Do You Link To Your Search Engine Optimization Company?

WebmasterWorld reignited an old debate on whether search engine optimization companies should ask their clients to give them a link back on their site. A lot of people go back and forth on this topic, but for me, the dangers far outweigh the positives on this one.

Google’s guidelines state that clients should never be required to link to their search engine optimization company. Clearly, that’s true and obvious. But is it okay for an optimization company to ask for a link back?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it; I just find it incredibly tacky. It you’re an SEO company worth your fee, are you really going to get a boost from that link? Do you really want to start acquiring links from every site you’ve worked on? It’s somewhat sad if you’re an optimization company getting your rankings in part by “asking” all of your clients to link to you.

And don’t pretend that’s not why you’re doing it. It is. It’s not like visitors to the site are going to go, wow, that site is ranking well. I wonder if I can get the number for their SEO? That’s ridiculous. [And even if they are, they’re probably the competition and the site owner won’t want them to know who did the SEO work.–Susan]

Ultimately, it’s the client’s site. They’re the ones in control of it so it’s their decision. If they want to link to their optimization company, they’ll link to it. If they want to link to their Web design company, they’ll link to it. If they want to link to their father’s fishing site, they’ll link to it. It’s a non-issue in that regard. The only thing I do worry about are the ramifications that may come from that link being there.

What happens if either the site or the search engine optimization company decides to go renegade? If your name is on a site’s Web site when they decide to ignore your advice and spam their site to hell, you become a spammer by association.

On the other side, if an SEO company decides to fulfill its lifelong dream of becoming a dirty black hat while you’re blindly linking out to them, your credibility is tainted by that affiliation. It’s not that people will judge you by who your friends are, it’s just that they so totally do.

There was also some talk in the WebmasterWorld thread that if a visitor sees that you hired a search engine optimization company, it may plant a seed that perhaps you don’t really deserve your rankings. You’re just there because you know what the engines want, not because people actually trust you. I think there’s some truth to that. It’s like when your friend gets a promotion and then find out she’s secretly been hanging out with her boss after hours. You know what I’m talking about. It raises eyebrows and people’s cars end up getting keyed.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (4)
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4 Replies to “Do You Link To Your Search Engine Optimization Company?”

Always nice to know how expert’s would work.


I see your point – however what about web design companies who are also SEO’s?

I use a link on client sites not for a backlink, but to allow viewers to click through if they are pleased with the website and are seeking a design company… business referral.

I am fully white-hat and I don’t see this as tacky at all – many designers do this.

In my opinion, you are too much concerned about the SEO factor of the backlink. In the world of WWW this is some kind of a reference. It means something like “Hey, I like my website very much and this company did it so well”. Or in the context of SEO “You see how high we rank in Google? It’s because of that’s company’s hard and committed work!”. As in a print copy, you are most likely to find the coordinates of the design studio and the printer etc., it is the same in the web. With the only one difference – In the WWW it’s faster and far more comfortable to be reached via a hyperlink than from a telephone number. Don’t you think?
Moreover, in some cases that is stated in the contract and people don’t beg for a backlink. They are aware of it from the very beginning.

I see both sides of the issue. Obviously SEO’s want to increase their workflow (not to mention their cashflow) so they want links back to them. In reality though, it is incredibly tacky and I personally would never hire an SEO who would require a link to them. I also completely agree with your last paragraph how people wouldn’t really trust your ranking if you have some ad/link for an SEO on your site. Just my two cents, thanks for sharing!!


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