Don’t Keep Your SEO Partner a Secret

I had a long flight out the West Coast this week that gave me some time to think. One thing that popped into my mind is how all of us feel additional pressure when we know someone is watching us. That’s why we drive the speed limit when the State Trooper is behind us on the highway.

Mike King at LinkLove

Mike King at LinkLove London – photo via

In the strange world of SEO, most companies hide the fact that they are involved with an SEO agency. What got me thinking about is was watching my friend Mike King on Twitter. Mike is a constant presence on social media and is connected to a lot of people.

Mike is a well-respected SEO working for a well-respected SEO agency. They have well-respected clients, although they are no doubt under NDA with most if not all of them. Why?

I understand that in the bad-old-days that there were SEO agencies that did things to help their clients that went against Google’s guidelines, but all of the good agencies are now more aligned with the guidelines.

Am I being Naive?

If I hired Mike I would constantly be telling people. I would make it as public as I could so that Mike would feel that extra social pressure to prove he’s as good as his reputation is. I would do a press release the day I signed on with iAcquire laying out our agreed upon expectations.

I respect the opinion of others in the SEO industry like Russ Jones and Michael Gray that remind me that Google should not be trusted. Like the line from the 2006 movie The Departed about how the Boston PD felt about the FBI, “they’re like mushrooms, feed ‘em shit and keep ‘em in the dark”.

I think of all the goodwill I’ve tried to build up in the years I’ve been helping organize the Raleigh SEO Meetup. If a friend from that group asks for my help, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they are satisfied. I would hate to be the guy who talks a good game but can’t actually move the needle.

It’s too bad that most SEO agencies have to hide in the shadows. It is starting to change and I hope that I can find allies to help me make this change happen even quicker.


  1. I think companies are just concerned with customers getting the wrong impression. Many people don’t even know what SEO is. Some people only know a little bit about seo and probably think it’s some type of taboo scheme that only shady businesses pursue. Especially when you have Matt Cutts out there talking only about Viagra and diet pills and what not to do.

  2. That’s true Phil. I just read this article on the big seo subreddit and it reminded me of this post. I would check it out. One reason why I may keep my clients a secret is because of the negative seo tactic that is currently working for other people. It’s something to think about if you are a freelance seo working with brands in a competitive city.

    • For small local business I agree that negative SEO can work, but it’s still a lot of resources that could be better spent since the spend to negative SEO all the things would require an infinite budget.

      I’ve been talking to a lot of high authority media outlets lately who are no longer running away screaming when I talk to them about monetizing their linking strategy. Now they listen and say it would probably never happen… I think we’re actually very close to having cash strapped traditional outlets start smart linking for “clients”. To me, that’s the immediate future for high-quality link builders. That seems a better choice to me than negative SEO.

  3. Seo this days is becoming to complicated for the average Joe, I mean there is so much buzz around this subject that it has sent some companies packing out of the internet world, for me it does not have to be complicated. At times I do think do I really need the search engines before I can get my content out there. There is a lot untold..

  4. We don’t reveal our clients, only because they sometimes think of us as a concealed weapon. It’s just… what we’ve always done.

    To defend that, some companies are so competitive they will notice SEO activity, look into it, and track down a strategy or two that might otherwise go unnoticed. Case in point – I learned of a “lazy SEO” strategy a client’s competitor was doing by tracking down their SEO team and seeing a blog post about it. They basically put the playbook out there, to our benefit. We layered a smarter strategy and process on top of it.

    But on the other hand, I have to say, “social pressure” could be a good thing to help that subsection of “lazy” SEO.

    Interesting point you’ve raised.

  5. The recent changes in link building and SEO are very important for users. You can get some useful points from the new developments. It is time to start doing some serious work and stop making excuses. The changes gave me the encouragement I needed.

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