10 things to put in your SEO proposal

Ian Lurie

It’s hard to write an SEO proposal. Clients are skeptical. You’re skeptical. Hell, everyone’s skeptical.
But there are some things that can help. These are a few of the components I put into any proposal – these avoid misunderstandings, set expectations and help me seal the deal.

  1. The price. Don’t hide the price. Do put it at the end. And include 2-3 levels. Clients like options, as long as you don’t present a menu with 60 choices on it.
  2. Your process. And I don’t mean a flow chart with cryptic stuff like ‘content analysis’. I mean a description of each major step: “We’ll use our crawler to analyze your site, checking for anything that might prevent search engines from completely crawling your content. Then…” etc.
  3. Your tools. Describe whatever technologies you use to help with SEO. Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, it demonstrates you know your stuff.
  4. What you’ll do for them. Don’t just prattle on about how cool you are. Write about your process and technology in the context of the client’s project. They’ll stay engaged.
  5. Relevant case studies. A few relevant examples of work you’ve done won’t hurt. Doesn’t have to be in the same industry, but if you can show a similar challenge, and how you overcame it, you’ll get a nice leg up on your competitors.
  6. Real results. Don’t show rankings in your case studies! At least, don’t stop there. Show changes in traffic and sales. Get permission from other clients before you do this.
  7. A message from the CEO. I still write most of our proposals, so I don’t often need to do this. But a message to the reader from the CEO, that’s clearly written for that potential client, will make it clear you’re a real company.
  8. Labor sources. Point out how you get your work done. If it’s all in-house, explain it to justify your cost. If it’s all offshore, explain it to justify the fact that everything will need to be done twice.
  9. No sales talk. Don’t promise you’ll get a top ranking. First, you can’t do that, and you know it. Second, any intelligent marketer will know you’re full of crap.
  10. Next steps. At the end, clearly point out the next step: “Call me to review this proposal”. You’d be amazed the difference that can make.

There you have it – my recipe for a successful SEO proposal.
If you want to see an example, check out this out-of-date but still relevant intro to one of our typical proposals:

By the way, if I see competitor proposals with rats, I’ll find you.

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  1. This is great information. At what point do you discuss price? I would think it would be more toward the end of the initial conservation.
    I’m definitely going to use your ideas except for the rats…you can keep the rats.

  2. And this is what we should expect in any SEO proposal for our sites! I have been looking into getting some SEO advice, but have been rather keen to avoid those not really up to scratch.
    If they dont have this type of quality in their proposals, we now know what to avoid, and to what to look out for instead.

  3. I found “The Million Dollar Consultant” to be really helpful in creating proposals. It covers number six on your list in great depth — how to spell out the results you’ll create for your client.

  4. Hey Ian,
    I really want to thank you for this article. I’m starting an SEO firm in Mexico and it’s hard to get info on how to engage clients.
    SEO is a virgin island out here, but we are trying to change that.
    Keep it up,
    Munir Hamdan

  5. Love this! THanks:) I’m writing a proposal presently for a big client and started to fly off on all sorts of tangents – so thank you. I love your little rat vid – promise I won’t use a rat in my next proposal:)

  6. Great stuff. Was a little unsure of the right approach to take for creating a proposal. This will help no end.

  7. Fantastic step by step list covering things the client actually wants to know. I also find including a few related FAQs at the bottom a great way to answer any objections they may have and to provide them with more insight.

  8. Thank you so much for this! Proposals for large prospects always seem so daunting and I love having some straight forward guidelines like this. Keeps me focused!

  9. An excellent and thorough article on creating SEO Proposals.

    I found it challenging at first, but this article helped me a lot.

    Thank you

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