Sorry this site requires JavaScript to be enabled in your browser. See the following guide on How to enable JavaScript in Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox and Safari. Alternatively you may be blocking JavaScript with an advert-related or developer plugin. Please check your browser plugins.

I bet you never saw this kind of lawsuit coming! As a professional service provider you obviously know you can be held liable for your performance, for negligence, and for making mistakes. You probably include something in your consulting agreements that addresses that. Your clients want assurances that you are responsible for your actions, and you want to be free to act in good faith on behalf of your clients, working to gain a competitive advantage in the search engine results pages. But the very nature of SEO is competition. For every winner in the SERPs, there are going to be losers. Are you ready to be sued by the losers?
Comments3 Comments  

Comments

Avatar
from johnandrews 1897 Days ago #
Votes: 1

What sort of indemnity clauses do you have in your SEO contracts? Are you covered if a competitor sues your client, claiming that the SEO optimizations you put in place intentionally harm them and interfere with their business? Are you clear of liability for claims that optimizing pages and strategically obtaining back links in order to rank above your competitor effectively "steals customers" away from them? Before you scoff this off as completely ridiculous, consider how a 30 page stack of claims specific to Internet marketing and especially SEO can quickly overwhelm most of today’s traditional small business lawyers. Merely responding to such an attack involves thousands of dollars in fees, including thousands of dollars in SEO consulting (how ironic). Will your client simply accept this as a cost of doing business? Are you ready to provide the expert consult the lawyers need before they can even consider the merits of the claims (or lack thereof)? Or will your price quote for those services prompt your client to simply pass the liability over to you, as an additional named party in the suit? I’d love to hear how others are preparing for this, or if anyone has already had to deal with it. It seems so basic yet, given the complexity of SEO and the paucity of awareness in the legal community, it is a real problem.

Avatar
from iamlost 1894 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Far too many in our industry (not just those who consider themselves ’SEOs’) define themselvesby what they do rather then as a business person providing such a service. This is not much ofa problem in an employee but a considerable set of blinders on an entrepeneur. Such mindsetblocking all things business means little interest in business planning of any depth, anybreadth, or the acquisition of business support services such as a competent accountant andattorney.I no longer consult or provide service for hire but did for many years lastly in webdev including atouch of what is commonly termed SEO. And my great tip is that SEO is not somehow ’different’from any other service. What is different is that so many providing the service either can not orwill not define the scope and boundaries of the offer.What opens up a contract (ye gads, the number of fools flying without a contract is onlyexceeded by those with horribly bad ones) to dispute is vague or ambiguous wording. Neither isacceptable. Each service must be clearly defined, clearly limited. And then there must be achange order clause that is rigidly enforced.Actually, I came to weight professional capability by the contract proffered - to properlyarticulate scope and boundaries requires knowing one’s subject to what I would consider aminimum acceptable level. Being able to ’do’ the job is not sufficient in and of itself outside ofan employee.And finally, I have to say that contract law is a complex and convoluted creature varyingsomewhat by jurisdiction. For a nonconversant individual to take it upon themselves to write acontract is like jumping into a pool of piranha with an open wound. Especially in the litiganthappy USA.You protect yourself by knowing your business and treating it as a business, hiring the bestavailable appropriate legal advisor, ditto an accountant, and carrying necessary insurance forwhen all else fails.The paucity of awareness in the legal community is only critical when you can/will not supply specifics to their questions or when they are too rigid to learn as necessary. For poor webdevs of all flavours I suggest following my example from some fifteen years ago - find a young willingeager bright poor law student and grow your services in tandem.

Avatar
from aimClear 1894 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sounds like you need to replace your legal team John :). We’re not worried.

Upcoming Conferences

Search Marketing ExpoSearch Engine Land produces SMX, the Search Marketing Expo conference series. SMX events deliver the most comprehensive educational and networking experiences - whether you're just starting in search marketing or you're a seasoned expert.



Join us at an upcoming SMX event: