It was bound to happen, an SEO company has been sued for allegedly providing, shall we say, less than then stellar search engine optimization results for their clients, clients who just happen to be law firms. I’m sure you can all guess where this is going.
The Rainmaker Institute provides search engine marketing and optimization for law firms. They market it through their retreats, seminars, books, CDs, etc. Oh and in case you missed it, their footer also declares “Marketing Provider For Law Firms. Law Firm Internet Marketing. Law Firm Marketing Plans”. You know, just in case you have any questions about what they did, or more specifically, just to make sure Google really knows they do Internet marketing for law firms. And on their site map, again they clearly think Google can’t figure out what they’re doing and what they should be ranking them for, because of the bottom of the page again in little tiny print is “Attorney marketing plan, Civil rights attorneys marketing, Corporate lawyer marketing, Injury lawyer marketing,Iinternet marketing for lawyer, Law firm internet marketing, Law firm marketing plans, Legal marketing services, Lawyer marketing, Marketing for attorneys, Marketing for lawyers ,Law firm internet marketing, Legal marketing services, Law firm marketing plan, Marketing a law firm, Small law firm marketing”. Clearly the sign of an SEO company I’d want working on any of my sites… NOT. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I checked a few of the super important keyword phrases and The Rainmaker Institute is nowhere to be found anywhere near the top of Google’s search results.
First of all, if you are a search engine optimization company and you are targeting law firms and knowing how many lawsuits law firms file, if I was offering them SEOs services, I would be pretty darn confident that what I was offering was going to help their search rankings, was not against Google guidelines, and wasn’t get their sites banned or penalized with Google. But, apparently not.
The lawsuit shows that The Rainmaker Institute was providing link building as well as content. So the links were allegedly garbage, and the filing implies that they are coming from either blog spam or very poor quality blogs. So they definitely weren’t finely crafted and coming from your high-end, high trafficked blogs that Google had a lot of trust in. And not only that, the SEOs company continued to build the spamming links, knowing that Google had been penalizing these types of links (hence the fact it is a RICO lawsuit).
Then they also provided content services, where they were providing original content for law firms to place on their blogs. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there content wasn’t all that exclusive, and was republished on the multiple of their client sites. Now it’s true, this probably goes on the lots, and a lot of companies don’t actually go and check to see if someone else has published that same article they paid for elsewhere after the fact. In fact, that is what they’re hoping, so that they can continue to resell the same article and not have to hire someone to write something new. It’s the easy way to do it, providing known as actually looking and checking.
But aside from what the rainmaker Institute did or didn’t do, you have to consider the fact that this is opening up a slippery slope. In the past, shoddy SEO companies simply got a bad rep, sometimes found themselves bounced from Google for what they did for clients (such as the whole iAquire affair last year) but there are always more clients out there who could be tricked by flashy sales pitch, who aren’t familiar enough with the industry to know the things they should look at when hiring in a SEO company.
Do you need to be worried about being sued for bad SEO? Well, if you are not producing hot results, it’s definitely should be a big concern, especially if this turns into a hot coffee lawsuit where the defendants end up having to pay a bucket load of money to the former clients. Nothing gets people thinking about suing more than someone else getting a shit ton of money for the exact same thing. Hell, I know some people right now that would love to sue their former SEOs, although in some cases, I think they’d rather see them tarred and feathered in public, much like iAcquire was.
What if you are the one to have been screwed by a bad SEOs company? There could be money in it for not just suing for the price you paid for the SEO, but you could potentially make an argument for the loss of income related to the loss of rankings in Google or the outright banning Google. There could definitely be some money and that for someone who wants to take it on. Heck, if the company is big enough you could have a class-action lawsuit against a that SEO company that has duped a lot of clients. If you’re savvy enough, you can probably make more money than you ever would’ve made if the site had number one rankings for whatever fancy term you want to rank for.
Do you think SEOs who are doing incredibly spammy SEO in the name of Google rankings should be sued? Would you advise clients to sue former SEOs, when you’re trying to clean up the mess left behind? Or should it be not doing your due diligence in researching a company before you hire them to mess with your website baby. Or do you think a public shaming like iAcquire is better, because I know many people who would love to see some specific SEOs companies hung out to dry.