Easy-to-Use SEO Proposal Template to Win Clients (It’s Free!)

What's in This Template?

  • Close more deals with the bundled pricing section in this template.
  • Includes sample content (with real examples) so you don't have to start from scratch.
  • Use the proven template used by top SEO agencies to land high paying clients.
  • And more!

What’s in an SEO Proposal?

The SEO proposal is the keystone, the very foundation of the entire agency/client relationship.

A good proposal not only interests the prospective client enough that they hire you, but also establishes the expectations and scope of the project at hand. It hooks them, excites them, and also explicitly defines the boundaries, responsibilities, and success metrics of the project.

A boilerplate solution is not going to work here. To get great work and make happy clients, you need a well-planned, individually tailored, impeccably presented SEO proposal.

The Essential Elements of an SEO Proposal

Your proposal should center around four main questions. These questions dig deep into the client’s issue, and illustrate why you are the person to fix it.

The questions are:

  1. What specific issue is the client dealing with?
  2. What specifically am I offering to fix the issue?
  3. How will the client benefit from these fixes?
  4. What else can I do to improve the client’s situation?

Let’s use an example.

You’ve started talking with GoGoGorgonzola™, a company that sells artisan cheese-in-a-can. The GoGo team is frustrated because although they sell a superior product, Easy Cheese™ official pages and fan sites dominate the first five pages of Google search results. GoGo is full of dairy scientists and spray-can enthusiasts, but no internet wizards, so they’ve contacted you for a proposal.

You get out a notepad and start in on those questions.

#1: What is the specific issue GoGo is dealing with?

The first step in solving a problem is defining it.

The client might understand exactly what they want done, or they might not. You will probably need to do some digging to get at the root of the problem.

This means digging into on-page problems and doing an SEO audit.

GoGo sees their issue as a low search rating. But you know their poor rating is a result, not a cause.

You open up Ahrefs and start researching. Soon you discover that GoGo has a ton of links to their website coming from pages packed with ads and spammy affiliate links.

You jot down:

many low quality backlinks’.

You also notice that although the GoGo website has a splashy front page with lots of information and pictures of happy cows, they don’t have any sort of ongoing content that would encourage attention (and linkage) from high-prestige websites.

You make a note:

low content, none ongoing’.

Lastly, you see in the Google Keyword Planner that competition for the target keyword phrase ‘cheese in a can’ is high. But the keyword phrase ‘spray cheese’ has much lower competition. This kind of fast, low-investment fix is popular with new clients.

You note, ‘QUICK WIN: Target keyword refocus — [cheese in a can] ? [spray cheese]’.

#2: What can I offer to fix GoGo’s issues?

For each problem, write down the specific fix you would apply.

First of all, that quick win: you can offer to replace most of the instances of ‘cheese in a can’ on GoGo’s website with ‘spray cheese’, then submit the site to Google for crawling. Almost instant gratification. Note it.

Now the backlinks issue.

The best thing for a bad link is to destroy it. So ideally you go through the list of links, and for each one, you send a message to the site’s contact email saying ‘Will you pretty please remove the link to GoGoGorgonzola? Thx bunches.’ If that doesn’t work, you would use Google’s Disavow Backlinks feature.

On your notepad:

Bad backlinks: contact spam sites, if unresponsive use Google Disavow’.

Then there’s the content issue.

You don’t know enough about aerosol cheese to write a bunch of articles about it, but you can tell GoGo how to structure content so it fits effective SEO guidelines.

You note:

Ongoing content: build SEO guidelines package for [spray cheese] and related keywords, recommend regularly updated blog following SEO guide’.

#3: How will GoGo benefit by these fixes?

Think in terms of specific client benefits. Higher-profile exposure. More conversions. Lower bounce rates. More interested customers. This is the time to work the content marketing part of your brain.

In this case, the keyword change from ‘cheese in a can’ to ‘spray cheese’ should pretty rapidly bump GoGo’s site up in the rankings, translating to a much higher number of pageviews.

The link audit and cleanup will result in a higher ratio of really interested users visiting the site, meaning the conversion rate should improve significantly.

On the content front, once GoGo has started building a backlog of relevant, interesting articles on their blog, they will begin accruing not only customers, but fans, brand advocates eager to promote GoGo’s products on their own websites and social media.

You’re writing all this down, naturally.

#4: What else can I do to make things better for GoGo?

Are there any other little things you can do to improve the client’s situation?

Maybe there are SEO problems you see that the client doesn’t even know they have, totally unconnected to the original issue they pitched to you. Or maybe you see some things that are okay, but could be so much better.

Question #4 is like the final garnish on a great meal. It’s the final touch that speaks to the caliber of your competence and the thought you’ve put into preparation. It’s an indicator of quality.

For example, you notice that GoGo has a fairly active Facebook page, but not much else in the way of social media. Realizing the crave potential of slow-motion spray-cheese videos, you think that a SnapChat account would be just the thing to build buzz among young cheese enthusiasts.

Social media might not play a direct factor in Google-based SEO, but having a crowd of essentially free online promoters for your product is a clear optimization strategy. Plus, it’s not a big deal for you; you can offer to create the SnapChat account and write up guidelines on its use, and then the ball is in GoGo’s court.

How To Write An SEO Proposal, Step By Step

You’ve got your notepad with all of your big questions answered.

Now it’s time to package that scribbling into a beautiful proposal that will win hearts, open minds, snag the job, and set the foundation for a brilliant working relationship.

The following format is based originally on work by Glen Dimaandal further expounded upon by Sameer Panjwani, with a healthy addition from Gavin Llewellyn (references at the bottom).

First I’ll lay down the full outline of a sample SEO proposal for you. Then I’ll take you step-by-step through the whole thing.

THE ULTIMATE SEO PROPOSAL

  1. Executive summary - Reason for the pitch. Show you understand the problem.
    1. Business challenges
    2. SEO challenges
    3. Baseline metrics
    4. Goals
  2. Why choose my company? - Introduce yourself. Establish credentials and client benefit.
  3. What’s at stake? - Potential revenue being lost without your services.
    1. Report of estimated current revenue driven by organic SEO. Need the following:
      1. Target’s keyword (just 2 or 3)
      2. Average search volume of target keywords
      3. Google click-through rate according to position
      4. Website’s current conversion rate
      5. Average dollar value per conversion
      6. Estimated Search Traffic = (Search volume) x (Decimal equivalent for SERPS position)
      7. Estimated Conversions from SEO = (Estimated Search Traffic) x (website’s current conversion rate)
      8. Estimated Monthly Revenue for Target Keywords = (Estimated Conversions) x (Average dollar value per conversion)
    2. Report of estimated revenue after an SEO overhaul
  4. Recommendations for the company / Proposed Solution - The specific SEO services you’re offering for this particular instance. Focus on benefits. Example:
    1. Full website audit: keyword mapping, KPI baselines, technical audit, etc.
    2. Online brand enhancement: creation of social media brand pages, application for local directory listings, adjustments in messaging, etc.
    3. Content development: recommendations for blog posts, articles, etc.
    4. Off-page optimization: Syndication, link reclamation, etc.
  5. Analytics and improvement - Metrics for both agency and client to judge performance.
  6. Project timeline - Detailed timeline, showing responsibilities and expectations
  7. Dependencies - What will the agency need access to in order to do the job right? CMS, web analytics data, Google Webmaster Tools, etc.
  8. Client investment - The cost of your services.
  9. Next steps - Simple Call To Action to get the ball rolling

That’s big, right?

When you’re crafting something as massive as an SEO proposal, it’s easy to get sidetracked.

Technical SEO might be your bread and butter, but to potential clients, they’re just confusing. Here are a few tips to keep your proposal concise, clean, and client-friendly:

  • Sell it. You’re selling to people, not presenting dry facts. Focus on benefits to the client, and lay out your solution in benefits-oriented language. Return On Investment is the most direct, hard-hitting API.
  • Make a connection. Find commonality between the client and your agency. Chemistry is just as important as competence and services rendered. Connection counts—be human.
  • Present professionally. Looks matter. Send your proposal in a nicely formatted PDF, not a first-draft Word document.
  • Propose with purpose. Make the goals, issues and proposed work all match in a clear, obvious fashion. Everything in the proposal must be extremely relevant to the client and their particular situation.
  • KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I can’t emphasize this enough. An SEO proposal is the description of a huge and complicated project, but present it as simply and clearly as you possibly can.

With those principles in mind, let’s go through the whole proposal outline, piece by piece.

1. Executive summary

The whole reason for your pitch.

Take a look at your notes from Question #1. This is your chance to present your client with the real issue they’re dealing with.

Identify the problem as the client presented it to you, but also dig into the reasons behind it to show that you really understand the situation from a client perspective.

Then give a broad overview, heavy on action words, of the steps you will take to fix the problems. Make a note of the consequences (ideally in the form of lost potential revenue) if the issue is left unsolved or addressed incompletely.

After that, list out the following:

  1. Business challenges - Lay these out in bullet points. What is the client facing from a business perspective? Is revenue down? Are competitors edging them out of the market? These reasons tie directly into why the client sought SEO work in the first place.
  2. SEO challenges - The SEO challenges are generally presented in a bulleted list, as well. What are the specific pain points that are contributing to the client’s poor SERPs positioning? Are there crawl errors that should be addressed? Google penalties? Low-quality backlinks? These are the issues your solutions will specifically address.
  3. Baseline metrics - What is the current state of the client’s website? List whatever metrics you have access to: SERPs position for specific keywords (from your keyword research), monthly visits, conversion rates, bounce rates… anything that will give a data snapshot of the current situation. Include the same metrics from one of the client’s competitors, for comparison.
  4. Campaign Goals - Tie the ultimate goals of the project to the business challenges from Subsection A. Of course, a higher SERPs position is the purpose of SEO, but what does the client want that to translate into? More active online discussion of their brand? A higher conversion rate? Be specific. There’s a reason behind pursuing a digital marketing strategy.

2. Why choose my company?

You know that you’re competent. Now show the client.

Here’s your opportunity to really make a connection. You could fill this section with the awards you’ve received, or how big your client list is. Instead, focus on the client. Give a couple of case studies on how you’ve helped other companies in the past with similar issues, and how that translates into a better ability to improve the client’s current situation.

Use the case studies to show that well-respected companies have trusted you before. This is a powerful sales pitch that can build the client’s confidence in your abilities. But always tie everything back to the client: how your previous experience will help you solve their current problem.

3. What’s at stake?

In this section, show the client the value of your services by demonstrating all the potential revenue that will result from a successful SEO overhaul.

What you’ll do here is put together a report showing the current estimated revenue from organic traffic to the site, using the client’s main target keywords. Then you’ll make the same report, but showing the estimated revenue if the client’s page was ranked higher in Google.

There is a little bit of math here. Don’t hit the client over the head with it. Put the focus squarely on the SEO process and result: what they’re making now vs. what they could be making. The easiest way to do this is to show a nice, shiny picture of the report with the final results bolded and maybe circled in red, just to emphasize the point.

You’ll need the following:

  • Target keywords (just two or three) - You should be able to get these from the client.
  • Average search volume for target keywords - Use the Google Keyword Planner for this.
  • Google click-through rate according to position - This Advanced Web Ranking study has the most broad and current clickthrough data of any research I’ve found.
  • Website’s current conversion rate - Ask the client for this information.
  • Average dollar value per conversion - Request this data from the client, as well.

Put all of this data into a spreadsheet, along with the following columns and their formulas.

  • Estimated Search Traffic = (Search volume) x (Decimal equivalent for SERPS position)
  • Estimated Conversions from SEO = (Estimated Search Traffic) x (site’s current conversion rate)
  • Estimated Monthly Revenue for Target Keywords = (Estimated Conversions) x (Average Conversion value)

Finally, add the Estimated Monthly Revenue rows to get a broad estimate of the current revenue from organic search engine traffic. For GoGoGorgonzola™, the results would looks something like this:

Then you show the GoGo team how things would look if you got them the #2 spot on Google for all of these keywords.

There’s a pretty stark difference between those totals. This is what GoGo could be making every month.

You should note to the client that these estimates are based on current market data, which could change according to season, market trends, etc. Make clear that this is just an estimate.

4. Recommendations for the company / Proposed Solution

This is the real meat of the proposal.

Address each of the Section 1:B SEO Challenges with a specific course of action. Don’t get too far into the technical weeds, but make sure you give the client an understanding of what your solution is.

This is also where you clearly define the scope of what you’re offering to do.

Specifying the responsibilities your SEO agency is offering to undertake will deflect a lot of potential issues in the future. Poor communication in this section can lead to unrealistic client expectations and a difficult working relationship.

It’s fine to have a default package of services you offer, but be sure to tailor it to the client’s specific needs. People can tell if you’re giving them something boilerplate.

A comprehensive SEO campaign package might include:

  1. Full website audit - Keyword mapping, content audit, organic search performance, and competitor analysis.
  2. Online brand enhancement - Creation of social media brand pages, adjustments in messaging, and application for local directory listings.
  3. Content development guidelines - Recommendations for the creation and repurposing of blog posts, articles, and social media posts.
  4. Off-page optimization - Broken link building, influencer outreach, and content promotion.

Remember to tie each of the solutions you’re recommending back to how it will address the SEO challenges and, ultimately, the business challenges. You’re not just offering to perform a task, you’re crafting a solution to their problem. Keep the focus on the client.

5. Analytics and improvement

How will you and the client measure the success of the project?

Specify the metrics that all parties can use in judging the performance of an SEO overhaul.

Committing to this data guarantees transparency and raises your credibility in the client’s eyes. It’s a step of trust on both sides, and strengthens the working relationship.

This data can also be invaluable in presenting case studies for future proposals.

The metrics you use have got to be firmly and explicitly aligned with the business challenges from Section 1:A.

Organic traffic is the most obvious performance indicator, but unless the client is in the business of selling advertising based on pageviews, it probably isn’t the most useful one. For almost every business, pageviews must translate into sales.

Revenue is the number one KPI.

Lay out a monthly review process for a relevant set of metrics, such as keyword rankings, conversions from organic traffic, revenue from organic traffic—whatever data you feel is the best reflection of how successfully the problem is being solved.

6. Project timeline

In most of the proposal, you want to stay simple. Accessible.

For the timeline, you can break that mold a bit.

Chart out exactly when everything you’re proposing would take place. Unpack broad tasks into discrete elements, and designate who would be responsible for each, and when.

This timeline is the maturation of your recommended solutions into an actionable plan.

Including a deep timeline of your contract’s entire duration accomplishes two things. First of all, it makes it very easy for the client to say ‘Yes.’ It gives them an almost plug-and-play solution, without having to do a lot of tinkering on their end.

Second, it bolsters your image and gives the client more confidence in you and your abilities. You show yourself to be organized and methodical, and provide the client with an extra measure of transparency and oversight of your processes.

7. Dependencies

To get the job done properly, what would you need from the client?

List out all of the access you require, and provide a justification that, once again, ties back into benefits for the client.

Maybe you need access to the client’s CMS—be sure to specify that you need the access in order to provide a full content audit and optimization plan. Or if you require access to the client’s Google Webmaster Tools, note that it’s for the purpose of bypassing communication chain slowdown and responding in real time to traffic elasticity.

It would also help here to specify the client’s employees or teams that you would need to be in regular contact with. If there are any other responsibilities that would need to be fulfilled on the client’s end, this is the place to nail them down.

Be comprehensive, it’s better to ask for wide-reaching access up front than to cause confusion down the road.

8. Client investment

Because they aren’t just paying you, they’re investing in themselves, right?

Make it clear what the client is paying for, but avoid a laundry list of services with a dollar value next to each. Every time you tally a number, you’re adding psychological weight to the proposal.

Alternately, if you bundle your fees into a single price, you can make the investment burden feel significantly lighter.

Here’s an example:

9. Next steps

This is the Call To Action.

Clearly state the simple step the client must take to accept the proposal and get the ball rolling. Make it very easy for the client to say ‘Yes’.

Also make it clear that you are flexible; the proposal in its current state is open to negotiation. That way, the proposal process is not a ‘Yes/No’ question, it’s an invitation to fully meet the client’s needs and concerns.

The deal is not final until a contract is signed.

The very last thing the prospect should see in an SEO proposal is what to do next.

Don’t bury your CTA. Something like: ‘To take the next step in building the GoGoGorgonzola™ brand online, call me (555-555-5555) or send me an email (Bob@UltimateSEOWizards.com) and we’ll set up a time to review this proposal to make sure you get the SEO solution that serves your needs.’

And now you have an SEO proposal.

Final Tools for a Winning SEO Proposal

First off, I want to recognize all of the fantastic information that other people and companies have made freely available online. This article is fully and completely indebted to them, and your proposal will benefit greatly if you read what they have to say.

Sameer Panjwani from Mondovo™ outlines and breaks down his company’s SEO proposal template here.

Glen Dimaandal does the same for the GDI™ process in this article.

Neil Patel from Quicksprout™ compiles a great listing of ideal SEO proposal qualities here.

Gavin Llewellyn of Smart Insights™ looks at a proposal from the client perspective in this blog post.

This article from SEO Book also has a lot of great guidelines.

SEO experts have a lot of tools available for compiling the data necessary for a convincing, comprehensive proposal.

Here’s just a few:

  • Google Keyword Planner - The standard tool for finding search data on keywords.
  • Advanced Web Ranking CTR study - Very recent (compiled monthly with about a 2-month delay) research on SERPS/CTR correlation, presented in detailed chart form. There are many options for the data reported: US vs. international, Searches with Ads, Branded vs Unbranded, Search Intent, Long Tail, Categories, etc.

With such staggering quantity of information and advice, just getting started on a proposal can be a chore. That’s why Bidsketch has made it easy to begin.

Preview: SEO Proposal Template

SEO Proposal Template Cover Image

Goals and Objectives

Goals and Objectives

{client_name} needs to attract new leads to its website and turn them into customers. Its best chance to do so is to take advantage of free traffic from popular search engines. A focused SEO campaign will help {client_name}:

  • Get its website more attention from interested prospects
  • Turn that new attention into paying customers
  • Gain increased visibility without risking its standing with popular search engines

If {client_name} does not optimize its website to perform well with search engines, it risks drying up its pipeline of prospective customers in an increasingly competitive online space.

Recommendations For Your Company

Recommendations for Your Company

Hiring {my_company} to develop and manage a customized SEO campaign will allow {client_name} to meet the objectives described above. If hired, we will break our project down into the following discrete SEO services:

  • A Thorough Audit and Analysis of {client_name}’s Current SEO Techniques – We’ll analyze your current search engine rankings and your competitors’ SEO performance in your market. Then we’ll use the findings to help us develop the perfect strategy to increase your rankings and drive new visitors to your website.
  • Launch a SEO Campaign – We’ll put our plan to action. This will be an entirely hands-off process for you; our team will build the framework to increase your search engine rankings and website traffic. This framework will keep new visitors pouring in and give you an edge over your online competitors.
  • Comprehensive SEO Campaign Management and Optimization – We won’t just launch a SEO campaign then part ways. We’ll provide ongoing management of that campaign for 6 months, allowing us to measure the results of your investment and make improvements to your conversion rate. We’ll also report all of our findings to you.

Delivering Results

Here’s what {my_company}’s SEO experts will do to assure {client_name} meets its goals:

  • Launch a campaign to bring in a stream of new visitors to your website – If prospects can find you at the top of their search engine results, you can turn them into buyers. We’ll launch a campaign to improve your rankings and drive visitors to your site.
  • Build a framework to sustain a long-term increase in website traffic – We want your SEO investment to pay off over the long haul, so we’ll base your campaign on ethical link-building strategies. This framework gives you a sustained increase in traffic, largely unaffected by changes to search engine algorithms.
  • Optimize your SEO campaign to convert your new traffic into customers – A SEO campaign should produce a tangible return on your investment: new customers. We’ll manage your campaign for 6 months after we launch it, making continual improvements to increase the percentage of your new traffic that turn into paying customers.
Sustained Website Traffic Growth Solution
  • Assessment of current SEO – We’ll assess your current rankings for all the major search engines to see what’s working, what isn’t, and the best way to get more traffic to your website.
  • Development of SEO campaign – We’ll use the insights from our initial assessment to develop a campaign to drive more visitors to your website, and we’ll share all of the details with you.
  • Launch of SEO campaign – We’ll put the plan we created for you into motion, building the necessary backlinks to make your website rise in the rankings and attract new visitors.
  • Ongoing campaign management and improvement – We’ll track the results of your SEO campaign for 6 months, providing you with detailed reports and advice on how to turn a higher percentage of your new visitors into customers.
$12,330

Project Timeline

If {client_name} picks {my_company} to increase its website traffic and turn that traffic into paying customers, our timeline would proceed as follows:

Phase

Activities

Completion

Audit and Analysis of SEO Techniques

{my_company} will analyze {client_name}’s current performance on every major search engine and determine the best way to drive more traffic to {client_name}’s website.

02/01/XX

SEO Campaign Development

{my_company} will design a SEO campaign to improve {client_name}’s rankings on every major search engine; {my_company} will share this plan with {client_name}’s team.

02/22/XX

SEO Campaign Launch

{my_company}’s SEO experts will put the campaign it designed into motion, driving new visitors to {client_name}’s website.

03/01/XX

SEO Campaign Management and Optimization

{my_company} will track {client_name}’s SEO campaign for 6 months, make improvements to convert more visitors into customers, and provide monthly reports to {client_name} to review.

09/01/XX

Why Choose {my_company}?

{client_name} doesn’t just need more website traffic, it needs more paying customers. {my_company} understands that, so we continue to optimize our SEO campaigns well after they’re launched. Because we always keep your return on investment in mind, we are the best choice to launch and manage your SEO campaign. Here are some of the strengths we’ll bring to the table as we help {client_name} attract more visitors and convert them into customers:

  • {my_company} brings you more traffic and helps convert it into sales – All the traffic in the world won’t do you any good if your website doesn’t create customers instead of momentary click-throughs. That’s why we streamline your sales flow, leading your search engine traffic into a sales funnel that turns them into paying customers.
  • {my_company} uses only proven SEO strategies to make your increase in traffic last – We don’t build your rankings just to have them come tumbling down after the next search engine algorithm change. Our consistent link-building strategy relies on a multi-tiered system of only top quality links, allowing us to permanently increase your website traffic in a safe manner.
  • {my_company} gives you personal attention at a great price We’re smaller than many other SEO agencies, allowing us to keep our costs down and offer you top quality services at a reasonable price. Our team is dedicated to producing results that last, and we’ll communicate regularly with you to explain the progress of your campaign and answer any questions.

Next Steps

To take advantage of this proposal and proceed with the project as outlined, {client_name}’s next steps must be to:

  • Accept the proposal as-is
  • Discuss desired changes with {my_company}
  • Finalize and sign the contract
  • Submit an initial payment of 50 percent of total project fee

Once completed, {my_company} will contact {client_name} to schedule a project launch meeting to make introductions and gather information before beginning the work.

We’re happy to make changes to project scope on {client_name}’s request at any time, but may be subject to additional billing.

Terms and Conditions

Terms

Once the project fee is paid in full to {my_company}, any elements of text, graphics, photos, contents, trademarks, or other artwork furnished to {client_name} for inclusion in the website are owned by {client_name}.

{my_company} assumes {client_name} has permission from the rightful owner to use any code, scripts, data, and reports provided by {client_name} for inclusion in its materials, and will hold harmless, protect, and defend {my_company} from any claim or suit arising from the use of such work.

{my_company} retains the right to display graphics and other web content elements as examples of their work in their portfolio and as content features in other projects.

This agreement becomes effective only when signed by agents of {client_name} and {my_company}. Regardless of the place of signing of this agreement, {client_name} agrees that for purposes of venue, this contract was entered into in [STATE] and any dispute will be litigated or arbitrated in [STATE].

The agreement contained in this contract constitutes the sole agreement between {client_name} and the {my_company} regarding all items included in this agreement.