SEO Expert Witness

SEO Expert Witness  David Reid

Disputes normally arise when a client suffers a drop in Google rankings or incurs a Google penalty (Google manual action), resulting in a decrease in their web traffic and sales.

In other scenarios, a client may feel their SEO agency has failed to deliver satisfactory results and will seek to recover damages in terms of fees paid and loss of potential earnings.

In such cases, David will act as an independent SEO Expert Witness on behalf of the client or agency. He will review any relevant contracts, consider if SEO activities were performed in accordance with Google guidelines and verify the outcome or results.

David will determine if the agency followed best practices and were competent in the delivery of SEO, or if they were negligent in their duties and therefore were in breach of contract.


SEO Litigation Cases

David will act as an independent SEO expert witness on behalf of the claimant or defender, or as a joint party expert.

He is comfortable in discussing cases with solicitors and Counsel and is also capable of explaining SEO techniques in layman’s terms, in order to successfully present the evidence to those involved.

Furthermore, he will accept instructions from UK legal firms and from other English speaking countries and will comply with the respective country law.


Disputes Relating To Google SEO

In previous litigation cases in which David has assisted, certain disputes have centred on the SEO agency’s compliance with Google webmaster guidelines at a particular point in time.

Google provides a set of guidelines which are deemed best practice or “white hat” techniques. These guidelines are often updated to combat “black hat” SEO techniques. Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in a partial loss of organic web traffic or a total loss.

The key to a successful claim or defence is to determine if the SEO agency complied with the relevant set of guidelines over time and then minimised the risk by retrospectively adhering to any updated guidelines.


Are you a client seeking an expert witness?

Has your SEO agency not delivered the results they promised they would? or has your website been penalised by Google? - resulting in your business suffering losses.

David will act as your independent SEO expert witness to support your claim for damages against the agency.

He will produce a comprehensive liability report to assist your claim. As part of his duties he will:

  • Review any relevant contracts between both parties;
  • Consider the effectiveness of the SEO strategy produced by the agency;
  • Audit link building activities by focussing on the quality of the links, their source and their compliance with search engine guidelines;
  • Review on-page optimisation, including the appropriate use of content and any technical issues;
  • Deep dive into Google Analytics (or similar analytical packages), Google Search Console and Bing webmaster tools;
  • Consider the SEO performance against the rollout of Google updates;
  • Review competitors SEO activities;
  • Consider the appropriate use of other marketing channels such as paid advertising, social media and email marketing;
  • Investigate if the agency’s actions resulted in your website suffering from a Google penalty;
  • Review evidence produced by you and/or a 3rd party consultant;
  • Evaluate the tactics employed against industry best practices and the standards expected of a competent marketer; and
  • Consider the cause and effect of the losses contained within the quantum.
David will provide assistance to you throughout the duration of your claim. If required, he will review the opponents expert witness report before producing a supplementary report.

He will also attend joint party meetings of experts and attend court on your behalf.


Are you a SEO agency owner?

Has a client has raised a pre-action or lodged an action against you? You will need to act fast to protect any evidence in order to defend yourself.

David has been an executive board member of global marketing agencies and now operates his own agency. He is well versed in performing SEO activities on behalf of clients and understands the challenges this can sometimes bring.

David has helped defend SEO agencies in previous disputes and is aware of the typical approach a clients’ expert will adopt to prove their claim.

By applying his experience of operating an SEO agency and his knowledge gained in previous SEO related litigation claims, he will act as an independent SEO expert witness to present evidence to help you counter the claim.

He is also experienced in reviewing quantum reports to identify any inaccuracies.

For example, in a recent SEO dispute concerning multiple Google manual actions (Google penalties), David’s research uncovered that one particular website, which the pursuer alleged had suffered over £800k of loses, was in fact not penalised by Google.

This fact was not identified by either parties’ forensic accountants or the pursuer’s independent search engine optimisation expert. As a result, David helped the defender reduce this particular claim by over £800k.


CPR Part 35 Compliant Reports

Expert witness reports written by David are Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) compliant. He understands his overriding duty is to the Court and will exercise reasonable skill and care in preparing evidence and when producing his report for submission.

His reports typically contain:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Independence Statement
  • Sources of Information
  • Case Background
  • Technical Explanations
  • Report Overview
  • Responses to Questions / Responses to Opponents Report
  • Summary & Conclusions
  • Expert Declaration & Statement of Truth
  • Appendix I – David Reid CV
  • Appendix II – List of Documents Reviewed

In the event that a supplementary report is required to address any challenges by the opponent, David will respond appropriately.


Duty To The Court

David fully understands that he has a duty to exercise reasonable skill and care when acting as an SEO Expert Witness and that his overriding duty is to assist the Court.

He acknowledges that he may be required to provide oral evidence during court proceedings as part of his duties, and this may extend to hot-tubbing with the opponents expert witness at trial.

Joint Party Meetings

In the event that the Court instructs a joint meeting of SEO expert witnesses, David has experience of attending such meetings and is aware of the required actions:

  1. To discuss the issues on which both experts agree;
  2. To discuss the issues on which the experts disagree and the reasons for said disagreements; and
  3. To produce a joint statement summarising the points above.


Background & SEO Experience

As an active marketer in the SEO industry for the past 20 years, David continually keeps abreast of the latest techniques and compliance requirements. He believes it is important to secure an experienced and active SEO practitioner to assist with your claim or defence.

David has knowledge of the standards expected of an SEO marketer, his experience includes:

  • Acted as lead consultant to reverse a Google Penguin penalty for a £60 million pa travel group and provided evidence that the incumbent agency had been at fault;

  • Provided expert advice to detect and then recover a Google Panda penalty for an international retailer with eCommerce websites trading in the UK, Ireland and Europe;

  • Prepared supporting evidence in “Google EU right to be forgotten” cases for spent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974; and

  • Acted as lead advisor to protect the identity of an individual accused of rape from being exposed on Google before trial. The accused was later cleared of all charges.

He has also held executive board positions in companies operating in cyber security, financial data analysis, digital marketing and IT consultancy.


Indemnity Insurance

David appreciates the obligation of accepting a Letter of Instruction to act as an SEO Expert Witness and that immunity offered by courts is not absolute.

To provide a degree of reassurance to the parties involved, he is insured by Hiscox to undertake and produce independent search engine optimisation expert witness reports.


Contact David Reid

To speak with David in relation to an SEO dispute you have, please call 07710 482267.

You can also contact him by email on david@davidreid.info – please provide a brief overview of the case in your email. Any details disclosed will remain confidential.


SEO Expert Witness Definition

An SEO Expert Witness is often also known as a Search Engine Optimisation Expert Witness or an Internet Expert Witness. 

One of their tasks is to analyse the historical search engine optimisation (SEO) activities performed by a marketing agency to determine if they were negligent or not.

The independent SEO expert will review evidence to form their own opinion on whether the agency complied with Google guidelines, if industry best practices were adhered to and the account was competently managed, or if the marketing agency was negligent in performing their duties or not.

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