SEO works—and while you know this, your prospective clients may not. Creating an SEO proposal clarifies how your SEO services can help your clients reach their organic traffic goals.
In this guide, we’ll go over what you should include in an SEO proposal and how to craft your own. You’ll also get access to a free, easy-to-use SEO proposal template with tips to get you started.
What Is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Proposal?
An SEO proposal outlines recommended strategies for improving a website’s search engine visibility and performance.
You can win over potential clients with a concise, compelling proposal that makes your business stand out among other SEO agencies, freelancers, and SEO experts.
Crafting the perfect proposal doesn’t have to take hours. With our free SEO proposal template (available at the end of the article), you can customize a proposal for each prospective SEO client to demonstrate your understanding of their unique business goals.
What to Include in Your SEO Proposal
While this list offers a helpful outline with the key components of a successful SEO proposal, you should customize your agency’s SEO proposals to each client’s needs and goals, adding or modifying sections as required.
Element 1: Introduction with an Executive Summary
The introduction is a sales pitch: you want to convince the client that your agency is the perfect solution for their SEO needs.
This means establishing credibility by:
- Stating the name of your agency and your area of expertise: For example, does your agency specialize in on-page SEO, off-page SEO, or both?
- Explaining why your agency is uniquely qualified to handle the client’s SEO needs: Does your agency have experience working with companies in the same industry as this client? If so, explain how you clearly understand their industry and pain points.
- Highlighting your agency’s track record of achieving SEO goals for previous clients: Substantiate your experience with verifiable data like case studies showcasing successful SEO campaigns, proven improvement of metrics like organic traffic, awards or recognition, etc.
- Emphasizing your agency’s commitment to providing customized solutions tailored to the client’s specific needs: How do you work to understand your clients’ specific goals and challenges?
- Expressing enthusiasm to help the client achieve their SEO goals: Remind them how passionate you are about working with them.
- Providing contact information for the client to reach out with any questions or concerns: Include the names, email addresses, and any additional contact information for the key stakeholders in the SEO proposal process.
Keep the introduction concise—typically only a few paragraphs.
Element 2: Client-Specific Insights
This section should showcase specific insights compiled about your prospective client’s current SEO performance.
Show them that your agency understands their unique SEO needs with a “light” site audit (save the complete SEO audit for when they’ve signed you as a client).
A light on-page SEO audit includes the following:
Basic Keyword Research with Competitive Gap Analysis
Analyze the website’s current keyword rankings and perform a quick keyword gap analysis using the client’s main competitors to identify missed opportunities.
A tool like Semrush can help you conduct a quick analysis of the client’s website and uncover improvement opportunities.
Type the client’s URL into Semrush.com’s search field to analyze current keyword rankings. Then, under Competitive Research, in the left-hand menu, click “Organic Research.”
And go to the “Positions” tab to see what keywords your client is ranking for.
To perform a keyword gap analysis, click “Keyword Gap” under “Competitive Research” in the left-hand menu.
Then, type in your client’s main competitors, and the tool will compare their keyword profile to their competitors. You can add up to four competitors. Once you’ve typed in the competitors, select the target country for which you want to compare keywords, then click “Compare.”
To modify the comparison between the client’s website and a competitor’s site, select different basic choices such as Shared, Missing, Weak, and others. Then, apply advanced filters to narrow down the results to keywords that rank in positions #1-#10.
Learn more about how to steal competitor traffic in our guide.
A backlink analysis shows the quality and quantity of external websites linking back to the client’s website. It helps you identify opportunities for link building and disavowing low-quality links.
Semrush has a Backlink Analytics tool to help.
Under “Link Building” on the left-hand side, click “Backlink Analytics.”
Enter the client’s domain and click “Analyze.”
The Backlink Analytics tool allows you to analyze a website’s backlink profile, including the number of backlinks, referring domains, anchor text distribution, and authority score. It also offers suggestions to improve a site’s overall backlink profile.
Identification of Additional Opportunities
Christina LeVasseur, an SEO Consultant, suggests including an interactive element with initial audits or client SEO training:
ICYMI: Here are a few SEO exercises you can consider including in your proposals, trainings or other deliverables.
1. Which SEO Listing Would You Click On?
This is where I show 3-4 listings for a relevant KW. Sometimes the client picks their listing, most of the time they don’t. pic.twitter.com/pkgEUELMVd
— Christina LeVasseur (Brodzky) (@cbrodzky) April 20, 2022
When clients realize their own page isn’t the most engaging or clickable option, they’re more likely to understand the value of your SEO services.
Trond Lyngbø, founder of Search Planet and a senior SEO Consultant, suggests combining the company’s prior historical sales data and conversion rates to identify profitable opportunities.
This information, grounded in data and analysis, informs future business decisions for your potential client and shows your commitment to helping them achieve their business objectives.
If you’d like to include additional insights in your light on-page SEO audit, read our knowledge base guide on detailed on-page analysis.
Conducting a light SEO audit before sending an SEO proposal provides valuable insights to tailor the proposal, set realistic goals, demonstrate expertise, and showcase the potential of achieving successful outcomes.
Element 3: Potential Solutions and Deliverables
Propose solutions based on your audit findings and share additional relevant service offerings.
Here are some potential solutions you can include in your SEO proposal:
- Full technical audit: Includes website speed improvements, mobile-friendliness, URL structure, schema markup, and crawl error resolution.
- Local SEO audit: If the client is a local business, this includes optimizing the Google My Business listing, citation building, and developing a strategy for generating positive reviews.
- Content gap analysis: Identifies gaps in the website’s content strategy, such as missing topics or poorly optimized content, and offers recommendations for creating new content or optimizing existing content.
- Competitive analysis: Identifies competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and provides insights for improving the website’s SEO strategy to outperform the competition.
- SEO training: Educates the client’s team on SEO best practices and strategies.
- Content creation strategy: Includes a content strategy and SEO plan to create high-quality, relevant content that speaks to the client’s intended audience.
For each solution you offer, communicate the value it will provide the client, such as improved rankings in SERPs (search engine results pages), increased organic search traffic, higher engagement, and more conversions.
While communicating your potential solutions and deliverables to clients, make sure to do the following:
Outline the Goals You Plan to Help Them Achieve
Clear SEO goals provide clarity, focus, and an opportunity to measure a website’s performance more accurately.. Vague goals like “increase leads” aren’t specific or measurable enough to establish success criteria.
To make the goals more actionable, use the SMART framework:
This methodology brings clarity to the goal. For example, a SMART SEO objective could be “increase organic website traffic by 25% within the next six months through a combination of on-page optimization, content creation, and backlink building, as measured by Google Analytics.”
The goal is attainable and clearly defines success.
Use measurable digital marketingmetrics to track the progress of every goal. For SEO, this includes metrics such as:
- Organic traffic
- Keyword rankings
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Pages per session
- Time on site
- Domain authority
Setting SMART goals allows the client to understand what specific actions you will take to achieve each desired outcome.
Determine a Suggested SEO Project Timeline
Many clients will be interested in how long it will take to see results from SEO. On average, SEO shows results within 6 to 12 months. However, giving a one-size-fits-all timeframe is impossible, so set a realistic timeline for the client.
For instance, it may take 2 years or more to earn prominent page 1 visibility for competitive personal finance keywords.
However, local or long-tail keywords with less competition might show promising results within 3 to 6 months.
Explain the factors that can influence how long it takes to see SEO success including:
- Competition: Low-competition niches and search queries yield faster results than high-competition ones
- Company resources: Allocating more resources toward SEO leads to faster results
- Website history: New domains take longer to show success than established ones
- Site speed and technical health: If the site doesn’t pass Core Web Vitals, for example, it will hinder the results of SEO work
Matt Umbriac, Head of Client Services at First Principles, demonstrates how long it can take to see results in this graph of his client’s growth after three years of SEO on a site requiring substantial work.
Image Source: LinkedIn
SEO is a long-term strategy and requires patience and persistence. You may start seeing some incremental improvements in your search enginerankings and organic traffic after a few weeks, but significant improvements may take several months or even years so it’s important to set expectations from the beginning
Manage expectations with your client and communicate that SEO success depends on various factors, and the results they want may take longer than they think.
Agree on a Set Budget
Discussing the budget upfront guides the work and deliverables. Depending on the client’s goals and budget, consider offering three pricing tiers that provide options for different service levels.
For example, the first pricing tier could be a basic SEO package for clients new to SEO with a limited budget. It might include foundational SEO deliverables such as keyword research, on-page optimizations, and basic link building.
The second pricing tier could be a more comprehensive SEO package for more established clients with a larger budget. It might include advanced keyword research, content marketing strategy,technical SEO, and in-depth link building.
The third pricing tier could be a premium SEO package for those with large budgets seeking an aggressive SEO strategy. It might include all the features of the previous packages, along with more advanced services such as international SEO, ecommerce optimization, and advanced and/or ongoing Analytics tracking.
Offering different pricing tiers lets clients choose the package that best suits their budget and business goals.
Element 4: Call to Action
A call to action (CTA) is one of the most important sections in the SEO proposal because it prompts the potential client to take action and move forward with the proposal by scheduling a consultation, signing a contract, or making a payment.
Add a CTA with information about what clients should do whether they decide to move forward with your proposal, shelve it for a later time, or decline the proposal.
Tips on How to Write an SEO Proposal
A well-written proposal can win new business, set expectations, and provide a roadmap for future work. A poorly written one, on the other hand, may fail to communicate your value, expertise, and unique selling proposition, resulting in lost opportunities.
Here are some tips to help you craft an effective SEO proposal:
Start with a Killer Discovery Call
Before writing a proposal, you need to find out as much as possible about the client, including their challenges and what they hope to achieve. This information helps you demonstrate your value as a partner in achieving their SEO goals.
Ask several discovery questions like:
- What are your primary business goals, and how can SEO help to achieve them? For example, do they want more leads, sales, increased organic traffic, or more email sign-ups?
- Who are the main competitors in the industry, and how does your offer compare to theirs?
- Who is your target audience, and what are their search behaviors and preferences?
- What are your audience’s biggest pain points related to your product or service?
- What keywords might prospects type into a major search engine to find you?
- What are your current SEO efforts, and what have the results been so far?
- What challenges and pain points have you experienced with SEO in the past?
- Do you know which specific SEO services you’re looking for?
- What is your budget?
Use these discovery questions as a foundation to craft a customized SEO proposal that meets the client’s specific needs—and shows your dedication to solving their unique challenges.
Personalize Your Proposal
Personalizing an SEO proposal can help you stand out from competitors and demonstrate to potential clients that you understand their unique needs and goals.
In Semrush’s research for creating a winning marketing agency pitch, we found that a client-tailored strategy proposal was important for 74/100 of the interviewed brands. It was the most important tactic of the 10 elements we asked them to rank.
Here are some tips to help you personalize your proposal:
- Research the client. Take the time to learn about the client’s business, industry, and competitors. This information can help you understand their pain points, strengths, and weaknesses and tailor your proposal to address their specific needs.
- Address their goals. Use your gathered information to craft a proposal that speaks directly to the client’s goals. Highlight how your SEO services can help them achieve those goals and provide specific examples of how you’ve helped other clients with similar objectives.
- Use their language. Incorporate industry-specific terms and language that the client uses in their marketing materials to make your proposal feel more personalized and relevant.
- Address their concerns. If the client has expressed any concerns or reservations about SEO, address those in your proposal. Explain how your approach can mitigate those concerns and provide evidence of how you’ve helped other clients overcome similar obstacles.
Use a Free SEO Proposal Template (See Below)
Writing proposal after proposal is time-consuming. Instead, use a template and simply fill in the details for each client to save time.
We created a customizable template—get it below. Save it in your important docs folder as a starting point.
Remember that while using a template can help you save time, it’s worth making the effort to personalize your proposal and address every client’s specific pain points and objectives.
Include Appealing Design Elements
Use design elements to increase your SEO proposal’s visual intrigue and client engagement.
Add images, graphs, charts, and other visual aids to explain complex ideas or data. Consider using your company’s branding elements, such as colors, logo, and font styles, to stay on-brand and deliver a consistent client experience.
Strike a balance between design and content. For example, use design elements to highlight the most important proposal points, including larger fonts, bolding or italicizing key phrases, or mixing different colors to draw attention to a section.
This sample proposal is consistent and uses visual elements to call attention to specific proposal elements.
Remember, the goal is clearly communicating your ideas and value proposition to the client.
Demonstrate Your Success
You can establish credibility with the client through case studies, testimonials, and other forms of social proof.
Including relevant case studies (such as this one on how an SEO agency helped an artisan bakery increase mobile organic traffic by 460%) can show your prospect that you’ve helped other businesses achieve their SEO goals and have a proven track record of success.
Tip: Select case studies relevant to your prospect’s industry or business type.
Testimonials from satisfied clients can also be a great addition to your proposal.
An example of how to showcase a customer testimonial in your SEO Proposal.
Tip: Before including the past client’s name, ask for permission to use their testimonials in your proposal.
Other forms of social proof may include industry certifications, awards, or recognition you have received.
Add in anything that can set you apart from other SEO agencies so the client can see why they should choose you.
The Free SEO Proposal Template by Semrush
Create winning SEO proposals to attract new clients with Semrush’s free SEO Proposal template. It includes all the features mentioned in this article and can be easily customized for each individual client.
Write Winning Proposals
To make the most out of your SEO efforts, write an SEO proposal customized to each client’s needs and goals.
Crafting a well-thought-out proposal can help you stand out from competitors, build trust with potential clients, and ultimately win over more business.
Taking the time to conduct a thorough discovery call, gathering key information about the client’s pain points and goals, and presenting a clear plan for SEO optimization can showcase your expertise and deliver real results for your clients.
A successful proposal isn’t only about highlighting your services, but also demonstrating the value you can bring to the client’s business. With the right proposal approach, you can win them over and establish a strong relationship for the future.