To Clients And SEO Agencies Just Getting Started: Should You Keep Your Partnership a Secret?

November 28, 2013 Amanda DiSilvestro

Now that SEO is becoming more and more crucial to the success of a business, SEO agencies are popping up left and right along with advice regarding how to choose the right agency. Many companies choose to hire an expert to work in-house, but companies that are growing tend to put their trust in an agency. And so, after all that hard work choosing the right one, discussing your goals, and coming up with a long-term strategy, you will surely be faced with this question: Should I tell anyone who my SEO partner is, or is that something I’m supposed to keep secret? If you’re an SEO agency, you are faced with the same question when thinking about all of your new clients: Does it matter if anyone knows who my client is?

As it turns out, there isn’t a whole lot of information answering this question. It seems that many in the industry have made this information public, but are we just not hearing about others because they’re kept secret? Time to weigh the pros and cons.

From a Client’s Perspective: Keeping Your SEO Agency Partner a Secret

The Pros

You won’t be helping your competition. If you’ve found a gem of an SEO agency, you don’t necessarily want others in your same niche gaining their help. After all, you worked hard to find that agency and not all agencies are equal in all niches. It wasn’t easy, so why give competition information they don’t really need?

Sometimes a client doesn’t want their own customers knowing that they are using a third party SEO agency because it might make it seem like they’re not as amazing as that customer thought they were. It’s pretty rare for a customer to see SEO as “tricking” anyone (very rare, actually), but some company owners might feel this way, which makes keeping an SEO agency partnership secret a big pro.

Aside from these points, there isn’t much reason that you as a company owner should care if anyone knows you’re using an SEO agency, which brings us to the cons list.

The Cons

If you keep a partnership a secret, the agency doesn’t feel the pressure. It’s a good idea to let the world know who your agency is so that they can feel the pressure of the public. They want more clients, so if they know that you are helping spread the word about their company, you’re going to matter even more. They’ll want you to spread positive messages, not negative ones.

From an Agency Perspective: Keeping Your SEO Clients a Secret

Ultimately this question should be put into the hands of the client. If he/she/they want to be kept a secret, keep them a secret. This is essentially a “the customer is always right” situation, and if you, the agency, tries to do something different, you might lose business. The only time it makes sense for an agency to put its foot down and ask a client to not tell anyone they are working together is if the client works in a taboo or controversial niche.

What’s very interesting is the fact that agencies typically don’t say anything unless they have to say something. They don’t mind if a client tells someone else that they are working together, but it’s not common practice to give up that information willingly. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.

Taboo Reasons an SEO Agency Might Want to Keep Clients a Secret

It’s worth noting that sometimes SEO agencies want to keep their clients a secret for taboo reasons, so it’s something to look out for when you’re working with someone. There are a few different reasons that might be cause for concern:

  • Because they are using black hat SEO tactics and don’t want to get caught. In other words, they’re probably doing you more harm than good. This isn’t overly common, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.
  • Oftentimes an agency will want to keep their clients a secret so that their competition doesn’t try to steal you as a client (I know what you’re thinking—shouldn’t I want other agencies to try and offer me something better? The answer is YES).
  • This is the typical practice for SEO agencies, so they could be using the “if they can do it we can do it too” mentality. With this in mind, agencies that fall under this category might be up for negotiation.

In the end, it’s always best to work with your agency to determine what is right for your business. In most cases, it seems that the verdict is to not bother trying to keep your SEO partnership a secret, but as always, you might be the exception.

What do you think about the whole idea of keeping an SEO partnership a secret? Is this a situation you’ve been faced with in the past? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice raging from keyword research to local SEO strategy. She is the online content editor and lead writer for Higher Visibility, a nationally recognized SEO company that offers a wide range of SEO services to companies across the country.

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