Editor’s Note: This story, first published on July 23, 2018, has been updated to reflect a legal settlement.
BrioDigital, a search engine optimization firm, and NestEdge Realty of Chappaqua, have settled a dispute that illustrates the vagaries of SEO practices.
NestEdge had sued BrioDigital for $1 million, July 16 in Westchester Supreme Court, claiming that the internet firm’s work was done so poorly that it negated any benefits.
But Theresa Davidson, owner and founder of BrioDigital, said the problem actually originated with a faulty Google platform.
Both sides recently agreed to discontinue the lawsuit and settle up on fees, according to court documents, with NestEdge paying $5,000 to BrioDigital for SEO services and BrioDigital paying back $1,150 for pay-per-click advertising services.
The lawsuit was filed by NestEdge’s parent company, LMS Strategies Inc., and principals Matthew E. Gluck, Harvey T. Gluck and Leny Davidson.
NestEdge’s claim to fame is that it offers low commissions to sellers and commission rebates to buyers.
BrioDigital, based in Purchase, describes itself as a digital market expansion firm.
NestEdge hired BrioDigital in May for search engine marketing and optimization services. It wanted the firm, for example, to fine-tune key words, meta tags and content to achieve high search results and website rankings. Less than a week later, it hired BrioDigital to provide pay-per-click advertising services.
The contracts totaled $3,650 a month.
NestEdge disputed the payments in June, claiming that BrioDigital had failed to provide the services.
It alleged, for instance, that content submitted to search engines had such poor grammar that “consumers viewing the advertisements would call into question NestEdge’s competency.”
The advertisements allegedly used terminology unrelated to the realty industry and mixed up messages aimed at buyers and sellers.
What happened, Theresa Davidson said, is that NestEdge wrote the ads and BrioDigital placed them on Google. But the platform had been updated and was inserting nonsensical symbols and parts of other ads into NestEdge’s material.
She said email correspondence with Google supported her story, but a NestEdge official found it hard to believe that Google could have made such a mistake.
NestEdge got American Express to reverse $6,000 in payments, she said, but the credit card company restored the charges after examining the contract and Google correspondence.
NestEdge also claimed that Jeff Jackson, a California debt collector, tried to bully the company into paying $31,150 in fees. Jackson, who is not personally named as a defendant in the case, allegedly threatened to attack their real estate licenses by disclosing false information about their creditworthiness.
“The debt collector went overboard,” Theresa Davidson said. “He sent emails that were not preapproved by us, demanding $30,000 in immediate payments. Just very bad.”
BrioDigital no longer uses the bill collector.
NestEdge had asked the court to declare the contract invalid and unenforceable. The Glucks and Leny Davidson had demanded $1 million for emotional distress and harm to their reputations.
BrioDigital was also concerned about reputation.
“This is the first time my company has had anything negative like this written about us,” Theresa Davidson said.
“We are a reputable company,” she said. “We’ve been in business since 2005 and we have very happy, satisfied clients.”