoo.de and yahoo.eu.. more than just google.com.

    Lastly focusing on sales is a short term goal. But the long term goal should always be Adsense revenues because 468x80 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daniel Morritt, 14 Nov 2006 @ 7:47am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nick, 14 Nov 2006 @ 7:58am

    SEO

    I too have some sympathy with this guy. I seem to get bombarded with dumb claims from SEO companies promising to make me number one for my chosen search terms.

    One day I am going to take them up on it, and say they only get paid if I am top rank on google for a search on 'microsoft'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Xenohacker@hotmail.com, 14 Nov 2006 @ 8:20am

    Equality?

    Don't you just love it when people have to earn their rank in life and even throwing money around doesn't get you everything... :-) Good - 1 Evil - 0

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Starky, 14 Nov 2006 @ 9:32am

    Welcome

    Welcome to America.
    You really don't need a reason to sue here. You can sue just because you're unhappy about something (and occasionally win)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    satan, 14 Nov 2006 @ 11:22am

    Punish them

    The people who file this shit should be fined majorly

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Louis, 14 Nov 2006 @ 11:49am

    I´d be laughing...

    ... if this wasn't so sad :'-(

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ZipWizard, 21 Nov 2006 @ 11:40am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Marek, 18 Mar 2016 @ 4:12am

    sue?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.