What are the potential risks and liabilities for running a freelance client SEO consultation business?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are the potential risks and liabilities for running a freelance client SEO consultation business?

I have been looking into the idea of starting a freelance SEO and online marketing consulting business. An associate of mine has worked for a company that provided SEO consultation for clients before, and he says that it’s very risky. He said that, if a company hires you as a consultant and tasks you with optimizing their websites and improving their business exposure online, then that company goes under, they are able to sue you. He also said that they can sue your for privacy infringement for when you’re initially reaching out to them as a lead. What are the actual risks of running an SEO and online marketing consultation business? Can I actually be sued if a company goes under while they are my client? Can I actually be sued for privacy infringement for reaching out to them using the info they have put online?

Asked on January 3, 2017 under Business Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is nothing illegal, and no invasion of privacy, about or for contacting someone, especially using information they put out there in the public (e.g. on the web).
You could only be sued successfully if you committed fraud, breached the terms of your contract, or willfully or negligently did something which harmed them (e.g. somehow caused search results for them to take searchers to a porn site, thereby damaging their reputation and business.) You are not legally responsible for business failures which are not your fault, unless you had made yourrself liable under the terms of a guaranty you offered. It's possible a disgruntled customer would try to sue you if their business failed, since anyone can file almost any lawsuit, but they would not win unless they could show that you were at fault in some way, lied to them (fraud), or breached your contract.

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