How to Write an SEO Proposal that Lands New Clients
A written proposal is crucial to both closing a deal, as well as onboarding a new client. It sets expectations, and serves as the last bid for your business.
What your client expects to see in a proposal
1. Your offering. This is a general summary of the services you offer, as well as the resources and expertise you possess that make your offering valuable.
- They want to know what you are offering. It may seem unnecessary at first, since you already explained the ins and outs of your services to them at a meeting. But your client may have forgot. Or didn’t even had a chance to focus on all your services among so many things you have discussed.
- A proposal is a great way to remind them of everything that your work entails, what’s involved in the SEO process and what typical resources you need to complete the project.
- The scope of work you intent to be carrying for them. Secondly, the client will be interested in seeing what exactly do you plan to deliver for them and how.
- Your price. Naturally, they also want to know how much the whole project is going to cost them.
- Your terms and conditions. Lastly, before agreeing to work with you, they will want to know what are the terms and conditions they will be bound by during your work.
Failing to include any of this information in your proposal might result in it being rejected by the client.
How to structure your proposal
There are certain elements of a proposal you should include. Depending on the size of the proposal and the client, you may be able to skip some of them. In general however, a typical proposal for SEO services should include:
Your document should start with a condensed version of the proposal, a few paragraphs outlining all information you want to communicate to the client. Many clients will look only at this section so make sure it’s clear, concise, well written and includes everything the client needs to know.
Definition of a Problem
This section should outline in great detail the problem the client originally came to you with. It should also list everything that is wrong with a client’s site. The list however shouldn’t be restricted to SEO only. If you found other problems with the site too – content, message etc. – include them as well. Let your client know the full scope of issues that might impact your work.
Benefits of SEO
You should follow that by outlining the benefits of doing SEO and how your client could gain from it. Don’t oversell but convince them why they should engage an SEO firm to fix issues you found.
Next you should detail your recommendations. Be very specific; list all solutions you propose, i.e.
- Creating a blog
- Developing a content strategy
- Link building campaign
- Running A/B testing
- Optimizing the website
- Keyword research
Remember that apart from creating a scope of work, this section will also work as a justification of your fee. There is a big chance that your client doesn’t understand what’s involved in delivering an SEO service. Thus they might question your price. Unless of course you tell them exactly how much work will be involved in their project.
Since your proposal will most likely be passed around between many people, you also to include a section introducing yourself and your business. It should describe your firm, briefly outline its history and present why it is the perfect choice for this project.
This is a best place to mention any award or accreditations you may have.
Proof of credibility
You also need to show some proof why you think your company is ideal to deliver this work. Some of the best ways to do this include:
- Presenting other client logos. Include a page that presents past and present companies you have helped. If you can include some big companies, or companies your client might know and trust, do so. Their logos will help to convince them to hire you, simply.
- Including case studies. If you can, include a case study similar to a project you propose to deliver for the client. This might help them make the project easier to relate to.
- Showing testimonials. If you can’t include a case study, offer some testimonials instead. They are a great social proof confirming your authority on the subject.
This is probably one of the most important sections of the whole proposal. The majority of your clients will first check this page before reading anything else.
Therefore, explain the price as clearly as possible. List all items you will be charging for. If you offer price plans, offer some alternative ones too with short information about them. This will not only give your clients a choice your clients but offer a price reference point.
Your proposal should also include proposed timelines for the project. Ideally, this should be broken to milestones. Later, you can use this as a basis for scheduling the project and identifying tasks both parties need to complete to reach each milestone.
Terms and Conditions
A major part of your proposal should include your terms and conditions. You should detail every aspect of how your work – from payment terms, deliveries, responsibilities to timelines, deadlines and many other things. Don’t be afraid to include a long list of T&C’s. It is crucial that you inform your customer about every single aspect of working with you before the work commences.
Proposed next steps
Your proposal should also define the next steps after singing it off. Who is going to be in touch first? What materials do you need to receive from your client before you can start the work? When do you need it for to be able to meet the first milestone?
Define every action that needs to be taken to move the project from proposal stage to the actual work. By listing them in the proposal, you take the pressure of having to take the next step off the client and put yourself in control instead.
Things to avoid in business proposals
- Making promises. It can be tempting to make promises in your proposal: “X improvement in traffic in X weeks” and so on. After all, that’s what your client wants to hear. But you know very well that you can’t be specific about these things. Avoid making promises your client might then pick you up on.
- Praising Yourself. It can also be tempting to try and present your firm in the most favorable light. But just as it is important that you do outline why you are ideal to deliver the work, avoid being too self-promotional. This might immediately put the client off hiring you.
Best practices when writing proposals for SEO work
Don’t overload your proposal with text. It might be tempting to create a very long proposal. After all, it should look more professional this way. No client however will have the time to go through all this information. Include only the most necessary information in your proposal, leaving out the fluff.
Grab their attention with the opening statement. Executive summary is often the only section clients review (apart from price of course). Therefore, you need to make sure that you grab their attention from the first sentence. State the problem and focus on benefits, avoiding self praise.
Use images and graphs. If possible, use as much visual content as possible. It will be easier and faster for clients to absorb it, making much stronger impression on them at the same time.
Present pricing options. I mentioned already that you shouldn’t list the price in isolation. Instead, give your client a reference point. Without it, how could they know if the price is fair or way too high. Listing two other price options, smaller and larger, puts the main one in context, helping them to make a choice.
Focus on presentation. How you present your proposal is equally important as its content. If you can, create a nice looking PDF, with a striking cover and beautiful page template. If however you can’t do that, create a simple Word document but in this case, avoiding trying to improve pages in any way. Most of the time, it won’t look well, making the wrong first impression.
Make it personal. Your client wants to work with humans, therefore make your proposal personal. Introduce yourself and your team and show a human side. Also, include a list of ways to communicate with you so your client knows that whoever will be working on their project is only an email / phone call away.