12 Questions to Ask a Prospective Link Building or Contact Marketing Client

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If you’re an SEO/SEM/inbound marketing/content marketing agency that offers link building or content marketing services independent of other services (such as keyword research, a technical site audit, etc.), you’ve probably gotten an inquiry from someone who wants “link building” services but isn’t exactly sure what that entails.

Obviously, if a prospect has a very specific request (i.e. they know that they want X guest posts placed per month or Y articles created and promoted), that’s easy enough to figure out, but what if they have a list of target keywords they want to drive more traffic around, and they are asking for “link building” while expecting you, the vendor, to help them sort out what they need?

Questions You Can Ask to Help Structure a Link Building Proposal

There are some core questions we’ve found to be helpful in customizing a proposal for someone who is interested in link building services in one of two core areas:

  • Goals & Budget – There’s almost an infinite number of things you could potentially do for a site under the link building and content marketing “umbrellas.” By understanding the specific goals and budgetary constraints of the client, you can better comprehend the tactics that will help you get a desired result.
  • Internal Resources – Understanding what resources the potential client has available can help you determine which tactics will be possible and where you might be able to leverage existing internal assets to help the client achieve their goals while conserving budget.

Goals & Budget

  1. Are there any specific goals we should be aware of (i.e. you’d like to increase organic traffic by X% by Y date, or you’d like to rank well for the following terms, etc.)?
  2. How many different keywords and/or pages are you planning on targeting?
  3. Will the link building efforts be focused solely on your core site, or do you have microsites you’re also planning to target?
  4. Do you have an idea (even a range) of where you’d like to be in terms of budget?
  5. Is there anything we should know about current traffic levels, value per lead, or conversion rates as we’re evaluating the opportunity for you? For instance, if you’re converting traffic at 1%, and each lead is worth $10, then for us to be a profitable expense for you, you’ll need to get around 100 additional unique visitors for every $10 spent.

Internal Resources

  1. What sort of content resources do you have in-house? Do you have people who could write a blog post or an in-depth guide that would be compelling to writers/bloggers in your niche?
  2. Is there any content you have (PDFs, brochures, engaging videos, interesting charts, graphs, etc.) that is primarily informational that you haven’t previously promoted online? Some things we commonly find are really in-depth guides on topics that are in PDFs, but they haven’t been “pitched” to bloggers, or a tool or widget or calculator that you have on your site that you haven’t done a lot of promotion around, etc.
  3. Do you have any development resources in-house? Mainly, we want to know if there’s someone who would have the bandwidth to develop a free tool or widget.
  4. Do you have any graphic design resources in-house? One tactic we may want to leverage would be data visualizations (a.k.a. infographics). Is there someone who could execute on a design concept?
  5. Do you have any video content or the capability to easily create video content?
  6. Do you do any industry studies or surveys?
  7. Are there any hurdles to publishing content on your site that we should be aware of?

Depending on the prospect and the conversations you’ve had with them, you may not need to include all of these questions. And, of course, depending on the client and the services you’re offering, you may consider asking additional questions beyond this list.

The main thing, though, is to try to create a framework for gauging as quickly as possible exactly what questions will get you to a detailed proposal that will allow you to get the client as close to their goals as possible with the budgetary constraints they’ve outlined.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Managing Partner at Cornerstone Content
Tom is the co-founder and managing partner of Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content. He was also the former Director of Marketing for WordStream, Inc. Prior... Read Full Bio
Tom Demers
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  • Justin

    Those are good questions, I like to try and lay more info than less out on the table when link building. Helps the client relationship because it’s just more professional and usually the client appreciates it. Some clients don’t care about technical aspects and just want results but for ones that do it’s good to lay it all out there.

    • Tom Demers

      Hey Justin,

      Definitely agreed some clients express different objectives early in the process so you want to make sure to customize your questions to what they’re looking to accomplish and what they’ve already expressed so you’re not wasting their time.


  • Murtaza

    Exact Time Post!..This is going to help a lot for analyzing my current proposal.

    Tom! Thank You Very Much.

    • Tom Demers

      Thanks Murtaza glad you found the post useful!

  • Steve

    Fantastic post, Tom. Great list(s) of questions.

    The good thing about just asking those types of questions – even if the answer is “no, can’t help you, sorry” to most or all of them – is that it gets the client a) involved and b) thinking. They might not having the resources to create videos right now, but asking about it might encourage them to pursue it in the future. Better to ask right at the beginning of a project than find that 6 months down the line they ask you about it.

    • Tom Demers

      Hi Steve,

      Yep definitely, and a lot of times you can unearth some content that can be useful that they never would have associated with link building.

      Thanks for the comment!


  • Anthony

    Thanks for this Tom. Some great questions here, especially the one about content that a client may have. A great idea to unearth some existent content to pitch out that may never have been thought about before. This could potentially reduce the content creation workload. Shared and bookmarked 🙂

  • Zankhana

    Hey Tom,

    This is a wonderful list. These questions can easily help analyze the client.

  • Mark

    Great Article Tom!

    I cop the odd curve ball here and there from potentials that aren’t sure what is it they’re asking for, this will come in handy!

  • Marc Nashaat

    Definitely a great post, I especially agree with the section on internal resources. I worked with one client (a doctor) when I was an independent who had a whole series of videos that he’d recorded on a variety of common ailments and remedies. These were a personal video collection that he gave to his patients as a sort of homework. In my eyes this was gold. Immediately got him set up with a youtube profile and had him upload all of the videos.

    He continues to create these videos except now he knows to post them to youtube (with links of course) rather than hoard them senselessly.