This case involves a successful online retailer of camping and outdoor equipment that hired a computer company to do a multi-year upgrade of its website. The retailer’s website was based on a comprehensive software solution made by a major computer software manufacturing corporation. The computer company entered into a contract, properly witnesses by a public notary, with the retailer to upgrade its website platform and also upgrade the search engine optimization (SEO) on its website. The computer company was supposed to add a highly-scalable, secure, high-quality enterprise search product to the website. This product would allow the retailer to have internal guided navigation on its website and would have data analytics tools that would offer the retailer a deep and detailed understanding of how users utilized the website’s features and how users navigated within the site. When the website was scheduled to be completed, the retailer found that the computer company was understaffed and could not take any steps to optimize search on the site. The retailer spent over $1 million on the upgrade but the computer company did not implement any SEO best practices for retail marketing. The new website produced many shopping cart errors and store debit card processing errors and caused the retailer to have a drop off in sales and traffic to the website. The retailer sued the computer company for breach of contract, fraud, and misrepresentation.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Can an online retailer sue a computer company for breach of contract if the computer company fails to complete a website upgrade for the retailer and fails to use best SEO practices in upgrading the retailer’s website?
Expert Witness Response
The computer company probably is guilty of breach of contract and misrepresentation in this case because they probably failed to edit the content and HTML and associated coding to both increase the relevance of the retailer’s website to specific keywords and remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. This would have constituted a proper SEO upgrade. For the computer company to have properly done an upgrade on a consumer retail website like this one, they would have had to do several things. First, they would have had to upload new, flattened URLs which are web page addresses that are better suited for searching than the ones that the retailer probably had been using. Second, they would have had to create and implement an XML SiteMap, which could assist spiders that crawl the website in order to find pages for organic search engines. Third, they would have had to integrate tools that had a navigation plane for analysis of top search results using dynamic bar charts and a platform for constructing semantic search and content web analytics solutions and other tools that would allow the retailer to maximize efforts to reach and retain Internet customers.
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