After almost hiring a company to help with traffic generation to a site, it came to my attention that they were, in fact, a competitor that is operating sites on relevant topics.
This caught me off guard, at first, but, then I started thinking: how would one know/claim to be proficient in SEO unless they owned a relevant site in the first place?
I've reached a point where I am wondering if the hiring of an SEO company could easily wind up being a competitor in disguise. It took a while before the SEO company was ultimately determined to be in direct competition. I could release/expose their name, but have chosen not to...for several reasons (including the TOS on WebmasterWorld).
Should I eliminate SEO firms from consideration in the future? I enjoy the research that I perform in order to help other people, yet trying to figure out who to trust with regard to increased traffic...I don't enjoy that aspect very much...