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Writing An SEO Proposal That Converts

High-quality SEO work can be tough. But getting new clients for your SEO services is equally difficult, if not more so.

An SEO proposal is the first document that your potential clients will see from you.

A good proposal can highlight your offer and how you propose to solve a client's problem. This can help convince them of the value you provide and turn them into customers.

After putting in the work of attracting a lead and pitching your services, you want to ensure that your proposal seals the deal. 

What you will learn

  • What an SEO proposal is
  • Why SEO proposals matter in the sales process
  • How to create an effective SEO proposal, step by step
  • A free SEO proposal template
  • A checklist of items you should include in your next proposal
  • A list of tools to help you create, manage and send SEO proposals

What is an SEO proposal?

An SEO proposal is a sales document that SEO agencies, freelancers, and consultants use to convince clients to purchase their SEO services. An SEO proposal contains your proposed solution to a client's problem, the methods you plan to use to solve it, timelines, case studies, and other details a client may need to make a decision.

The purpose of an SEO proposal is to show a prospect that the provider can deliver a positive outcome for the prospect. 

An SEO proposal also serves as a legal contract, protecting both the service provider and the client should things go wrong.

An SEO proposal can be a standalone document or part of a marketing proposal, depending on whether the provider is providing SEO as an extension of digital marketing services or as an independent service.

Why are SEO proposals important?

An SEO proposal is important because it is the last deciding factor in whether a client picks you for their business.

After all the work that you have put into generating SEO leads and pitching your services, an SEO proposal is the last hurdle to overcome before you can start working with a client.

Here are some reasons why an SEO proposal is important:

It convinces potential clients that you have the proper SEO expertise

An SEO proposal contains your proposed solution to a client's problem, which further shows that you understand their situation and pain points.

Every good SEO proposal should include a case study section that highlights work that you've done for similar clients before.

The client can immediately see what it would be like if you solved their problem too.

It differentiates you from the competition

A high-quality SEO proposal lets you truly shine a light on what makes you a great choice as an SEO expert.

You can showcase specific clients you worked for in the past, your SEO strategy and research process, unique results you've achieved before, and anything else that will make you stand out in a packed crowd of SEO specialists.

An SEO proposal template can come in handy as a starting point, but every proposal should be unique and focused on your strengths with regard to the problem you're attempting to solve.

It helps communicate a good SEO strategy

Selling SEO services can be a bit like selling smoke and mirrors, especially if you're talking to clients who do not understand how SEO works.

An SEO proposal walks the client through your strategy, explaining what you do, how you do it, and what the expected results are in terms of online visibility, external links, keyword rankings, and more.

It establishes a blueprint for SEO efforts

There is a major difference between communicating something vague like

"We'll do SEO work on your website."

and a more detailed explanation,

"We'll optimize your existing content, deliver five new content pieces a month based on keyword research, and run a technical audit of your website monthly."

An SEO proposal gives your clients a blueprint that they can follow and more importantly, understand.

Most clients don't speak in terms that an SEO expert would understand and are primarily interested in results.

It gives you opportunities for upselling and cross-selling

An SEO proposal is not just for new clients. You can use one to show existing clients what you were able to achieve with their website and potentially offer them more SEO services.

Perhaps adding link building to a content mix or offering regular technical audits for an additional fee.

How to create an SEO proposal 

Now that you know the true value of a great SEO proposal, let's show you how to create one for your marketing agency. Most SEO consultants and agencies make the mistake of bundling together their services into a template for a prospective client.

Instead, you should invest time and creative thinking into making a proposal for your SEO services. 

Here are 9 steps for building an effective SEO proposal.

1. Start with an in-depth client analysis and preliminary audit

The best way to show a client that your SEO agency has what it takes is by conducting an SEO audit and pinpointing what needs to be fixed.

The first part of your SEO proposal should be to do an audit of the client's website and show them places for improvement.

For example, if you have a client that is struggling with rankings and online visibility, do the following:

  1. Use a tool like Surfer Audit or Screaming Frog to analyze their content.
  2. Give the client a list of their current best-performing pages and opportunities for quick wins.
  3. Suggest a list of technical SEO fixes that need to be done as soon as possible.
  4. Show a quick competitor gap analysis with the lowest hanging fruit that the client could go for.
  5. Show an analysis of the potential client’s backlink portfolio with a high-level overview.

This should be a good starting point in any SEO proposal template to get the client hooked enough to continue reading.

2. Identify SEO targets

Your clients may have difficulty reading a data intensive SEO report.

However, they can understand when you explain why search engines like Google aren't ranking their website well.

A winning SEO proposal communicates in a language that resonates with the customer. Here are some examples of statements you could present:

  • "The website has too much thin content, and the quality of the content needs to go up quite a bit"
  • "Most pages have no backlinks pointing to them, which is making ranking considerably harder"
  • "The schema markup is not implemented properly"
  • "The internal linking structure is virtually non-existent"
  • "The client has a local business but no Google My Business profile"
  • "The website has too many 404 pages and redirects"

And so on.

Identify what needs to be done to improve the website's performance and explain it to the client in a language they can understand.

For example, show them that you can create high quality content around a specific keyword that will help them bring in qualified prospects to sell to.

More importantly, define targets that are realistic, attainable, and easy to explain. 

For example, increasing organic traffic by X% or improving their conversion rate.

Explain to the potential buyer that even though you are well experienced, major search engines like Google and Bing continue to evolve everyday and this is where your expertise comes in.

3. Personalize a customized SEO approach tailored to that client

Selling search engine optimization services is not like selling ice cream.

Most people love chocolate ice cream. 

Selling SEO to prospective clients is more like selling a tailored suit. You need to match the offer to their specific needs.

Explain to the client how their SEO project is unique and what you intend to employ to solve their specific pain point.

To make things easier, repeat the words that they use in discovery calls.

So, instead of saying "organic traffic", you can say "website visits", for more clarity and speaking in a language they understand.

Here are some examples of statements you can use with your clients:

  • "We'll help you get into the top 10 for your keyword by making targeted backlinks and improving the quality of your content."
  • "We'll clean up all of your technical SEO errors, allowing your website to load faster and lower the bounce rate, increasing not only rankings but also conversions."
  • "We'll conduct a thorough competitor analysis and develop a content strategy to help you beat your competitors' top-ranking keywords by writing better content and promoting it in search results with high-quality backlinks."

It's better to personalize the proposal and make the buying decision even easier for the client.

4. Show past SEO successes and testimonials

Showcase your best SEO wins. 

Don't be shy about asking for testimonials from clients you have delivered for. They'll help you acquire new customers. 

Every winning SEO proposal template includes at least one case study, because this approach works. Include an SEO case study in your proposal, regardless of who the client is.

In fact, add customer testimonials from a client similar to your prospect's industry and niche.

Don't just add graphs and the results you achieved in search engines. Add a testimonial from the previous clients, in their own words. 

Many times, that works better than any keyword rankings or other results you can show them.

Here is an example:

  • "This is a client case study from the SaaS industry. We worked with them for over a year, helping them create content, clean up technical SEO errors on their website, and build over 120 links for them. The end result was a 40% increase in organic traffic, followed by a 30% increase in organic traffic conversions."
  • "We helped this client launch a brand-new website and set up a content strategy that led to 10,000 visits in the first three months."

Make sure you spend time on building well detailed case studies and include them in your SEO pitch.

5. Specify the scope of work and deliverables

Outline the specific tasks that will be undertaken as part of the SEO project.

This could include tasks like keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, content creation, link building, and social media marketing. 

Each task should be described in detail, including the methods that will be used, the expected outcomes, and the completion timeline.

In addition to defining the tasks, the proposal should define the responsibilities of both the SEO agency and the client. 

The SEO agency's responsibilities typically include conducting SEO activities and making adjustments to the strategy as needed. 

The client's responsibilities could include giving the agency access to the website and any necessary resources like Google Analytics, reviewing and approving the SEO strategy, and working with the agency on content creation and other tasks.

6. Establish clear timelines

Establishing timelines for an SEO proposal is crucial to project management and client communication. It helps set expectations and provides a roadmap for when tasks will be completed. 

However, SEO is a long-term strategy with no immediate results, so it is important to communicate this to the client.

Each SEO task, from the initial website audit to on-page optimization and ongoing monitoring, takes a different amount of time.

The timeline for these tasks often depends on the client's needs and the agreed-upon strategy. 

For example, if the strategy is to write a couple of blog posts every week and get ten new backlinks every month, these tasks will be spread out over the course of the project.

It's important to communicate these timelines to the client in a clear and understandable way. This could include creating a project timeline that shows when each task will begin and end, as well as providing regular updates on the project's progress.

Here is an example of how you may want to list expected timelines. 

  • Week 1: Kick-off call to discuss deliverables
  • Week 2: Present SEO and content strategy
  • Week 3: Update on technical SEO issues
  • Week 4: Live content updates and a recap of the first month
  • Week 5 and onwards: weekly updates about progress

You get the idea. 

It's also important to remind the client that SEO is a long-term strategy, and it may take several months to start seeing results.

7. Offer pricing plans

You can bet that your prospect is considering other digital marketing agencies as well. 

Researching what other agencies are charging for similar SEO services can provide a benchmark. You should charge what you think is fair, but make sure to factor in the value you bring to your customers.

Transparency is important when putting your prices in the proposal. 

Break down the costs associated with each task or service you're offering.

By itemizing your services, clients can see exactly what they're paying for, which can help justify your prices. 

Depending on your conversations, you could also consider offering tiered pricing plans. 

Not every client will need or want the full range of services you offer. 

By creating tiered pricing plans, you can cater to different budgets and needs.

For example, a basic plan might only include a website audit and keyword research, whereas a premium plan might include ongoing content creation and link building.

It's also important to explain the potential return on investment (ROI) to your clients. 

SEO is an investment that, when executed properly, can generate significant returns in the form of increased traffic, leads, and sales. By demonstrating the potential ROI, you can help clients understand the value of your SEO services and why they are worth the cost.

Lastly, be flexible and open to negotiation. 

Every client is unique, with different needs and budgets. 

Be willing to adjust your pricing or offer customized packages to meet your clients' specific needs. But don't undervalue your services. 

Strike a balance between accommodating your client and ensuring that you are paid adequately for your digital marketing efforts.

8. Introduce an account manager

Appoint an account manager from your team who will manage the client's account, oversee the project, and be the main point of communication for the client.

This person will keep the project on track, communicate updates and results to the client, and address client questions and concerns. 

The account manager should be well-versed in SEO, possess strong project management skills, and have excellent communication skills. 

It's important to introduce the account manager to the client in the proposal, including their qualifications and why they are well-suited to manage the project.

In the proposal, clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of the account manager.

This includes how often and in what manner they will communicate, what types of decisions they are authorized to make, and what they will do to keep the project on track.

9. Track your success rate 

It's important to have a system in place for tracking your proposals.

This could be a simple spreadsheet where you record each proposal sent, the date it was sent, the potential client it was sent to, and the outcome of the proposal. 

You could also use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to automate this process.

When you send out an SEO proposal, record it in your tracking system. Include any relevant details, such as the potential client's name, the date the proposal was sent, and the value of the proposed contract.

Once a decision has been made on the proposal, update your tracking system with the outcome.

If the client accepted the proposal and turned into a paying client, mark this as a successful conversion. 

If the proposal was declined, record this as well. 

Note any feedback or reasons for the decision, as this can help improve future proposals.

To calculate your conversion rate, divide the number of successful conversions by the total number of proposals sent. 

Multiply this by 100 to get your conversion rate as a percentage. 

For example, if you sent out 20 proposals and 3 resulted in paying clients, your conversion rate would be 15%.

Modern proposal software lets you track how long someone reads a proposal, when they leave it, and how many sign it. You can also download free SEO proposal templates like the one above to get started.

9 point SEO proposal checklist

Make sure that you check all the boxes before sending that proposal. You don't want an oversight like bad grammar or the wrong client's name to lead to a failed proposal.

Here is a checklist for creating a winning SEO proposal.

Include a client-centric introduction

Talk about the client and not yourself. Your aim is not to show off your achievements as an SEO agency or professional. Instead, focus on the client's needs, whether it's more organic traffic, fixing meta descriptions, conversions, keyword rankings, or something else.

Talk about them, not you.

Mention your unique advantage

There are many agencies in the world that do search engine optimization. Communicate the one thing that makes you stand out from the packed crowd.

Maybe it's your unique approach, the fact that you work in a certain industry, the fast growth of your clients in the past, or a team that used to work for Google.

Align your proposal with the client's goals

The proposal should talk about how your search engine optimization work will solve a problem for the client, not about how great you are. Talk about pain points and how your work can resolve them.

Demonstrate your expertise with relevant case studies

Case studies show that you have used digital marketing to solve similar problems for similar target audiences.

Communicate a realistic timeline

Share realistic timelines with potential clients to ensure that their SEO campaign and its components are delivered on time.

Mention potential risks or uncertainties

A good marketing agency will not make guarantees about positions or rankings for the client. Explain how SEO works and that you don't have control over the search engine's algorithm.

Assure them that they are in the best possible hands and that you know what you are doing. 

Include next steps

It may sound odd, but many clients simply don't know what to do after reading an SEO proposal. Do they sign, pay, or wait for someone to get in touch? End each proposal with a strong call to action, suggesting to the client what they need to do in order to start the collaboration.

Conduct a final proofread

Grammar and spelling checkers like Grammarly can be a big help in this situation, because mistakes could turn off potential customers. Also, read the proposal at least once after writing it up to check for clarity and coherence, ensuring that all the details line up throughout the proposal.

Have a follow-up plan

Sometimes, the proposal you send out does not get signed or read immediately, and it takes some time to get a reply. Have a plan for how and when to follow up and via which channels. Some proposal tools do this automatically after a certain time period passes from the first proposal going out.

Tools for creating SEO proposals 

Here are some popular tools to help you build SEO proposals.

Better Proposals

Better Proposals is an all-in-one business proposal tool that starts with a free SEO proposal template and includes a slew of features for proposal creation, management, and tracking. Highlight features include the ability to track client interactions with the proposal, including reading time and clicks, as well as the ability to sign and pay within the web-based proposal.

Surfer

Surfer Audit can help you analyze a client's pages, showing them what needs to be improved and how. The report looks at a bunch of elements such as 

  • Content length
  • Headers
  •  NLP entity coverage
  •  Page speed
  •  Keyword density
  •  NLP Sentiment
  •  Missing backlinks
  •  Referring domains
  •  Meta tags structure

You can even send them a link to the report's dashboard. 

Slidescarnival

Well-designed presentations can help quite a bit and, at the very least, make your proposal more enjoyable to read and scroll through. With Slidescarnival, you can grab various themes for your PowerPoint presentations and Google Slides, making your proposals more engaging. 

Close CRM

The best way to achieve your business goals is to have all your client data in one place. Close is a popular choice that helps you easily store your client data in one place, track your interactions with clients, and follow up with them easily.

Key Takeaways 

  • An SEO proposal is a sales document that helps you win new clients by showcasing your agency's expertise and ability to understand and solve their problems.
  • SEO proposals matter because they convince the client that you have the expertise to solve their pain points, differentiate you from the competition, communicate a clear SEO strategy, and allow you to upsell and cross-sell existing clients.
  • To create an SEO proposal, first start with an in-depth website analysis and site audit, then identify their challenges and targets and illustrate your previous SEO wins and results. 

Conclusion 

An SEO proposal can set expectations, delight potential clients, demonstrate how you can solve their SEO needs, and get them to turn into paying customers.

Doing it properly can make the difference between a full pipeline of new clients or dry spells.

Download our SEO proposal template and start using it to convert your potential clients.

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