Yes, I know that I have already explained where you can start your link building campaign, but, actually, a link building campaign begins even before you start analyzing the current situation, and far before you start building new links. It starts with asking the right questions.
In this post, I’ll mention a few questions that you could ask your new link building client, but, in the case that you’re not working for a client, you could be asking them to your boss or maybe even to yourself as well.
Some of these questions should also be asked earlier in the sales process, for example before or during a sales pitch, but not every link marketer is in the situation that he or she is involved in this sales process from start till end.
What do you know about link marketing? What does your boss know about link marketing?
Starting with this question will make it a lot easier for you to keep your client happy. If he doesn’t know a lot about SEO and/ or link marketing yet, you can try to increase his level of knowledge, while you work for him. For example, when you’re working for someone who’s new to link building, reporting that ‘you’ve managed to get 2 highly relevant, editorial .edu links in just a few hours of work’, might not be such a good idea. Try to explain the value of links first, and/ or start your reporting with results that he can fully understand.
Also, when your contact person has to report to his superior, it’s also useful to get an idea of what the knowledge level of that manager is. That way, you can provide the right information to your contact person, to keep his boss happy as well. Using an approach like this usually results in a very happy contact person (you’re ‘helping him out’ as well), who’s willing to fight for you during meetings with his boss.
Did you hire an SEO or link building company in the past, or have you built links yourself?
Asking a question like this might give you an indication of what kind of strategies have been used in the past. For example, if your new client hired an SEO agency in the past, that mainly used services like TLA, ReviewMe and PPP to get new links, you know that you have to clean up first, before you can start building new links.
While tools like MajesticSEO also have the ability to show you what links were placed to a specific web page in the past, simply asking the client what strategies were used previously can give you just as much information.
Can you tell more about your company, i.e. the company philosophy, office locations, etc.?
Link building opportunities are everywhere. Office locations are a good start for localized link building, a list of important employees might help you to discover (linkless) press mentions, and the company philosophy may provide different link building angles as well.
Ask your client to provide as much information about the company and the people that work there as possible, including (old) brochures and other documentation. Filter out whatever you feel is necessary or useful, and write that down for future use.
What are the USPs of your product(s) or service(s)?
Just like with the company, you also need to know what is unique about the products your client is trying to sell. Unique angles lead to links. Are their products environmentally friendly? Aim at eco blogs & websites. Is your client the cheapest in the industry? Try to obtain links from price comparison websites, or focus on websites that offer money saving tips, just to name a few.
If your client is not able to tell you their USP, you’ll probably have a hard time promoting the website. No USP usually means mediocrity, and mediocrity means low link building conversion rates, because the website does not add a lot of extra value. Adding exceptional content to your client’s website will probably be your only option.
Can you name 5 of your biggest competitors? Can you explain why these companies are big competitors?
Asking this question can give you more insights in the knowledge level of your contact person (“yes, there is a difference between online and offline competition”), but can also be the jump start of your competitor analysis.
Also, adding ‘why are this your most important competitors’, may reveal some details about these competitors and their USPs as well. Some companies seem to know their competitors better than they know their own company, so asking this question might be very useful.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile, and -if so- can you accept me as a connection?
First, you can try to see which journalists, bloggers, reporters or other interesting webmasters are directly connected to your contact person. Advise your client on how to use this network optimally, by giving him clear directions. Don’t just say “try to get links from these places”, but use him as one of your own link developers.
You can also try to find interesting connections the other way around. Determine which people are highly influential in your client’s industry, and find out if your client is connected to these influencers, or which of your client’s connections are.
Are you currently sponsoring any events, charities or whatsoever?
Asking this question (and getting ‘yes’ as an answer) can lead you to some low hanging fruit. High quality, very low hanging fruit. Lots of charities and events list their sponsors on their website, but not a lot do this in an optimal way. Some only mention contributing companies, others link using third party scripts and some use heavily unoptimized image links. Spending some time optimizing these relationships (in a non-spammy way, of course) is usually well worth it.
What kind of private data do you have?
I’m not talking about personal private data here, but lots of companies have a huge amount of market research information, general client data, or other facts and numbers that are perfectly suitable for creating linkbait-type of content. Try to find out what kind of data your client has. Most companies don’t even realize the value of the information they have, or what they could do with it.
Now comes the difficult part: when you have discovered some data, studies, or other information that you could use to attract more links, it’s time to convince the client why making his precious, valuable information accessible to the public (including competitors) is a good thing. Some clients will understand this straight away, but you might have a hard time convincing others.
Do you have any interns or students working at your company?
Interns and students not only can be an access point to a .edu domain, but can be used to create awesome, linkable content during their internship as well. Mix both, and you have the ability to publish links to awesome content on a .edu domain :)
What are your offline marketing plans for the next season?
Integrating online and offline marketing efforts can be highly effective. Instead of 1+1=2, it could even be 1+1=3, depending on the campaign and execution. However, even in 2009, not a lot of companies seem to realize this.
If your client is planning on launching a creative offline advertising campaign, you’d want to know, because failing to create a related linkbait campaign (or optimizing the online part of the campaign) would be a missed opportunity.
Of course, there are tons of other questions that you could ask a new (or existing) client. Do you have any other questions to add to this list, that you could ask a client?