The Anatomy of The Perfect SEO Proposal


SEO agencies win and lose potential clients due to the substance of their proposals (among other things). The typical freelancer, also, has little to no idea as to what should or should not be included in a SEO proposal, along with the level of detail or simplicity they should go with.

Hopefully, this guide can be a helpful resource for agencies and analysts alike who are looking for a good structure to follow:

1. Introduce Your Company

Start your proposal with a compelling introduction. The goal is to make your business stand out from other agencies with similar services. This is the part where you sell yourself to motivate clients to keep reading what you have to offer.

The introductory section should include the following:

  • About us – How did your agency get started? What services do you offer? What’s your mission and vision?
  • Unique selling proposition – Why should people work with your agency? Offer a unique selling proposition and a general overview of your strategy and solutions.
  • Past experience – Mention past achievements, awards or certifications. Emphasize significant results and impact generated from past clients. If you have published case studies for past projects, then include the links in the proposal.
  • Team – As a SEO agency, you’re not just selling the brand, but also the reliable experts in your team. If you’re working with a small team, showcase your team members and their expertise. Alternatively, if your team is too large, highlight the team leaders and their achievements.

The introduction should be brief, yet compelling. Make a good first impression to pique the interest of your clients.

2. Identify The Goals & Insights

At the time of your initial consultation, you probably asked the client about their goals for the website and the company (if you didn’t, you may want to do so moving forward). With this information, you can create personalized objectives that match your client’s expectations.

Whether you decide to include due dates is to your discretion, as this may or may not align with your clients own timeline. It is usually safe to include a range, so both parties are tied to a certain outcome without either being blindsided by it later in the campaign.

You may want to identify the potential problems the client may face by running a full site crawl and researching on site’s backlinks, keywords, content and competitors.

This could boost your credibility, as you’ve demonstrated your willingness to dedicate time and energy to understanding their needs. On the flipside, you may want to exclude such insights until after they have signed the contract. There is no need to give away free work if they ultimately decide to go with someone else (we know this feeling first hand!)

3. Discuss The Solutions

Not every SEO agency offers the same services. While it is the same discipline of increasing visibility in the SERPs, how that is achieved varies greatly among each provider.

Identify your methodology and how many stages your campaign will expand over. It is at this junction where you mention services you could offer, such as:

  • Website analytics
  • Keyword research
  • Technical audit
  • Content strategy
  • Content creation
  • Website optimization
  • Link building
  • Manual outreach
  • Rank tracking
  • Progress reporting

You may provide recommendations, without actually handling the delivery. You may do both. Or, you may offer some of these services at an additional cost. This breakdown of base services and optional add-ons essentially describe the type of agency you are.

Make it perfectly clear what is on the table, and at what rate.

4. Pitch The Investment

Now we have to discuss money. Framing it as an investment is ideal, as it truly will increase traffic and subsequent conversions. A return-on-investment (ROI) calculator could even be included to really drive this point home.

Here’s a list of things to consider when explaining the cost:

  • Pricing structure – Outline the cost, whether it is a flat monthly fee or hourly based, and if so, the allotted number of hours they can expect to be billed per month (minimum and maximum hours are also an option).
  • Invoicing – List payment options, with any penalties for missed deadlines.
  • Timeline – Include a timeline, list of milestones and metrics to monitor. This helps set realistic expectations so clients can monitor the results of your services and see if they are getting what they paid for.
  • Terms and conditions – Any rules, requirements and conditions to be followed by each party, including cancellations and refunds among other things.

5. Go For The Hail Mary

A SEO proposal should end with a compelling call to action. It shouldn’t just include your contact details and the next steps clients can take to start the project. That’s what every other SEO agency does.

This is your final plea to bring them over the line and convince them you are the best option for their SEO efforts!

Pretend they have read nothing in the entire proposal. It may very well be the case, as most people simply skim or scan the proposal rather quickly.

Include every possible reason the potential client will want to work with you. This includes your:

  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Processes
  • Previous clients
  • Awards and badges
  • Availability
  • Transparency
  • Response times
  • Customer service
  • Reputation
  • Published works
  • Competitive pricing

And a few more you can think of yourself that will make your proposal all the more enticing.

6. Make The Design Outstanding

And we do mean outstanding. Make it pop. Make it stand out from the rest of the boring, drab and dull proposals you’re used to seeing when you search “SEO proposal examples” into Google.

Don’t let your research, energy and marketing efforts go to nothing all because of a subpar appearance. Whether we data analysts like it or not, design matters. People, including those in the C-suite, don’t always make decisions based on logic and rationale. With that in mind, you need to make sure there is no reason they don’t decide to go with your agency — design included.

As such, we highly recommend you go with a professional proposal design software. Our favorites are Better Proposals, Nusii and Bonsai. Either one will help you catch your potential client’s eye and leave a lasting impression, increasing your chances ever so greatly to securing that contract.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t been successful in gaining new SEO clients, your proposal may be the reason. Invest the time, energy and resources now to boost your close rate – it’s the best thing you could do today for your agency and yourself.

About the author

Sebastian Hovv

Sebastian is the founder of SEO 101, a SEO agency for startups. He is also the author of "The Little White Book of SEO" and curates a weekly marketing newsletter just for fun.