What to Include in an SEO Proposal & Examples

Growing a successful agency requires ongoing pitching and winning of new business. Learn what to include to highlight experience and promote value.

MediaSesh branded graphic. Dark blue text on a white and two-toned orange and dark blue background reads, "What to include in an S, E, O proposal and Examples".

In this article, I will discuss:
Key tips for an SEO proposal
SEO proposal sections and examples
Additional factors
Final thoughts

Part of sustaining and growing a successful agency is the ongoing pitching and winning of new business. Getting invited to present your services is a victory on its own, so why blow it because of a poorly crafted search engine optimization (SEO) proposal.

Over the years, I’ve seen a variety of SEO proposal templates. The ones with a higher rate of getting new clients included similar information to what’s below. That’s because it highlights experience, trust, and value.

I. Key tips for an SEO proposal

Before we get into the SEO proposal example itself, there are a few key tips to keep in mind:

MediaSesh branded graphic. Dark blue and orange text on a white and dark blue background reads, "Key tips for an S, E, O proposal. Keep it simple. Show value. Be prepared. Have fun."
  • Keep it simple
    It can be tempting to include tons of SEO information to show experience, as well as arm clients with knowledge. However, I recommend keeping the presentation minimalistic. This means you need to know how to explain SEO in a clear and concise way.

    Additionally, sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you show it that can make a big difference. Your voice over should amplify the great text and visuals that are in the proposal.

    Make sure to use a clean format that keeps the SEO proposal engaging, light, and relevant. If people get lost with your SEO proposal template, they might be thinking about how confusing it would be to work with you.

  • Show value
    The folks in the room want to know how you’ll help them accomplish their desired outcomes. They want to know what to expect based on what’s important to them. This could include revenue and site engagement, as well as the additional resources you’ll need from them (e.g. developer time).

    They want to know why I should pay for this person. The SEO proposal should help in instilling confidence in your SEO agency. It should also highlight that your business has the right people for the job. So do your research, build out an awesome proposal, and win the client!

  • Be prepared
    There is so much that goes into a successful SEO proposal. The goal is to help increase the chances that you will seal the deal. I want you to stand out from the beginning because first impressions matter. Knowing that you’re prepared will help you feel more confident and relaxed. Before your pitch, make sure you can answer questions such as:

    • Do I know my potential client and their goals?
    • Have I tailored my pitch to them?
    • Am I confident in my ability to sell our services?
    • Did I do my research?
    • Is my pitch easy-to-understand?
    • Is it focused on the client?
    • Can I provide testimonials?
    • Have I practiced my pitch?

  • Have fun
    People like to buy from people they know, like, and trust. In addition to selling your services, you want to connect with people in the room. Find commonalities and use your personality and sales skills to sell yourself. Focus on the client and what you can do for them. Be excited to pitch! Make it fun.

II. SEO proposal sections and examples

Here are examples of what to include in your SEO proposal presentation. Depending on the client, remove slides that don’t make sense and add ones that do.

  1. Introduction Slides
  2. SEO & Client Industry Background
  3. SEO Analysis & Competitive Insights
  4. Recommended Next Steps
  5. Appendix

1. Introduction Slides

This section should include slides such as the agenda, mission statement, team members, and select clients. You may want to also consider including slides such as:

  • How your team is unique from other SEO agencies
  • The various types of SEO services you offer
  • Enterprise tools and partnerships
  • Industry awards and accolades

However, I may include these types of slides in the appendix so there’s more time to review the rest of the proposal.

2. SEO & Client Industry Background

This is the part of the presentation where you can provide quick information on why SEO is important, what you know about the client’s industry, and how an SEO strategy can help.

  • SEO Statistics
    Highlight how much potential there is by utilizing SEO into the marketing mix. Add a few search engine stats that make sense to the type of client you’re pitching to. Below is an example of what we included in a local SEO proposal.

    3 side-by-side donut charts with text above that reads, ""S, E, O is the difference between whether or not you get in front of your customers"". There is a percentage at the center of each donut chart that corresponds with the area highlighted in orange. The 3 charts, from left to right, are as follows: 1. 97% of people have searched online to find a local business. 2. 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. 3. 88% of local searches trust reviews and Google gives weight to reviews in results.

  • Client Industry Background
    Conduct research into the potential client’s industry to see if there are important stats to share. For this, you can use sites such as eMarketer or Think With Google.

    This information can help confirm what they already know and show them that you took the time to do your homework. In some cases, it can surprise them to see which direction their industry is moving. Either way, this should help with making the conversation a 2-way street and can inform a few next steps.

    A MediaSesh branded infographic with text above that reads, ""Like the S, E, O industry, the coffee industry is also evolving"". Below this, 4 boxes of demographic information are provided as follows: 1. 13-18 years old. The fastest growing demographic of coffee drinkers, causing a shift in the industry to appeal to this group, such as sweet and unique (tonic, butter, non-dairy, cocktails, cold brew, etc.), as well as ready-to-drink, gourmet, fair-trade, and sustainable. 2. 12%. The percentage of coffee drinkers who reported drinking cold brew within the past week. 3. 31%. The percentage of coffee drinkers who said they consumed ready-to-drink regularly or occasionally. 4. 60%. The percentage of market share for gourmet coffee beverages versus non-gourmet coffee.

  • Other Considerations
    Also consider adding search engine stats related to voice search, SEO + SEM combined and/or ecommerce – again, it all depends on who you’re pitching. Other potential slides include how SEO solves problems, how SEO has evolved over time, and what the client could stand to lose.

3. SEO Analysis & Competitive Insights

Now it’s time to show an analysis of the potential client’s current online visibility. It should show tons of screenshot examples that are tailored to them and their goals.

I cannot stress this enough when I say that this section should be customized to the client. I’ve seen an SEO proposal template from a well-known company with only screenshots of other client examples.  

Take the time to convert the information from third-party tools into easy to understand slides. This will go a very long way in showing your value.

  • Which Listing Would You Click On?
    I love including a little fun game that I call “Which listing would you click on?” It shows about four listings from Google for an important keyword phrase with black boxes over the company names. The client will be tasked with reading the listings and picking the one they would click on.

    On the next slide, I take away the black boxes so everyone can see which listing they would have clicked on. Sometimes the client will pick their listing, sometimes not.

    A comparison of branded and non-branded keyword usage on 4 Google listings with text above that reads, ""Other non-branded keywords could see improvement since there is more competition. Which result would you click on? A textbox to the right of the listings reads, ""Text in a black box are used to block out a company name. Which Google listing would you click on? Is it yours? Or someone else's? The color block variations in the 4 listings are as follows: 1. Mostly dark squares on the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th lines with a moderate number of light gray and medium gray boxes on the 1st and 3rd lines, and purple and lavender boxes on the 6th line. 2. Moderate number dark squares on the 1st and 2nd lines, with a large number of light gray, medium gray, purple, and lavender boxes on the 3rd thru 6th lines. 3. Moderate number of dark squares on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines, with a large number of light gray and medium gray boxes on the 4th and 5th and a small number of purple and lavender boxes on the 2nd line. 4. Moderate to high number of dark squares on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines, with a moderate number of medium gray boxes on the 1st and 4th line, light gray boxes on the 4th and 5th lines, and purple and lavender boxes on the 2nd and 3rd lines.

  • Content Analysis
    Another slide to consider including relates to content. There are different ways to illustrate the importance of valuable content and the example below shows one.

    A table with text above that reads, ""Another opportunity would be to add more content since more content can help create more S, E, O opportunities”. The table has 4 columns, each representing a website. There are 3 rows in the table which are labeled, from top to bottom, as follows: 1. Number of indexed pages, 2. Number of Ranking Desktop K, Ws, and 3. Number of Ranking Mobile K, Ws. Each cell is populated with a number value for each website. The data points are as follows: Site 1. 7 Indexed Pages, 145 Desktop K, Ws, 13 Mobile K, Ws. Site 2. 105 Indexed Pages, 1.5K Desktop K, Ws, 131 Mobile K, Ws. Site 3. 19 Indexed Pages, 434 Desktop K, Ws, 30 Mobile K, Ws. Site 4. 51 Indexed Pages, 106 Desktop K, Ws, 0 Mobile K, Ws. Site 1 is highlighted. It has the lowest Indexed Pages, and the second lowest Desktop K, Ws and Mobile K, Ws.

  • Local Analysis
    For those pitching a local business, consider adding a slide on the importance of increasing positive reviews. Also, show how the potential client compares to competitors in the area. Another option is to give a quick snapshot of their local directory listings.

    A circular chart with the words "27% accurate" in the middle. Next to it is a chart with a column for source and another column for error. Under source it reads Facebook, Bing, Foursquare, Hot Frog, and Yellow Pages. Under error it reads "missing phone number for Facebook and Bing" and "No listing" for Foursquare Hot Frog and Yellow Pages. The headline reads "verified local listings allow for a higher degree of ownership of online business assets."

  • Online Reputation Analysis
    If pitching online reputation services, consider showing the sentiment for core keywords. Another item would be to include client reviews and why it’s important to monitor and address them.

    A color-coded grid of Keywords with positive, neutral and negative labeled values for online sentiment. Text above the grid reads, ""By not addressing the negative online sentiment, you are leaving conversations about your brand in the hands of others"". The grid consists of 13 columns and 7 rows. Columns 1 and 2 are labeled Keywords and Search Volume (SV), respectively. Columns 3 through 12 are labeled with a number ascending from 1 to 10, respectively. The last Column in the grid is labeled Priority. A key below the grid provides the following 3 color categories, representing sentiment type: 1. Green, Positive. 2. Yellow, Neutral. 3. Red, Negative. The data shows a higher Priority status for Keywords with a Negative sentiment. There are 3 Keywords with 3, plus Negative sentiments labeled as Priority 1. There is 1 Keyword with 1 out of 10 Negative sentiments labeled as Priority 2. The remaining Keywords have a combination of mostly Positive and a few Neutral Keywords. These are labeled Priority 3.

  • Technical Analysis
    I recommend that you avoid doing one of those technical crawls that say every little error that you found. That’s because clients don’t understand what all of that means. On top of that, not everything is a top priority error.

    Take one or two discoveries and show how that’s negatively impacting the website. I use this to inform the need for a larger technical audit, which will prioritize errors based on the importance, impact, and resources needed.

  • Link Analysis
    Here I like to differentiate between link building and link earning. I also like to show a few link building opportunities and the importance of monitoring external links. Clients don’t always know who is linking to their site, and while most of the time it doesn’t warrant next steps, sometimes it does.

  • SEO Forecast
    Many potential clients want to know one of two things: how can you make me money or how can you save me money? Consider putting together an ROI forecast to help with illustrating this point. Of course, these types of figures are never perfect and are based on a number of variables, but it’s something.

    One way to figure this out would be by using Excel’s forecasting function. Just note that this requires you have access to the client’s Google Analytics data. Other methods would also require information from the client, such as average order value and conversion rate.
     

After you reviewed the client’s online visibility, the final part is to discuss next steps.

  • Proposed Deliverables
    Based on the errors you discovered, include a slide on all the SEO deliverables you’d like to work on over the course of your engagement.

  • Timeline
    Along with the last slide, also consider a project timeline of when you plan to provide each deliverable.

  • Investment
    This is the million-dollar slide where you finally talk about how much this will all cost. You can mention what’s included with the fee, such as resources and enterprise tools. We also wrote an article on how much SEO costs in case you need help in pricing your services.

5. Appendix

Most of the background information or deeper analysis information should go into the appendix. Here are a few of the things that could go in there:

  • Case Studies: Provide a few relevant case studies or client testimonials to highlight successes. This can include how you helped them to:

    • Generate more revenue
    • Improve rankings in search engines
    • Increase organic visits
    • Make PPC more efficient

  • Deliverables Breakdown: You can include more information about the deliverables mentioned in previous slides. This can include what they are, why they’re important, and screenshots of examples.

  • SEO Background Information: Depending on the client, it may be a good idea to include information such as:

    • How search engines work
    • The importance of keyword research
    • How blog posts can provide SEO opportunities
    • The value of creating an SEO strategy

III. Additional factors

Here are a few other considerations that may help accompany your winning proposal.

  • Keep your social media active and fresh
    Having an active presence on social media can be another way to engage with potential customers. It can be an asset that gets viewed by them to learn more about your company values and thought leadership.    

  • Increase the number of positive reviews
    While part of the consideration phase, one area that can be looked at is reviews. This can include Google My Business, Facebook, Clutch, Yelp, Home Advisor, etc. Try to get those positive reviews up since it might be the thing that gets a client to say yes.

  • Positioning your business as a thought leader
    Whether a blog post on your website, a speaking engagement at an industry-related conference, or conducting a webinar, your business should be positioned as an expert subject matter.

IV. Final thoughts

The information above contains only a few examples of what I have included in our proposals. It can look completely different based on who is being pitched. There are times when my proposals look nothing like this – it all depends.

Why am I sharing this information? I believe it’s important for clients to see that you have a game plan and a clear explanation for why you’re charging what you’re charging. There’s a lot of SEO work out there for everyone, so if what you’re doing isn’t working, give this a try!

About the author

Christina is an SEO consultant and the founder of MediaSesh. She has been in the SEO industry since 2009 and has helped companies of all sizes to improve their visibility on search engines.