As a digital marketer, it’s easy to claim you know SEO. But when pitching to new clients, you need to stand out from the competition.
A thorough SEO proposal is the most reliable way to win new clients. It’s your opportunity to show what you know, shine a light on your client’s marketing problem, and outline an attractive solution that’ll win you the client’s business.
But what does a good SEO proposal need to include, and how can you write one that wins the client every time?
In this article, we’ll cover what a good SEO proposal looks like and how you can write a reliable template that helps you easily secure new clients.
What is an SEO proposal, and why is it important?
An SEO proposal is how you convince a client you’re the right agency for the job. You’ll need to present good ideas backed up with solid data and show clients a long-term strategy for success. A detailed proposal has to set you apart from the competition because your potential client is probably contacting several agencies.
That said, you don’t have to spend hours creating the perfect proposal. You can reuse a template from proposal software such as PandaDoc or other alternatives to Proposify. Then you only need to personalize it to ensure it resonates with your client’s specific brand and business objectives.
Set clear goals
SEO is crucial for website owners for manyreasons, but improving their site’s search engine ranking is the main one. However, good rankings are often just a means to an end. Your prospective customers might require SEO services to achieve the following:
- More phone or email inquiries
- More leads
- Higher sales and conversion rates
- A higher return on investment
Without knowing its effect on their website, some clients may discuss vanity metrics such as increasing organic traffic. In these situations, your plan should translate these indicators into specific, measurable objectives for your content strategy. Educating your client proves you know what you’re talking about, and a good client will value the course correction. In this initial stage, it’s beneficial to educate clients about getting started with SEO, as this demonstrates your expertise and the value of your services.
At the start of your proposal, you should reiterate the client’s pain points and goals to show that you have listened to them. Asking questions, such as how the client has approached SEO in the past, allows you to understand more about your client’s particular needs and problems during the SEO discovery call. Perhaps the company has no idea where to begin with SEO or has a more specific concern, such as building a new website but wanting to maintain their current search results when it goes live. You should incorporate these into your introduction.
After describing the problem in detail, you should briefly mention some of the client’s campaign or business objectives. You may be tempted to make attention-grabbing targets, such as doubling your client’s Google traffic or placing a particular phrase on the first page of results. But remember that these kinds of promises are difficult to keep because SEO is constantly changing.
Focus on those business goals which are achievable. Ask your client what they might do if they had increased traffic from Google. That might involve doing less but more valuable work or investing the profits into growing a specific department.
Summarize and strategize
It’s time to outline your company’s SEO strategy. This strategy adheres to a framework that improves a client’s website in four ways: SEO techniques, SEO content, on-site SEO, and off-site SEO. Additionally, you should describe how you’ll approach SEO by laying a foundation throughout three stages:
- SEO evaluation
- Initial SEO setup
- Monthly SEO services
Don’t forget to include a few words about what distinguishes your agency from others. Doing this can build a stronger relationship with the client and reassure them that they’ve chosen the right match for their SEO requirements.
Start with your client’s problems
An effective SEO proposal will start by describing the goals and problems of your client’s business and how you propose to solve them. You might write the overview to persuade the client that you understand their needs and how to meet them.
The introduction speaks to the client’s most important business goals. This heading is more than just a summary; it demonstrates your value by tying your services to the company’s goals. The client should come away from the introduction with a clear understanding of how the SEO service will benefit the company in the long term.
Provide SEO insights
This section is essential because it contains most of the personalization for your proposal. You should highlight any pertinent information you have learned about their current SEO performance here. A client will feel valued when they see that your company has put in the effort to develop an SEO strategy that’s bespoke to them and their audience. You’ve made an effort to understand their business difficulties and goals, thoroughly examining their website and using that to generate unique insights.
Gathering a few SEO insights to offer in the proposal doesn’t take much time. Include the following two conclusions in your evaluation:
- The client’s current keyword rankings, with highlighted areas for improvement. This may include pointing out harmful backlinks you want to disavow for the client.
- An SEO analysis of the client’s website, which identifies critical issues you know you can help them to resolve.
Enter a few target keywords into a rank tracker to quickly conduct some keyword research. This will show you the client’s website’s current position and the volume of organic searches. Include some information on the keywords you want to target and current keyword data in your SEO proposal.
What’s more, you should look at the keywords your client’s rivals are ranking for. A competitor analysis will shed light on the opportunities they’re overlooking and highlight your organization’s strategy to take care of them.
Highlight achievable business goals
Turn the broad business objectives you’ve outlined in the introduction into measurable SEO goals you can help them reach. For example, consider the header “Increased Revenue from Mobile Customers” and then detail how your SEO service will help achieve that.
Define your SEO strategy
After summarizing the goals, describe the tactics you’ll use to accomplish your client’s business goals. SEO strategies include audits, on-page optimization, content creation, internal and external linking, email outreach, meta tags, etc.
Scope of services
Continue the proposal by outlining the planned scope of services. This will depend on the SEO service or packages you’re offering. In most cases, this is a one-time project that will lay the groundwork for sustained growth. The project is divided into three phases.
At the onboarding stage, you learn about the company in more detail and gather the information you need to succeed. That means gaining access to the company site and ensuring it follows the best practices set by Google.
Research, analysis, and content strategy
In this phase, you’ll conduct strategic work to analyze the client’s SEO content and plan the next steps. This may include:
- Keyword Research: Extensively researching and identifying key search terms the target audience is searching for that are relevant to your client.
- Competitor Analysis: Looking into the client’s main rivals and the gaps in their own SEO efforts.
- Content Strategy: Analyzing the website’s existing content performance and rankings. This will help guide your content plan for the future.
- Off-site SEO: Evaluating the client’s domain authority, including backlinks, to help guide a link-building plan.
Building a long-term relationship
After implementing your plans, your client should notice an improvement in the search results in only a few weeks. Once you see results, it’s an excellent opportunity to review the preliminary findings with your client and discuss a monthly SEO service to continue growing their SEO. For this reason, it’s a good idea to invest in a client collaboration portal for professional interactions.
Establish timelines and deliverables
Next, go into detail about timelines and deliverables for the work you’ll be carrying out as part of the SEO campaign.
- Do you provide services for link building? How long until those take effect?
- How many links would you create each month to help your client’s website rank higher in the search results?
- Will developing a content plan for their website be a part of your digital marketing efforts?
- Do you intend to oversee their social media marketing? Is this just an audit or a long-term collaboration?
Describe the deliverables so that your client knows what to anticipate from you each month. These ought to be precise and measurable. In addition, specify the type of SEO reporting they can expect from you each month. If you’re linking them into a live SEO dashboard, mention that as a deliverable.
You might be tempted to include all the various SEO services you provide, from link building to community management for social media. However, some of your potential clients might need a narrower range of services. Only include what’s relevant to their business goals in the actual proposal. You can always upsell them on further services once you’ve created some value for them and established a relationship.
As part of your SEO packages, you can provide your clients with the following services, which they should have some room to pick and choose from:
- Primary audits: These may include keyword, site, content, and link audits. These are all checks to determine whether your client’s online presence is as good as it could be for both SEO and their target audience.
- Keyword research: This uses tools such as Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush. Demonstrate how you will get your client in front of relevant internet searches by choosing a combination of short and long-tail keywords to rank for. This will lead to better rankings, increased search traffic, and, more importantly, increased revenue from the client’s target audience.
- Competitor analysis: The concept of “knowing your enemy” extends beyond learning about their market share and product offerings. A detailed picture of rivals’ keyword strategy, successes, and vulnerabilities is an essential part of a good SEO proposal. For your client, it’s always good if they can feel like they’re getting the edge over their direct competitors.
- Writing for blogs and other internal site pages: Using the knowledge you gather from the activities above, you can make a plan to create engaging content on the site that appeals to target audiences. Additionally, you can make a plan for guest pieces on other (authoritative) domains that link back to your client’s website.
- Link building: Not all backlinks are good for your client’s position in search results. While sponsored backlinks from dubious sources may result in search engines punishing your clients, backlinks from websites with a high Domain Authority score help your clients’ websites rank better on their target keywords.
- SEO reporting: Finally, specify how often your team is sending out SEO reports and how they’re delivered. Is this a weekly email with a few statistics? A long-term monthly check-in over video call? Or do you have a live SEO dashboard that clients can monitor anytime they want?
Your SEO proposal template should cover one or more of the points mentioned above. Clients will require proof that you can keep your commitments before they accept your service, so it’s good to include testimonials from your previous clients. If you’re detailing your keyword research offering, highlight a testimonial from a client about how you helped them increase revenue with more relevant traffic.
An organic SEO strategy is a long-term commitment, so you need to manage client expectations by providing a timeline for results. That’ll include expected turnaround times for one-off tasks like setting up Keyword Planner or Google Analytics. It should also have dates you’ll sit down with the client and review long-term initiatives like regular content creation, keyword research, and link-building efforts.
The expected outcomes for each activity should also be included as benchmarks. For instance, you might start your technical SEO and content audits immediately or even before the proposal is accepted. To gauge your progress, you should perform SEO reporting before, during, and after the project. You’ll better demonstrate your value if you have clear “before and after” reports for reference.
You should include the expected time for content development on each keyword or guest post in your timeline. Not only will having a realistic timeline help your clients understand what you’ll be doing each day, but it will also help you and your team stay on-task. Additionally, it will give you time to plan your approach, conduct the necessary research, and promptly give your potential client the reporting they need.
Agree on the investment required
After making your case for how you can help the client, it’s time to discuss payment. All the prices for your services should be listed in the “Investment” portion of your proposal. It’s good to recap your work and the projected benefits just before getting to pricing.
The conclusion of your SEO proposal template should end with a strong offer for your potential client. The deliverables you have committed to and their associated costs should be listed in a simple price sheet after you’ve spent the proposal laying the groundwork for the value of these specific investments. While you want the client to take all the services listed, give them a chance to mix and match the services to fit their budget.
Pre-packaged offers that address various needs and price ranges are another option. For much less money than a full-fledged search engine optimization, you might, for example, offer X pages of copywriting or Y hours of keyword research.
By giving your potential client power over the buying process, they are more likely to choose your services. All of the SEO services that you indicated in your proposal will be included in your basic package. Give your customers the choice of 1-3 packages. That could be a basic package with no extra features, a deluxe option with additional services and support, and a more affordable package for price-sensitive clients.
The actual agreement itself is the last stage. Don’t stuff the SEO proposal with endless pages of legalese. Instead, use simple contract generation software to fill in the client details in a short, standard form. Include a concluding page stating the client’s determination to proceed with the project. This may incorporate language such as “You acknowledge that you have read and comprehend the proposed scope of services in this Scope of Services by signing it. Our Services Agreement governs all supplied services. Please sign and date here if you accept”.
Getting it right every time
With this structure and these tips, you can write a great SEO proposal that’ll show potential clients how valuable your services are. If you send out several proposals weekly, that could be thousands of words to write from scratch.
Using these tips to build a solid SEO proposal template will help you save time and get consistent results. By taking a personalized approach to your proposal, focusing on your client’s unique problems and how you will solve them, you’ll be on your way to securing new clients in no time.
Yauhen is PandaDoc’s Director of Demand Generation. PandaDoc provides an all-in-one document management tool for almost any type of document. He’s been involved in marketing for 10+ years, and over the last five years, he’s focused on the e-signature, proposal, template, and document management sectors. Yauhen enjoys speaking at specialty conferences and sharing his knowledge with other eager marketers.
In his leisure time, he enjoys fishing and goes on roughly 20 excursions each year.