7 Things to Include in Your SEO Proposal Template

Adam Steele
Mar 17

If you’ve ever tried pitching a new SEO client you’ll know this:

Having a great SEO proposal template can make pitching your services far easier.

Maybe you already have one. But are you sure it has everything it needs to create the right impression? 

If not, you’re in the right place. 

In this guide, you’re going to learn what an SEO proposal is, what to include in it, and how to present it in a way that shows off your value.

At the end of this guide, you’ll find some free SEO proposal templates that are already built out and ready for your customizations. 

But first, let’s look at what it means to create an SEO proposal:

What is an SEO services proposal?

A standard business proposal is just a document designed to convince a client to purchase services. Proposals lay out what services are being recommended. When written well, they describe how these services will play directly into the client’s goals. 

An SEO services proposal is the document that describes what you’re going to offer a client over the course of a contract for SEO services. 

The quality of your SEO proposal matters because it’s part of the important step in the buying process. Proposals aren’t for strangers. They’re for possible clients who have already discussed their needs with you several times and have expressed interest in the next step.

These are people ready to be convinced. If you express yourself well, you are one coffee meeting away from a conversion.

The proposal should be the best argument that you can make that you have been listening to their problems, and have the power to solve them. The goal of writing better SEO proposals is to win more clients.

Let’s look at the elements of an SEO proposal that help you pull that off. 

What to include in your SEO proposal?

Business proposals have a format that has evolved over centuries. Most SEO professionals follow this format because their clients in other industries expect it.

If you aren’t familiar with that, don’t worry. 

In this section, you’re going to learn about each part that belongs in a comprehensive SEO proposal for clients and how to make them stand out. You need to make the right decisions when it comes to the:

  1. Introduction
  2. Specific insights
  3. Deliverables
  4. Goals
  5. Timeline
  6. Cost
  7. Calls to action

Let’s start with your first impression.

1) Introduction

A proposal is a sales pitch, so the first thing you need to do is to introduce yourself and the agency that you’re representing. 

Depending on who you’re pitching, you may want to go one of several different directions to highlight what you offer.

Here are some examples of how you showcase in the introduction, and why each one matters: 

What differentiates your agency? 

Describe what sets your agency apart from others. If a prospect is accepting multiple proposals, this is an important way to stand out early in the document.

What services do you offer? 

Describe your services and how they help. This matters because it’s your chance to put your services in the context of your prospect’s business. When describing the services, use examples that feature how your solutions fit in their operations. 

Why should the client choose you? 

Make a case for why you’re the best choice. Try to stick to achievements and credentials you can provide sources for rather than bragging. You can do this by: 

  • Highlighting your agency’s experience with similar niches
  • Mentioning past wins, clients or links to any case studies
  • Mentioning awards and certifications

This is a lot of information, but you want to keep this section short, so be selective with whatever gives you the best first impression. After that, you’ll want to focus on the specific insights that you can bring to the project. 

2) Specific Insights

At the point that you’re creating the proposal, you should have a good understanding of the problem your prospect wants you to solve. That’s why your next priority should be showing how much insight you can apply to that problem.

Do that by examining the client’s site and using data that is specific to it’s problems. 

For example, you can use graphs to demonstrate how their traffic has stalled over time, or how they’ve lost ranks to more versatile competitors.

In many cases, SEO proposals are going to propose more than one service. In order to tie all of the services together, you may want to include site data such as:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Audit results
  • Content performance
  • Bounce rates
  • Flagged site errors

You’ll want to connect each of these issues to the services that are intended to correct them. This provides the client with a good overview of how well you understand their problems and how your agency is committed to confronting them.

In this section, you’re still working on persuasion. The next section is the one that begins to break down the specific work that will be done.

3) Deliverables

In this section, you’re going to lay out what will be provided to the client in concrete terms. Each item in this section should be specific and quantifiable.

For example, you may want to begin the relationship with a series of intense audits. You would want to reflect these in the deliverables section like so:

Phase I: Initial Audits 

  • 1x Content Audit (2hr)
  • 1x Link Audit (2hr)
  • 1x Keyword Audit (2hr)
  • 1x Site Audit (2hr)

For each of these items, you should list the estimated billable hours. Explain how the deliverables will be submitted. In this case, each of these items will likely be delivered as a report. 

Later phases of deliverables may be presented like this.

Phase II: Monthly SEO Optimizations  

  • New site content (5 pages/month)
  • Refreshing on-site content (5 pages/month)
  • Citation building (200 placements/month)
  • Link Building (5 placements/month)
  • Technical fixes and optimizations (15hr/month)

As in the earlier example, make sure that you clarify how each of these items is going to be delivered.

You don’t want to get into cost just yet. Before you do that, you’re going to put these services into the context of the goals they are going to achieve.

4) Goals

Goals are vital for any complete proposal. SEO is a complex art that deals with dozens of tricky signals. If you don’t clarify what’s going to change and why it matters, your client can very easily become frustrated.

This is not a hypothetical problem. Some of the most extensive polling ever performed of SEO clients revealed that:

“SEO provider turnover is high. 65% of our panel stated that they’ve worked with several different SEO providers. 25% have worked with 3 or more providers”
(source)

Setting goals will enable you to point to performance with confidence. You will often want to focus on specific signals such as:

  • Increase traffic to page/pages by X%
  • Improve rank position for certain searches by X
  • Get placed on X number of sites or specific valuable sites

Make sure that you specify how the goals are going to be served by your deliverables. For example, your content deliverables should be attached to the goals that are associated with rank.

5) Timeline

You need to cover the timeline carefully when you’re creating proposals. 

SEO is not a “quick fix”. 

  • New websites have to live in a sandbox where they can’t rank as effectively. 
  • Some signals don’t respond for a couple of months, even with the right action.
  • Optimization that’s too aggressive can attract penalties. 

When you’re developing your timeline, space out short-term and long-term solutions so that the long-term solutions can do their work while you’re still delivering results to the client.

Once you’ve explained the timeline, you’re ready to start talking about cost.

6) Cost

The cost section is where you explain the amount you’re asking to put the proposal into action. 

This can be presented in several ways. 

They may agree to an “all-inclusive” number that covers all of your deliverables in goals. They may also ask to see each type of deliverable or each phase listed by cost. 

Remember, someone may be interested in working with you, even if they don’t like the proposal you’ve given them. Try to organize the costs so they can easily break the project into the parts they feel they need most.

It’s wise to have some early conversations about the budget with your client before you complete the full proposal. It’s best to know what they’re expecting so the numbers don’t come as a shock. 

7) Call to Action

This is the final section of the proposal. This is where you make your closing statement. Thank them for considering your proposal and providing them with information about how to contact you. 

Contact information might seem like an obvious addition, but remember that this proposal may pass in front of a lot of eyes. You want people involved to be able to contact you easily. That’s vital for closing.

With this section complete, you’re ready to start developing your own proposal. 

5 Tips for writing an SEO proposal

Here are some tips on how you can write your own SEO proposal. These tips will tell you how to make the most out of the free templates at the end.

  • Sell the benefits of SEO: Don’t assume the client understands as much as you do about how much power these strategies can have. Sell the value of what you do beyond a traditional advertising relationship. 
  • Build a rapport with the prospective client: No proposal is going to be effective if you don’t have enough of a relationship to know what the client wants. A rapport is a key part of creating a proposal that speaks to specific needs.
  • Present your proposal professionally: The SEO proposal doc should be a beautiful document. It should be well-formatted, well-edited, and ready to be seen by judgemental eyes.
  • Propose with a purpose (and goals): It’s all about the end goal for most businesses, so don’t lose sight of what they want. Every section should build toward the goals.
  • Don’t overcomplicate things: Filling your proposal with jargon isn’t going to impress anyone and may alienate clients. That’s just one more reason to stay focused on benefits.

Use these (FREE) SEO proposal examples

To help you create your proposal, we found some the best templates on the web to take inspiration from:

Turn Conversations into Conversions

You’re now ready to submit improved SEO proposals to your prospective clients.  

You’ve learned what a proposal is, what sections it should include, and how to make it as effective as possible. Best of luck in the future, turning proposals into lasting partnerships.

Written by Aaron Haynes on March 17, 2020

CEO and partner at Loganix, I believe in taking what you do best and sharing it with the world in the most transparent and powerful way possible. If I am not running the business, I am neck deep in client SEO.

Now it’s your turn.

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