Sample SEO proposal template

Ian Lurie

This isn’t the proposal template we use. But it seems to be the one a lot of other folks use, and they’re all doing OK. So feel free to use this as your template:

To: Name of client
From: Name of you
Date: Hopefully today

Dear Name of client:

Generic introduction with pleasantries. Reference to how much you enjoyed intro call where you explained why it might be hard to get a #1 ranking for “poker” for a site that’s 100% Flash-based.

Generic, ambiguous scope of work that includes words like “engagement” and “success” without definition.

Headline, underlining important unique coolness of your company

Team member list, padded with every administrative assistant at the office so you Sound Big.

Statement of how long company has been in business. Start date = When you decided to start an SEO company while eating a Snickers bar in your basement bedroom at your parents’ house, way back in 2003.

Headline, underlining important unique coolness of your Sekrit SEO Technique

Fancy name for your SEO process, often ending with words like “destroyer,” “crusher,” and “exploder.”

Hopelessly complex, circular description of the SERP destroyer-crusher-exploder process. Evasion. Ambiguity.

Sly reference to People You Know At Google, leaving out the fact that your contact is a chef.

Testimonials from friends

Statements from people who owe you big. Claims of miraculous overnight ranking improvements. Lack of reference to specific terms, traffic, or financial gain. Photo (taken in dimly lit hotel lobby or conference area) of happy ‘client’ with smile that looks like they’ve been constipated since last Monday.

Guarantee, but of absolutely nothing

Guarantee that actually guarantees nothing. Promise fantastic success, at some point in the next 1,000,000,000 years.

Broad statement of factors, so that you can claim success if a hurricane wipes out all of the client’s competitors.

Pricing, with benefits

Bizarre pricing scheme based on the US Tax Code, average price of a barrel of oil, and your need to buy a new car.

Tuchus-stabbing contract condition that most clients miss because by now they’re sick of reading and just want to get started. ‘Tuchus’ is Yiddish for ‘butt’.

Promise that you’ll never call them back

Communications ‘guidelines’ written to sound chummy, but carefully designed to protect you from ever having to actually speak to the client.

Reporting requirements that summarize this statement: “We will print out Google Analytics reports and e-mail them to you.”

Sign here,


I really think this has promise. Use it, and you’ll go places.

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

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  1. Ha! I got a random spam email the other day (the latest in a long line), promising to put me on the front page of Google. Sure, but for what? Hamster dance classes? Or something relevant and competitive?

  2. That’s actually a lot better than some I’ve received, at least the spelling is OK, and all of words are right order in. 😉

  3. I am going to apply this template to every contract I have. I am definitely revising Communication Guidelines and adding zeros to guarantees’ deadlines. I was doing it all wrong!
    Thank you, Ian, for informative and entertaining post.

  4. Ian, what do you do if you outsource portions of your SEO work? Is there a way to prevent the client or the outsourced vendor from contacting the client?

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