Wednesday, March 3

The Legalities Of SEO: When Things Go Wrong

Search engine optimization, known by the acronym SEO, is the practice by which a company works to push its website to the top spots on a search engine’s results. It involves a number of techniques, such as the inclusion of a video on your landing page (which can actually increase your odds of ending up on that coveted first page by 5300%) or the implementation of high quality written content that utilizes relevant keywords.

While most SEO organizations execute these techniques without a hitch, sometimes accidents happen and mistakes are made. As the case between SEO firm BrioDigital and their client NestEdge Realty proved, the resulting argument may end up in court.

On July 16 of this year, NestEdge sued the SEO firm for one million dollars, claiming that their negligence caused consumers viewing the ads to question NestEdge’s competency, and subsequently negated any benefits that the firm may have had. Allegedly, the content had poor grammar, used terminology unrelated to the realty industry, and mixed up messages aimed at buyers and sellers.

BrioDigital, who at that point had “very happy, satisfied clients,” blamed a fault in Google’s updated platform. Apparently, NestEdge wrote the ads themselves and BrioDigital placed them on Google, but — as a result of the update — nonsensical symbols and parts of other ads were inserted into the original material. Theresa Davidson, owner and founder of BrioDigital, provided email correspondence with Google as evidence of the event, but a NestEdge official found it hard to believe that Google could make such a mistake. NestEdge was able to persuade American Express to refund the $6,000 paid to BrioDigital, but Davidson quickly had it restored after the credit card company examined the contract and Google exchange.

Though their contract only equated $3,650 a month, NestEdge was looking for one million for “emotional distress and harm to their reputations” — what is commonly known as defamation of character. Ironically, BrioDigital claimed that the lawsuit had had a similar impact on their business’s reputation:

“This is the first time my company has had anything negative like this written about us,” Davidson said. “We are a reputable company.”

Fortunately, the case was settled with relative ease by mid-November, and for much less than initially requested: NestEdge paid $5,000 for SEO services and BrioDigital paid back $1,150 for pay-per-click ad services. It appears that both companies chose well from the 1,315,561 lawyers this country has to offer, especially considering the exorbitant costs involved in a case going to trial.

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