If a prospect asks you for an SEO proposal, they are ready to say yes. It’s your responsibility to present your strategy clearly, concisely and convincingly. If you care about learning foolproof, step-by-step instructions on how to hand-craft an SEO proposal, keep reading.
What is an SEO Proposal?
It’s a pitch to your potential client that makes it crystal clear how you’re going to improve the rankings of their site and impact their business.
But did you know that most of the time the proposal is usually presented after contact was made with the potential client?
As you could imagine, the quality of your SEO proposal oftentimes makes all of the difference in whether or not your client chooses you for their needs.
Here are the three biggest goals of SEO that every business proposal should strive for.
1. Present the obstacles your potential client faces
Obstacles are a part of every business, regardless of the type of business or how successful they are.
In the same way a mountain climber must know the obstacles that lie ahead of him, an SEO specialist must know the obstacles that are keeping their prospective client from reaching the top.
When crafting your proposal, it is important to fully understand and be able to recognize your potential client’s obstacles and instill confidence in them that you are well in-tune with their exact SEO needs.
However, simply saying you are aware of their obstacles is not enough!
Rather, go into depth on each one of the issues they face with their online presence.
If you can show them the exact obstacle they are faced with from an SEO standpoint – and in many cases, one they themselves are not even aware of – you can show them you care about their business and are knowledgeable about your craft.
For example, say your client is not ranking well for certain keywords that their competitors are generating massive amounts of profit off of each month.
Tell them precisely and without fluff why they are failing to capitalize on the issue and lay out how it is hurting their overall success.
By being able to show them you took the time to research their business and pinpoint their exact obstacles, you are able to establish a trusting relationship and show you are knowledgeable and hard-working from day one.
2. Identify the most important keyword rankings
Ok. So you know all of the SEO obstacles your potential client is facing.
Now it’s time to show them the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s time to prove your expertise and show them how SEO will grow their business.
Remember the old sales mantra:
“A sale is made when the value of what you are providing exceeds the price that they have to pay.”
If you do a great job on this step, it will make the client’s decision to hire you a no-brainer – an important business expense in order to grow.
Let’s consider an example where Joe’s Carpet Cleaning does not rank well for important local keywords.
You can show how Tim’s Cleanest Carpet from across the street is getting hundreds of visitors a day and likely many phone calls – all while poor Joe is lost and forgotten in the abyss known as page 2 of Google.
It’s important to show that these are real live people with buyer intent. Especially for a business owner that focuses on offline marketing methods and has operated before the internet has existed, it becomes crucial to hammer down the value of search visitors.
After showing them the opportunity that lies ahead of them, you are then in a much stronger position and are ready to hit goal 3.
3. Show search traffic trends
So the job is complete, right? Well, far from it actually!
We’ve shown the obstacles.
We’ve shown the opportunity.
Now it’s time to show clear action steps to complete the job.
Why are you the right person for the job and not Sally’s Discount SEO services, that charge half of what you charge?
Take down the shroud of magic that is the SEO industry and clearly write down in plain-english the steps you will take. Avoid too much scary technical explanations and save those for when you’re ready to write up the contract.
A good proposal is an integral part of generating sales. It will also give structure and direction to your project and it is a great way to make sure that all parties are in agreement about the project details and the costs involved. There are a number of free online signature service options available which can be used to speed up the contract signing process.
Estimations of how long it will take for the client to see results.
It is important to remember that your potential client likely does not know a lot about SEO, hence them being interested in your service.
Many times people become interested in SEO through hearing about it from a friend.
Therefore, even more crucial than using SEO lingo to try and impress them, show confidence and let them know with certainty why you believe your solution is worth the price you charge.
Going back to our carpet cleaning example, we should highlight our strategy to improve their rankings.
- First, Joe, we are going to get your site all set up in Google Search Console where we will be able to view important issues that we need to fix.
- After that we’ll run your site through an on-page SEO checker to create a list of additional issues we have to fix.
- We’ll take action on the list of issues we have just generated.
- Our next step will be to add schema.org markup to your site. This is a tool that makes it easy for Google to know important info about your business such as the name of your business, where you are located, and the hours you are open.
- Finally, we’ll improve the copy of your website – including important local keywords.
Last but not least, be sure to always end with a call to action, guiding them to the next step in the process.
SEO Proposal Important Factors
Although each SEO company should have its own unique SEO proposal that is customized for their clients, there are certain factors that all of the best SEO proposals have in common.
The following are the five most important factors that make up a strong SEO proposal and give you a realistic chance to attain potential clients long-term.
Just think of it this way, ensure you follow these aspects with your proposals and you can consistently convert on your pitches to clients and show yourself as a knowledgeable SEO mind each time.
If you want better results with your SEO proposals, try adding these five important factors into each one!
1. Be honest and transparent
First and foremost, it is important to be completely honest and transparent in the SEO proposal.
Otherwise, you run the risk of developing a bad reputation as a result of not being able to convert on promises made to clients, which can have a harmful effect on your own business long-term.
If your potential client makes a very poor SEO situation, let them know and be honest about how long the process is going to take and what all it is going to involve.
2. Be relatable
Another important factor that can have an effect on whether or not you are able to persuade your client to trust in your service is whether or not you are relatable.
While it is important to be professional, it is also important to let your client know you understand their needs and have experienced some of the same issues yourself.
When you can relate to what they are going through and show them that you have experience solving issues such as theirs, you quickly gain their trust.
3. Show them what they need to know
One of the most important things to remember when crafting the SEO proposal is to keep things clear and concise, telling them what they need to know without all of the fluff.
In a straightforward manner, tell them what their obstacle is, show them the potential there is with quality SEO efforts and lay out your solution.
The reason why is that they likely are not going to understand what you are saying if you go into depth on SEO practices, so tell them what they need to know and not much more.
4. Provide a solution
Since the solution is typically presented last, your proposal often feels complete by the point you describe what SEO efforts you plan to utilize to help them reach their potential.
However, it is vital to show them how you specifically can help them in ways that others cannot.
By doing so, you separate yourself from all other SEOs and establish yourself as an expert with your potential client.
How to Create an SEO Proposal
Now that we have laid the framework of what a good SEO proposal looks like, let’s dive into the exact structure and format.
The exact content that is included in your proposal – along with the format in which that content is presented – is crucial to ensuring your potential client understands what you are saying and your proposal conveys the message in a confident manner.
Bottom line: the format of a good proposal can be broken down into six different sections,.
Here’s the high-level breakdown:
- Introduction of the proposal
- Identify the most important keyword rankings
- Show search traffic trends
- Compare the condition of your potential client compared to their competitors
- Provide a backlink analysis
- Show them you are the right person for the job
The six sections should include introductory information, more in-depth analytics about your client’s obstacles and potential, competitor analysis and your solution.
As I said – easy.
Now let’s dig deeper into HOW to do them well!
1. Introduction of the proposal
The introduction – or the beginning of your proposal – should be about establishing a connection with your potential client, letting them know that you are familiar with what their business is and what it is they do exactly.
The beginning of your proposal should include the following:
State the name of the the job. (“John’s SEO Company will optimize Landing Scaping Co’s website to rank for important local landscaping-related keywords.”)
Write the benefits that the potential client will gain through your services.
General statement of the work needed to complete this job.
The goal of this section is to introduce the need for SEO services. Do not go too in-depth with this section.
Be sure to refrain from talking about yourself too much (if at all) at the beginning of your proposal – there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss your experience and knowledge in the solution component of your proposal.
2:. Identify the most important keyword rankings
Even for the clients least familiar with SEO, they understand that good rankings in Google is what they desire.
Well it all starts with discussing the keyword rankings.
Discussing keywords is a good way to show them both the obstacles they face as well as the potential that lies ahead of them in a manner they can actually understand.
A good way to discuss keyword rankings in the SEO proposal is to paste in a table featuring a variety of different keywords, the search traffic they bring in, and whether or not it is realistic for them to rank for.
Of course, providing a detailed chart is going to require some research, but it will all be well worth it especially if this becomes a long-term client.
3. Show search traffic trends
There are tools available – such as Ahrefs – that allow you to access information about your client’s Google traffic over the past few years.
By providing these trends to your client in the SEO proposal, preferably in the form of a graph or chart, you can show them the current standing of their company and use it as an opportunity to discuss their potential within Google, particularly along with the keyword rankings.
If your client has not received much traffic at all over the past few years and the trend has stayed more or less constant or has even declined, then you can elaborate on how you can reverse the trend with your solution.
If their traffic has steadily increased, then lay out how you can keep the trend going and build off of the recent success.
Showing your client you are familiar with the recent success, failure or stagnation of their business lets them know you are aware of their needs and what it takes to take them to the next level with SEO.
4. Compare your potential client to their competitors
If showing them you are well informed about their own company’s presence in search engines is not enough, you can even further impress them by including a detailed, yet straight to the point competitor analysis into the SEO proposal as well.
The best way to include the competitor analysis is to make a list of five of their biggest, most successful competitors that are relevant to them and compare these sites to your prospect’s site. Ahref’s Domain Comparison tool is a great way to do this.
After compiling the data, include a graph or chart of the information into the SEO proposal and provide a short, simple description of how they compare and the importance of closing the gap between them and their competitors.
Be sure to only use relevant competitors for the analysis. In other words, if your potential client is a small local business, avoid comparing them to large, multinational corporations.
5. Provide a backlink analysis
At this point in the SEO proposal, your client should have a clear indication that you understand their particular situation within the basics of SEO, which means you can now dive a little deeper into more detailed information.
A good way to keep things fairly simple but still show them you are able to go deeper into detailed strategies in a manner other agencies may not be able or willing to is by providing a short backlink analysis.
One of the best ways to do this is to conduct an analysis of the anchor text profile of your potential client and compare it to a previously discussed competitor.
Be sure to provide a detailed chart that displays important information and provide a brief, yet thorough explanation of how they rank with the competitor.
This once again shows them their obstacles, potential and gives you an opportunity to discuss your proposed solution.
6. Show them you are the right person for the job
The last step – and perhaps the most important one – is to show your prospect how you can help them overcome their current obstacles and fulfill their business’ potential.
In the solution, it is okay to go into more depth about SEO strategy, although keeping it short and straight to the point is still highly encouraged.
Be sure to confidently show them how you can help them in ways other SEO agencies cannot and work to build trust and establish a connection with your potential client.
Towards the end of the section, state – again with confidence – your pricing information. No one enjoys the process of paying, so be sure to convey the message that you can provide a solution that yields them a large return on their investment into you.
Last but not least, include a call to action, urging them to take the next step towards working with you long-term to meet their SEO goals.
Potential SEO Solutions to Include
So you think you’re a pro? Now it is your chance to prove it!
When you do land the client, you can avoid that “what now” moment by knowing what are the most successful SEO solutions to try first.
Each proposal is going to be slightly different and should be customized for your potential client it is intended for, which means the SEO solutions that are offered are not going to be the same for each client.
Whereas one client may need more link outreach and have less of a need for on-page SEO, another client may need more on-page SEO and social media than they do content development and link outreach.
There are numerous ways to improve your client’s SERPs, and the key to a good SEO proposal is often about finding the right solutions.
The following are five of the most common SEO solutions to consider for each client.
1. Full website audit
First and foremost, every client should receive a full website audit once they hire you or your agency for their SEO needs.
A good SEO audit should analyze and interpret every aspect of SEO, including on-page SEO, technical SEO and much more.
Although there are numerous avenues to consider during a website audit, here are several areas to make sure you check for SEO purposes:
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Current search rankings
- Google penalties
- Social media audit
- Link analysis
- Content creation
The key for any good SEO agency is being able to find the root of the issue as to why their client is not ranking better or for more keywords.
Once the issue is found – through a full SEO audit – an SEO campaign can be planned accordingly.
2. Content creation
Content creation is another essential component to good SEO.
Simply put, the more quality content a website has on their website, along with the entire internet as a whole, the better chance they have to rank well in search engines.
Why is this?
Well, not only does more content that is updated and relevant help to establish more legitimacy with your website, but it also increases your ability to carry out successful link building campaigns as well.
In fact, with good content creation a website can gain high-quality links with little to no link outreach at all.
In the event your potential client does not have new, relevant content on their website, discuss with them how you can help them gain more traffic through content development.
3. Link outreach
Link outreach is scary and not fun for most business owners! You have to compile spreadsheets full of bloggers & businesses. You have to carefully send out each email and personalize each one to appeal to the recipient. You also have to deal with rejection on a constant basis.
While creating great content can reap links organically, link building is essentially a growth hacking strategy that allows you to build relationships with other business owners and raise your site’s authority.
The way link outreach is done has changed over the past decade, and well-renowned content websites in every industry now get spammed with tons of emails each day from other websites only looking for a link.
Subsequently, when contacting others directly to try and acquire a link for your client’s website, be sure to focus on how you can help them, rather than how a link can help you.
With that said, guest posting, finding relevant directories, and being active on forums in a helpful manner can still be successful link outreach opportunities if done appropriately.
Then, of course, being active on social media helps as well, especially since it's quite easy due to the possibility of bulk scheduling of posts.
4. On-page SEO
On-page SEO often gets overlooked or viewed as less important, but the fact is optimizing content on your own website is still crucial to gaining trust with search engines.
If your client does not have optimized on-page SEO, then reveal to them exactly how this will improve their search ranking and why it is important.
When on-page SEO is used in unison with off-page SEO and technical SEO, it can have a profound impact on a website’s ability to rank in search engines.
Especially for sites targeting local keywords, it’s important to include keywords.
5. Social Media
Since social media plays a less direct role in search engine rankings, it often gets overlooked as an SEO solution and is commonly regarded more or less in its own category within digital marketing.
However, a strong social media presence can play a large role in a website’s ability to improve rank within search engines.
Simply put, the stronger your client’s social media presence, the more content they are able to get out on the web, which means more chances to gain quality links and raise domain authority.
While SEO does not always include social media marketing, adding in a social media component to the proposed solution for your potential client is a good way to go above and beyond and really impress them with your effort.
SEO Proposal Tips
In addition to making sure your SEO proposal includes straightforward information on the current obstacles and future opportunity of your potential client, detailed information on how you can help them reach their SEO goals and a format and tone that is appropriate, there are several other insights that can help you convert at a high rate.
The key is to find what works for you and stay consistent with each proposal!
Here are a few additional tips to consider when crafting an SEO proposal.
1. Be a salesman
Do not be a pushy salesman – meaning do not pressure potential clients in any way – but do consider using more subtle persuasion tactics to convert your potential client who is still on the fence.
The key is to believe in your own mind you are the right guy for the job, and then convey the confidence in your interactions.
2. Make a connection
While it is important to stay professional to a certain degree, being personable and finding a way to make a connection with your potential client is a great way to gain their trust and persuade them to work with you.
Whether you make a funny joke, bond over a favorite sports team or simply genuinely ask them how they are doing, making a connection is a great way to close a deal during an SEO proposal.
3. Share a video
Another big tip is to create a video recorded screen share of your proposal and walk your potential client through your proposal step-by-step.
This helps ensure your prospect understands the information as they go through your proposal.
A tool such as Snagit is a great way to create a screen-share video.
And in a world of spam emails left-and-right, hearing your voice and them knowing that you spent time creating a whole video for them makes the whole interaction very personal.
Tip: Have a webcam? A log of screen-sharing software have options to put a little box in the bottom-right of your screen with your webcam feed. Having your face there makes it even more personal.
4. Send a professional document
The document you present your proposal on matters.
Rather than simply sending a generic word document, take some time and create a professional document. It’s all about showing your attention to detail.
5. Make it easy to understand
A very important last tip to keep in mind is to make your proposal easy to understand, keeping your message on-point, clear and concise.
Your potential client likely is not an expert on SEO – which is why they are considering your service.
Be sure to keep this in mind and make your points easy to understand in the SEO proposal.
SEO Proposal Templates
While each SEO proposal should be customized for the particular prospective client that it is going to be sent to, the format can stay more or less the same for each proposal.
There are certain proposal templates that have a track record of converting at a high rate.
The following are three of the better templates available right now:
Webris is an established SEO agency. The owner and founder is Ryan Stewart, a mastermind when it comes to SEO.
The Mondovo Proposal Template guides you through each step of the proposal process.
The format and structure of the template has had proven success and is used by many digital and SEO-specific agencies already.
The Pandadoc SEO Proposal is another highly trusted template that includes all of the most essential factors of a successful SEO proposal.
It includes everything from introductory information to pricing charts.
Your turn: What was the worst mistake you’ve made in your proposals that once fixed, was a game-changer to your business. Let us know in the comment section below!