Dear Kalena (and Jacqueline in this case),
Are there any issues with an SEO company taking on clients that are competitors? Who will get ranked highest and is strategic marketing info passed on to competitors?
In my opinion, an ethical SEO company has no place taking on clients that are in direct competition, like two businesses that are targeting the exact same market with the same keywords. Furthermore, a trustworthy SEO company definitely wouldn’t pass any strategic information on to competitors – look up a company before you work with them, and be sure to go past the first page or two of results. After all, an SEO firm probably knows how to push anything negative down in the SERPs, but they can’t make that stuff disappear completely.
For SEOs and search marketers themselves, taking on two clients that are direct competitors can lead to many ethical quandaries, so therefore, each client’s chosen keywords and even a non-compete clause should be written into your contracts. You should always protect yourself legally – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in that regard.
If you are planning on working with an SEO firm and you are concerned about that same company working with competitors, ask them about their confidentiality practices and such before you sign anything; if you are an SEO consultant wondering about dealing with two clients that compete, consider the differences between those clients. Are they really that similar, to the point where they would go after the exact same keywords? Do they have different specialties or do they operate in different neighborhoods? If your potential clients are two distinctive companies in the same industry, it is possible to still work with them ethically if you target separate keywords and focus on their differences (and of course, if you keep everything confidential).
Best of luck!