Demaestro - 7:09 pm on Mar 22, 2010 (gmt 0) [edited by: Demaestro at 7:11 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2010]
Something else to consider is not if they are a competitor but if they represent a competitor.
Of course there is room for more than 1 company in the top 3 results so to say they can't get you both there is not true but how much of the work you are paying them to do for you are they transferring over to your competitor?
They only need to do keyword research once, same with all the other things that need investigating.
When it comes to disclosure I agree that it should be done and it can be done without revealing a client name.
If you wanted SEO in Maid services and you went to a company, they should tell you if they have a client they are already doing placement for in that industry. No privacy issues there at all.
I use this example because this happened to me 3 months ago for a cleaning service. Before meeting with the new client I contacted my original client and told them I had a meeting with a competitor and asked if they had a problem with that. They said no. Then at the meeting with the new client the first thing I told them was that I did this work for their competitor as well. They were fine with it, but I think me telling them made them feel like they could trust me. I even said to them that I wouldn't reuse work I did for them for anyone else and vise versa.
They had me to some really basic restructuring of their HTML and they did the content based on NEW research I did for them.
Both are happy and both know they can trust me, and that is more important then retaining 1 client.
[edited by: Demaestro at 7:11 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2010]