Top 5 legal speed humps facing SEO providers.

14 February 2020 | Reading time: 2 minutes

With the continued emergence of e-commerce as the dominant way to conduct and attract new business, the search engine optimisation (SEO) industry is enjoying a significant period of growth.

The most common legal issues faced by online e-commerce businesses, including SEO providers, include those relating to:

  1. trade marks;
  2. privacy;
  3. copyright;
  4. enforceability of contracts; and
  5. protection of online presence.

1. Trade marks.

Registering a trade mark over your name, symbol and logo is an essential step in protecting your business and brand against infringements of your intellectual property by competitors. For online businesses, their intellectual property (eg branding) is often the single most valuable component of the business. It is therefore important to ensure you have properly and effectively secured your intellectual property by creating and updating your trade mark portfolio.

2. Privacy.

With the recent amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Act), privacy should be a paramount concern for any SEO business. Information shared by consumers, such as personal information, business details and credit card information must be kept secure. Accordingly, all SEO providers must have a robust privacy policy coupled with a comprehensive data breach notification policy. Given the prevalence of identity theft and online hacking, SEO providers should take care to comply with the Act to ensure they are not liable for any privacy related issues.

3. Copyright.

While building customer websites and promoting their businesses, it is important not to expose yourself to legal action due to use of someone else’s trademarked or copyrighted information or images. While this may seem obvious, it is an issue often confronted by SEO providers.

4. Enforceability of contracts.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission closely monitors the fairness of contracts and governs unfair contract terms. Indeed, many ‘standard contracts’ have recently been called into question with key clauses held to be unenforceable. It is therefore vital that customer contracts are carefully drafted to protect their enforceability. Furthermore, SEO providers should also be aware of their legal obligations to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law to avoid severe legal penalties.

5. Managing reviews and protecting your online presence.

In today’s technological age, ‘keyboard trolls’ and negative reviews can have a profound impact on a business’ reputation. While it is impossible to silence all critics, some reviews tend to be ‘below the belt’ and may in certain circumstances give rise to a potential legal claim. It is therefore important that SEO businesses know their rights when it comes to protecting their online presence and their reputation.

6. Slow down – speed bumps ahead.

As with any players in a relatively young industry, it is important that SEO providers consider and prepare for the legal issues they are likely to encounter along the journey. The Bespoke team can assist you and your business so you can focus on your area of expertise – SEO.