7 key elements of a successful SEO proposal

3rd May 2019

3rd May 2019

Introduction from Hike – this post is the second in a series which we’re calling the “Friends of Hike Guest Post Series”. Being a SaaS/marketing company we have friends in lots of different companies, all who expertise in their specialist area. And we want to share their best tips – their best ‘knowledge’ – that can help YOU with your SEO. It’s all about sharing value.

It’s also to demonstrate to our users, and those small businesses/startups, that there are great opportunities for building links to your website if you participate in this ‘expertise sharing economy’. This is exactly what the future of link building looks like, and it’s what Google envisioned as the purpose of links.

The guys at Better Proposals who wrote this post (which, BTW, is a great article if you’re an agency who wants to gain more SEO clients) have included a backlink to their site. And we are HAPPY to include it, as they are providing true value to our blog and to our users.

So without further ado, enjoy the second guest post in this new series…

SEO proposal tips

Winning new SEO business can be incredibly difficult – almost as difficult as building legitimate links in 2019. Especially if you’re pitching to a prospect that knows very little about internet marketing in general, let alone SEO, getting them on board as a client can be extremely difficult.

While there is a multitude of factors involved in attracting new SEO clients, this is not to say that getting new business is impossible. There are quite a few elements that you can influence, and one of them is business proposals.

By learning how to write an effective SEO business proposal, you will save more time, get more clients and hopefully, improve your bottom line. Here are the elements of a successful SEO business proposal.

The proposal template

When you work on on-page SEO for a client, you probably use a template to help you with the process. Similarly, when you do link building and outreach, you also have templates for contacting targets. So why would you write each proposal from scratch, if you can simply use a template?

Instead of writing SEO business proposals from scratch every time, write one good proposal. Take your time with the copy, the arrangement of the sections and the design. Once you have that perfect proposal, save it and use it as a template for all the proposals in the future.

The key in nailing a template is knowing which elements to edit. If you create a template that works, you can re-use it as much as you want, just changing one of the elements we’re about to discuss.

You can create templates yourself in a word processor, but that would be far too time-consuming. Instead, use a good proposal software (such as Better Proposals, or another alternative) which will help you automate the bulk of the proposal writing processes.

The introduction

This is where your clients will spend the most time. It’s the most read element of every proposal next to the pricing, so you really need to get it right and attract interest from the start. You can do this by knowing the client’s needs and desires – and the best way to do this is by listening to them. If you’ve had a kick-off call or meeting, use this information for the introduction.

In this section, tell the client how you solve their pain point, plain and simple. By plain and simple, I mean replicate their own language.

  • Do they want more traffic?
  • Do they have great content but no backlinks?
  • Do they want to rank better for a certain keyword?
  • Do they understand the point of ranking well but not sure what kind of ROI it brings to them?

Use their own words and repeat them back to them. Don’t use industry jargon or overcomplicate – no schema markups, white-hat strategies, internal linking, etc. Keep it simple so that the client can understand what you want to do and what they get from it.

Detailed specification

This is the part that gets slightly less attention, but it’s equally important. In the detailed specification, clarify exactly what you are going to do, with all the intricacies and details.

For example – you will outreach to 20 industry-relevant websites per month or fix their on-page SEO and improve their website load speed. As you’re probably well aware, you can’t really promise a jump in X number of positions, so try to stay away from any claims of that sort.

But you can promise an increase in their rankings as an average and that you’ll focus on specific terms.

This is the section where :

A) You show the client you really are the SEO expert you claim to be and,

B) You refer to in case there are any disagreements later on.

The timeline

As you probably know, any SEO work takes time to see tangible results. In this section, list when you’re able to do the tasks from the earlier sections.

You can’t really guarantee specific results for a given time period in the future, so try not to be too specific about increasing a client’s page rank or something similar.

However, be very specific about when you can complete your part of the job.

The proof

Do you know how some clients can be skeptical about what SEO can do for them? That’s mostly because they haven’t had first-hand experience with this type of internet marketing before.

In this section, you can give them proof of the work you did for clients similar to them. Obviously, this is the part in your proposal template which will need to get edited every time. It may sound like extra work, but the end result is worth the extra effort in finding the right use case as proof.

The pricing section

We won’t get into how to price for SEO, because that’s a complicated topic as is (here’s a guide that will help though).

However, how you present the price to the client within the proposal can make a world of difference and increase your chances of the proposal being signed.

Rule #1 – be mindful of your phrasing. Don’t use “pricing” as the name of the section. Instead, go for something like “investment”, “ROI”, or “return on investment”. Clients will see the spend on SEO as an investment instead of cost. It may sound like a wild guess, but we’ve proven this in our research with hundreds of thousands of proposals.

Rule #2 – no upsells. By offering many things at once, you risk your client making no choice at all. On the other hand, with just one offer, all they can do is say yes or no and sign the proposal. Avoid upsells if you can, because they lower your chances of the proposal being signed and you risk confusing the client instead of convincing them.

The next steps

By now, you have your client ready to get started. Instead of letting them wonder what they have to do, provide them with instructions on the next steps. I.e. sign the proposal, have a kick-off meeting, initiate work.

It sounds logical, but many businesses simply omit this part!

Conclusion

Getting new SEO clients can sometimes seem like a drag, but it’s not that complicated if you have the right systems in place. If you use these key elements in your SEO business proposals, you’re sure to write proposals more quickly and have more signed proposals than ever before.

If you’re looking to pick up on some more proposal writing tips and learn how to write business proposals in 2019, check out the 2019 Proposal Report – with findings from more than 180,000 signed proposals.

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Author bio: Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals, simple proposal software for creating beautiful, high-impact proposals in minutes. Having helped his customers at Better Proposals win $120,000,000+ in one year only, he has launched the first Proposal Writing University where he shares business proposal best practices.

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