Want To Sue Your SEO Company?

Jan 28, 2013 • 8:14 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEM / SEO Companies

sueJason hired what he thought would be a reputable SEO company but it turns out, that SEO company did not deliver on their promise. Or at least, Jason doesn't believe so. So he stopped paying the SEO company. The SEO company then in turn sued Jason for not paying. Jason countersued for not delivering what he felt he deserved from the company.

This is the story Jason wrote in a Google Webmaster Help thread.

We know, there are many bad bad SEO companies out there. But SEO companies that do not deliver upon client expectations aren't considered "bad." The main question here is, can a customer sue an SEO company and win?

Obviously, most of it depends on the contract between the SEO company and the customer. Depending the set of deliverables and terms of the contract, that will likely result in the outcome of the court case.

Most SEO contracts probably do not offer a fine set of ranking promises. They probably do offer deliverables such as ranking reports on Mondays, SEO audit to be delivered to customer by a specific date, follow up with customer on another date and so on. But a requirement to rank the web site in position X is likely something you won't see in an SEO contract.

Even Google's own SEO advice says "No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google."

That being said, I am sure many SEO companies have been sued and will be sued in the future.

It is very important to give customers clear expectations to avoid being sued and then to protect yourself with a solid contract if you are indeed sued.

Do you think this client can sue his SEO successfully? Check the details out in the thread.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for gavel

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: January 25, 2013



01/28/2013 01:27 pm

Barry, Here in India, most of the SEO agencies works on "Guaranteed No. 1 Ranking on Google" & it is because the client over here wants keywords to be on ranking because they think or know that SEO means *getting keyword ranking on 1st page of Google* We are currently dealing with one of the SEO agencies & we've a contract of "Ranking of particular keywords within a given set of time." And whether you believe or not they are pretty much getting the result. It is very rare that you'll find SEO services other than ranking like for increasing traffic or sales. P.S Not all SEO companies here are into this stuff. It is just few who wants to earn quick buck.

seo company india

01/28/2013 03:13 pm

Yes i agree no body can guarantee for NO.1 ranking but if any seo company promises to get top 10 ranking then this is acceptable.Each company should include money back policy if they unable to get ranking according to contract.

Ranu Jain

01/28/2013 04:33 pm

Gone are the days when ranking a keyword was like shooting fish in a barrel. With Google's major updates “Guaranteed Rankings” are too good to be true. No good company would guarantee the rankings. Many clients do not understand whether the keyword is popular or not, they just want the rankings. And later they say there is no spike in traffic and sales despite of ranking for that key term. I would say that all these things should be cleared before the start of the project. I am sure this will definitely decrease the SUE rate!!

Martin Harris

01/28/2013 05:01 pm

Too many SEO's leave themselves liable for big law suits. This is why it is important you sit down with the client (pre contract) and give them a nice hard reality slap to the face, no quick fixes, just gradual, steady improvement.... If i don't show this, then, that's all on me. But If i show results and they don't pay, then that's on them...it's that simple.

James Holden

01/28/2013 05:05 pm

This entirely depends on the terms of the contract, so it would be difficult to comment on this individual case. If he has written guarantees he may succeed but remember there are always two sides to these disputes. I have first-hand experience in that we have successfully sued a client for not paying. We were not counter-sued but their defence was based partly their assertion that we didn't deliver, which of course we did and easily demonstrated so. We were backed up by a good contract, which states (amongst the usual blah) that: * We don't guarantee rankings * Search engines may make algorithm changes for which we are not responsible * The client must implement, or allow us to implement, our recommendations * We are not liable for actions by 3rd parties, such as spammy user submitted content, web developers rolling back changes * We must be told about anything which may affect the rankings, such as changing hosts, site performance issues * We can only do is possible within the budget provided * Our liability is limited to the fees paid, not to consequential loss/damages That all said, they'd mainly tried to get out on the grounds that the company had gone bust. However, it had started up again under a different incorporated name with the same owners, trading name, staff and premises. Because the CEO hadn't signed the contract in the company name, the court held him personally liable and we won in full with costs.


01/28/2013 11:27 pm

Everyone who knows business knows that marketing strategies are not guaranteed to bring more business. If I put up a billboard in a very visible area on a major interstate and it didn't generate more business for me, would I contact the advertising company demanding a refund? No. I would sue them? Hell no. It's one thing for an SEO company to take a customers money and not deliver a single thing and another thing for them to take a customers money, work their asses off and have minimal success. Maybe the customer came to them with a penalty the company wasn't able to overcome. Maybe they never implemented site opt. Maybe they killed the pages that were attracting links and failed to 301 redirect. In any SEO campaign, there are a lot of variables to success and flat out suing an SEO company for not delivering results is ludicrous,, unless they truly sat back and didn't do anything.

Sam Dogen

01/29/2013 02:01 am

Why not just write good content instead of hire an SEO?


01/29/2013 12:25 pm

for an industry that charges so much, it is ridiculous not to have any kind of guarantee. If an SEO charges $3000 a small business owner for link building campaign and says there is no guarantee, excuse me but I don't buy it. Even worse, what if, after link building campaign, a site gets penalized by Google. I would say lawsuit is a very real possibility, yes.


01/29/2013 12:27 pm

with these rules, you have no liability at all.


01/29/2013 04:32 pm

Total joke, I believe its legit if you don't deliver the links, content, etc. But to me this is like a no brainer, sounds like something a small business should have done there research on or listened to first, get a clue.

Jimmy Maddox

01/30/2013 04:02 pm

I agree. if an SEO is negligent and your site gets hit ( I know of one ) after you've spent $10K a month, uh yeah I'd want some answers. This one website I know of paid big bucks for SEO and I guess the company they hired got over zealous and did some black hat. But again its hard to prove. Software programs like website auditor can help see the mess. But its too late. I dont do a lot of backlink building as I used too but when I do hire help I understand it is a risk....Just like advertising.


03/16/2013 05:23 am

Which company is that?

Kelly Hansen822

04/02/2014 06:30 am

I would say that all these things should be cleared before the start of the project.It is very rare that i 'll find SEO services other than ranking like for increasing traffic or sales...It's very helpful for my seo agency site..


07/05/2014 10:48 pm


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