I've had 11 new clients this past month, each and every one (and current ones) ask how I get backlinks. I've told some the truth, a collection of high power/authority sites that we have access to (not saying I own/rent the domains). I've told others to fuck off and read the contract as it states that no SEO training/information will be given regarding this as a) all backlinks are freely available to view on Ahrefs (lol, blocked...which causes its own problems) and GWMT. I had one big client go digging and ended the contract on the spot - some royal invests in his company and there was too many board members to rub the wrong way was his reason the day after as he apologised about swearing and going mental at me the previous day.
Other clients I've told to just look at rankings/traffic and decide whether they want to continue from there.
What's mad is I've never had a client site penalised, apart from when web designers redirected their homepage and then to a non-existent page, and another for 100% duplicate content, both of which were nothing to do with me. I rely on clients so why would I do anything that would cause jeopardy to them. I get that they are wary and usually want to see links from the BBC/Telegraph (newspaper for nonUK people) but I've told them if they want those then their budget needs to go up 1000x what they pay me.
I get there's a lot of money, lives, jobs at risk and they're worried but what do you guys say?
If I was on the other end of the coin, I'd probably want to know as well, but hold them accountable if shit hits the fan (which my contract states....I'm fully-insured anyway so I don't care either way).
What do you guys say? Most of these are OK-sized companies (T/O £600k-5m)