A law firm in Michigan,Â Seikaly Stewart,Â is suing its former SEO provider â€” but not for a lack of ranking success. Rather, the firm is getting sued for allegedly using â€œspammyâ€ techniques violating Googleâ€™s guidelines. That comes via Eric Goldman.
The defendantÂ Rainmaker Institute, which specializes in online marketing services for the legal profession, is accused knowingly violating Google SEO guidelines by building â€œlink farmsâ€ on behalf of the plaintiffâ€™s several legal domains.
Itâ€™s not clear from the complaintÂ (also embedded below) whether the plaintiff law firm suffered any ranking penalty as a result of the link farming.Â Hereâ€™s the factual core of the plaintiffâ€™s claim:
Expert analysis performed since the conclusion of the contract has shownÂ that essentially no links were created for protectyourstudent.com and seikalystewart.com.Â Approximately 6720 links appear to have been created for Oaklandbusinesslawyers.com,Â but all the links with the exception of approximately 188 links, were worthless links builtÂ with link farming techniques and, in many cases, were not forwarding to the Plaintiffâ€™sÂ webpages at all.Â
In approximately April 2012, Google stepped up enforcement of its policiesÂ against link building schemes, in part through the implementation of new programs andÂ algorithms collectively known as the â€œPenguinâ€ update.Â
The Penguin update made it even less likely that the link building schemesÂ being utilized by the Defendants and THE RAINMAKER INSTITUTE would be of any valueÂ to its clients.
Upon information and belief, it quickly became even more apparent to theÂ Defendants that their schemes would have no positive effect and might have a detrimentalÂ effect on the webpages in domain names owned by the Victim Firms; however, DefendantsÂ continued to take money for their worthless services, without disclosing that it knew thatÂ the alleged services would be of no value.
Goldman points out that an earlier New Jersey case allowed a negligence claim against an SEO firm whose practices caused a duplicate content penalty for the plaintiff (its former SEO client).
In the currentÂ SeikalyÂ case there have been no specific damages alleged. And the complaint doesnâ€™t say that plaintiffâ€™s domains have been penalized by Google.
Goldman says SEO clients should be more directly involved and informed about the practices that will be used by the retained SEO firm. It almost goes without saying, though we canâ€™t expect â€œordinary peopleâ€ to be experts on Googleâ€™s SEO guidelines.
More interesting to me are the following questions implied or directly raised by the action (depending on the outcome):
- Will SEO firms that go outside the bounds of established â€œwhite hatâ€ SEO practice be automatically vulnerable to liability?
- Will the court limit liability in cases where the plaintiff has not done any â€œdue diligenceâ€ on the SEO practitioner? In other words, what burden does a buyer of SEO services have to investigate the SEO firm? (Probably none.)
- What damages might be assessed in situations where a ranking penalty has occurred? (e.g., fees paid, lost revenue?)
- What might be recoverable when there is no Google ranking penalty?
Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Penguin Update | Legal: General | SEO: Spamming | Top News
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Article source: http://searchengineland.com/lawyers-sue-seo-firm-violating-google-guidelines-192492