I was recently chatting with an SEO at an agency about consulting, now that I am doing SEO audits and in-house SEO training, and he asked an odd question: "How do you talk to your clients about what they need, but not pass on too much SEO knowledge in the process?"
Gobsmacked, I choked… that is what a client is paying you for!
My response was to the tune of "I don't worry about it as a consultant because I offer so much great advice, I know they'll come back for more. And when I'm working as an in-house SEO, and sense this is happening, I drop the agency immediately. When I work with a good consultant to pick up work that I didn't have time for, they are very forthcoming with knowledge and insight for the project."
What amazes me is that this isn't an uncommon question/concern for some agencies. I am floored that an SEO agency fears that in one day of training or a few conversations with IT would give away too much knowledge – perhaps they don't have too much to offer in the first place!
If you sense your SEO agency is dodging your questions about SEO, drop them flat and find an SEO consultant who will pass along all the SEO knowledge you desire.