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How to Write a Winning SEO Proposal (Free Proposal Template)

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

Congratulations on getting to the point that you’re ready to sell SEO services! You’ve successfully designed your packages and you’ve dialed in your pricing. Your marketing is now generating the right type of leads and you know how to run an effective SEO discovery call. Now it’s time to create a winning SEO proposal. One that you can use as a template to jumpstart your customization efforts for each potential client.

Creating a winning SEO proposal template will help you close more business and save you time during the sales process.

In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to create a template that suits your agency’s needs. We will go through this step by step, but feel free to jumpstart your efforts by downloading our FREE SEO proposal template.

What to Include in a Winning SEO Proposal

A typical SEO proposal includes the following five sections:

1. Define the Problem & Set Goals in an Introductory Letter

Start with an introductory letter that thanks your potential client for the time they spent on the SEO discovery call. Then prove that you’ve truly listened to the client by reiterating back to them their pain point(s) and goals.

What’s the biggest problem your prospect faces? During the SEO discovery call, you learned about your client’s specific needs and concerns by asking questions like, “How have you approached SEO in the past?”.

This question typically elicits responses such as:

  • “I don’t know where to start with SEO.”
  • “I can’t find my business on Google.”
  • “I used to get more traffic from Google, but the results seem to be slipping.”
  • “I’ve spent a lot of money on SEO in the past, and I’m not sure what I’ve gotten in return.”
  • “I built a new website, and I’m worried I’m going to lose my current results when I send it live.”

Referring directly to the worries the client mentioned during the SEO discovery call in the SEO Proposal shows you clearly understand your client’s needs. Showing that you can empathize with their problems and offer active solutions is our starting point.

With the pain clearly described, you’ll want to then outline some of the client’s campaign or business goals.

You might be tempted to set unrealistic goals like doubling traffic from Google or ranking a specific keyword on page 1 of the search results. At Pathfinder SEO we recommend avoiding this type of goal setting for two important reasons:

  • They are hard to guarantee. Next to impossible, really. SEO is continually evolving and thus unpredictable.
  • They don’t address what your prospect really wants and needs; business growth.

A client’s goals are widely similar: improving rankings, increasing traffic, and generating more leads/sales. But these are just a means to an end. Try to dig deeper than the surface of things when choosing your campaign goals. During the SEO discovery call, it’s wise to ask this exact question: “What would your business look like if Google sent you twice as much traffic as they do today?” This answer to this type of specific question tells you what the end destination truly looks like from your client’s perspective.

Examples of responses you may hear include:

  • “I would add a second location.
  • “I would hire an assistant and take more vacation this year.”
  • “I would pay off a small business loan.”
  • “I would add more vehicles to our fleet.”

You quickly discover that your client doesn’t just want more traffic to their website. They want the tangible benefits that having more traffic will bring. This is ultimately the end destination and what you are selling.

Here’s an example:

Dear [Prospect Name],

Thank you for your interest in SEO. We’re excited about the prospect of working together to increase organic search traffic to your website.

Based on our recent conversation, your business isn’t experiencing the growth you’d like to see. You built a beautiful new website last year, but leads and traffic haven’t followed.

The proposal below details how we’ll approach this problem by implementing a holistic approach to SEO, which will move your business towards long-term success.

And if we heard you correctly, your business’ success means adding a new location this year.

The proposed project is an SEO Assessment. During this phase of work, we will build your website’s SEO foundation.

I will follow up again next week. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

2. Describe the Strategy

Now it’s time to describe your agency’s approach to SEO. This is the strategic section of the proposal.

Like Pathfinder SEO, you may want to explain that you deliver SEO services in a holistic way. This strategy is rooted in real-world marketing best practices. It follows a framework that strengthens a client’s website across four areas:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content
  • On-Site SEO
  • Off-Site SEO

You’ll also want to explain that you’ll address SEO by building a foundation in three distinct phases:

  • SEO Assessment
  • SEO Set-Up
  • Monthly SEO Services

Be sure to add a few notes about what makes your agency unique at the close. Doing so establishes more rapport and reminds the client that they’ve come to the right place for their SEO needs.

Here’s an example template highlighting this:

Free Download: SEO Proposal Template

Don’t spend hours creating your own SEO proposal. Jumpstart your efforts with this SEO Proposal template.

3. Define the Scope of Services

In the next section of the proposal, move on to describing the proposed scope of services.

This will be specific to whichever SEO package you are proposing. You’ve already outlined what is included in each of your SEO packages and so this step should be easy.

Here’s an example of what it might look like to describe the SEO Set-Up; where we solidify a client’s SEO foundation:

SEO SET-UP

This is a one-time project which will establish a solid foundation for long-term growth. The project contains four phases as noted below:

Onboarding

  • We get to know your business and your immediate goals while also ensuring we have the resources we need to be successful. This includes obtaining access to your website, Google Analytics, and verifying your website with the Google Search Console.

Research & Strategy
This phase focuses on analysis and strategic planning.

  • Keyword Research: In-depth research to identify the words your audience searches for on Google.
  • Competitive Analysis: A thorough high-level review of your top competitors.
  • Content Strategy: An in-depth review of the website’s current content performance and rankings with a crafted content plan for future growth; including creating a strategic content calendar.
  • Off-site SEO Strategy: A review of current domain authority and any existing backlink network(s) to craft a link building strategy based on real-world marketing.

Implementation
This phase includes tasks that are completed on the website to ensure it meets SEO best practices.

  • XML Sitemap: Create an automatically generated sitemap that acts as the website’s resume to the search engines.
  • Robots.txt: File creation/update. A robots.txt file tells the search engines which parts of a website we want them to avoid crawling and indexing.
  • 301 Redirects: Respond to the page not found errors in Google Search Console by creating 301 redirects to improve website crawlability. Alternatively, if this is for a new website in development, then map old URLs to new URLs to ensure a seamless transition.
  • Page Titles & Meta Descriptions: Create a custom title and description for each top-level page of the client’s website. Automate this for frequently updated content types such as blog posts.
  • Alternative Text: Update and optimize descriptive text for images on your top-performing website pages.
  • Headers: Review existing headers, updating content and hierarchy based on keyword research.
  • Google Maps: Create/update listing.

Results & Transition to Monthly Services
Expect to see improvement in the search results within mere weeks of completing the implementation step. Review the initial results with the client and transition them to a monthly SEO service.

4. Pricing & Timelines

Note the project pricing and the proposed timeline from start to finish. Not sure how to price the offering? Here’s a blog post that will help you develop a profitable SEO services pricing strategy.

5. Agreement

The final step is the agreement itself. Don’t fill the SEO proposal with pages upon pages of legal language.

Instead, include a final page that confirms the client’s intention to proceed with the project. State that this SEO project falls under your Masters Services Agreement (that’s where the actual contract should live), and provide that legal document separately from the SEO Proposal.

The agreement is worded simply:

By signing this Scope of Services, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the proposed scope of services therein.

All services rendered are subject to our Master Services Agreement.

To accept, please sign and date below.

If you don’t yet have a Master Services Agreement, reach out to your attorney to craft one. If your services include building WordPress websites, then also check out Monster Contracts.

Additional Tips

A winning SEO proposal shouldn’t include any new or surprising information. It simply solidifies what you already discussed during the SEO discovery call.

Ultimately, having taken the time for a short discovery call pays dividends down the road.

  • It saves you from drafting a proposal that isn’t in the range of the client’s budget.
  • It shortens the sales process by establishing trust right out of the gate.
  • It creates a partnership dynamic through discussion versus dictation.
  • Interviewing a client helps to predict whether or not they will be a good/repeat client to collaborate with.

What's Next?

Work on creating a proposal template for each of your SEO services — the SEO Assessment, SEO Set-Up, and Monthly SEO Service(s).

Now, you’re truly ready to sell SEO services!

We’re Here to Help

We built Pathfinder SEO for agencies like yours who are looking to start and scale their SEO services offering. We accelerate you through the process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

A subscription to the Pathfinder SEO platform includes access to all of the resources you need to create your SEO services offering and effectively deliver the service. This includes all of the SEO proposal templates you need to sell SEO services.

Even better, Pathfinder SEO subscribers are supported by one-on-one coaching. Sign up for a subscription today and schedule your first coaching session.

Free Download: SEO Proposal Template

Don’t spend hours creating your own SEO proposal. Jumpstart your efforts with this SEO Proposal template.

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.
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