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Conflict Of Interest To Do Seo For Similar Clients
Posted 11 October 2005 - 10:05 AM
I was psyched last week to see that my Elder Law Attorney client has achieved #1 through #5 rankings in Google for the keywords that I optimized his site for.
I received an e-mail last night from an Elder Lawyer in the same county who is interested in my services.
Is it a conflict of interest to optimize a website for 2 elder lawyers? I feel like I would have to disclose this to both clients. I think it would be fine to try to make both sites the best they can be, and being in the top ten is great, regardless if you're 3 or 4 or 10, but they may disagree about where my loyalties lay (or lie?? - never did know the difference).
It's not like I signed some exclusive agreement to only work for one Elder Law Attorney, but my current client is very competitive, and when he was ranked 5 for a certain phrase, he wanted to be #1.
What do you think?
Posted 11 October 2005 - 10:14 AM
I agree that there's nothing wrong with working to make two sites as good as they can be, but it becomes problematic when part of your job is getting site A to perform better than site B while getting site B to perform better than site A. You don't know where to draw the line in cases like that. Let's say you recommend to site A that they publish some articles, and recommend a particular subject based on your keyword research. Obviously, if your goal is to improve both sites, you want to give the same information to site B. Do you recommend a copywriter to both of them? Do you recommend the same copywriter, or do you have to find two writers of the same skill level in order to keep from playing favorites?
And when site A's owner thanks you for your work, but wonders aloud what it's going to take to beat site B, what do you tell them?
Posted 11 October 2005 - 10:19 AM
Doing SEO work for competing companies is similar do doing general web work... it depends on the industry and just how fiercely competitive they are. I find it best, where possible to let my existing clients know of the potential new client and I find that works out better than saying nothing.
In one case though, I resisted the temptation of working with a second player in an industry group because of the nature of that industry. I did the "right thing",informig the client that i declined providing services to the competitor. But it backfired as our main contact in the first firm changed companies and now i dont have any client in that industry.. doh. So I am now more careful in limiting myself to only one client in any one industry group, even if they are competitors.
With SEO in particular, client number 2 indirectly benefits from keyword research already done.
So as long as your are confident client 1 is not going to move service suppliers because of your "growth", do it.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 11:26 AM
That being said, we would never take on a new client in the same fields as an existing one if the existing client brought to our attention that such and such is a fierce competitor of theirs.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 12:59 PM
With 3, you are the specialist in that field.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 02:46 PM
I think it depends on what you're doing for them, too. If you're breaking your back going for #1 and you've got a client who's paying very highly for that, I wouldn't go for it. If, however, you're offering consulting and helping them fix up problems on their site and recommending a link here or there, it's not nearly as much of a conflict. At that point, you're basically helping both become better sites, rather than going head-on after the same limited space.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 02:56 PM
Depending on your relation with the client one should be open about it too. And if they disaprove they should give you some kind of compensation for it, (like a long term contract) unless you agreed exclusiveness in the beginning.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 03:52 PM
I see your point about just making improvements to both sites and not harming either's standing in relation to the other, but at least in my case, I often take on a client with a particular plan to perform certain tasks, and the list of services I provide to them grows over time as the site is improved and the level of trust they have with me increases. So I can foresee problems arising when I take on two competitors with the understanding that I won't do anything involving their competition, and then one or both of the projects begins to grow. I'd be turning down an established client at that point, and I don't want to do that.
I'm much more comfortable making sure I stay out of situations like that. Mind you, I don't have any problem with working on numerous sites within a particular niche. That makes perfect sense to me. But I won't work on direct competitors at the same time, even if they were to tell me not to worry about it.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 05:54 PM
Posted 11 October 2005 - 06:36 PM
If you hired the same advertising agency as your direct competitor did, and your profits went up 80%, you'd be pretty happy I suppose, until you found out that your competitor's profits went up 130% and the ad campaign won a few awards, the slogan got so much buzz that people used it as a greeting, and they started efforts to buy you out. Then that 80% jump might not seem too dandy.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 08:17 PM
Posted 11 October 2005 - 08:18 PM
I have just had the same issue come up - I have an existing long-term client who is a book author and workshop leader. I've done web site developement projects for him. We have talked about doing SEM for his site(s), but thus far, he hasn't had the budget....
Today I talked at length with a person in the same field who is interested in me doing SEM for her.
These two people know each other and are friendly. They aren't (as yet) direct competitors for specific keywords, because neither one has done the keyword research to find out which ones they should target. However, they are in the same "area", with some similarities in their offerings.
Right now, they don't even have specific competing products. (my long-term client is more advanced in their niche than the other, has a book out, and a formal program, etc.), while the potential client is wanting to move into that area.
The tricky part of this for me is, I can't actually know if they'd be competing for the exact same keywords (their field is a little bit "vague") - untill I do the research and analysis for them both (which takes a money commitment from them).
Any further advice or comments greatly appreciated!
Posted 11 October 2005 - 10:36 PM
So I guess this means you come down on my side of not being comfortable with working both sides of a competition. But in this particular case, it sounds like it's at least a friendly competition, and I don't know -- maybe that'll make a difference.
If I were in your shoes, I'd tell the established client that his friend is interested in having you do SEO for his/her site, and you wanted to see how he felt about it. And if necessary, you could bring up the fact that you've been waiting for him to get around to having you do some optimization, but now you've got an actual offer from someone else.
He may say that it's no problem, because they're friends, he may decide to have you SEO his site after all, and he may ask you not to work for someone else, even if they're a friend. If it's the latter, that leaves you with a decision to make.
Posted 11 October 2005 - 10:43 PM
I WOULD take what I've learned for a local client and optimize for those same terms in another area, but I'd never take on two competing for the same serps.
That's just me though...
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