INITIALLY, THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FROM A CLIENT PERSPECTIVE.
A RESEARCH AND DATA SHOWED, HOWEVER, THAT IT’S MOSTLY OTHER SEO PROFESSIONALS WHO LOOK FOR THE SEO PROPOSAL TEMPLATE AND BEST PRACTICES.
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Commercial offers can tell a lot about your future business partners. A commercial offer can reveal your business partner’s disposition towards you, your business, your time and also indicate the level of professionalism. In a sense Search Engine Optimization (SEO) proposal speaks louder than case studies.
Let’s take a look at how to analyze SEO services pitch from a potential client perspective.
- Where is the money?
- SEO agency vs. freelancer
- To sum it up on SEO proposal
Are offered service addresses your project or a specific situation on your project?
There is a great life hack on how to analyze this quickly. Read the offer replacing your project with any other (even from a different business area), and if this commercial offer still makes sense, it is just a standard SEO proposal template not created by a live human.
Meaningful commercial offers must contain solutions for your problems and your specific tasks. Your future contractor should already know what to do with your project. That’s why SEO proposal must feature at least this:
- The main problems of your website should be briefly outlined (website audit);
- A small pool of keywords should be researched (we call it a demo core);
- A general search engines promotion strategy should be present;
- A brief and precise description of the primary plan of work should also be present;
- The sales manager has to substantiate each clause of the offer.
- I also suggest going in great detail about the link building strategy. You don’t want to overpay for Fiverr links instead of a genuine outreach campaign.
The general idea is: “We don’t need to find out what to do, we already know what to do and it’s only a question of when to start”.
Where is the money?
The essence of the commercial offer is to describe how both parties can profit. In short, it looks like this: “You give us your money. We provide you services that will help you earn more money, so here are our numbers and projections.”
It’s weird, but many companies and freelancers are often talking only about the first part. They either completely forget about the second part or only give general information on abstract benefits, and provide barely any figures. And if you take a standard automatically generated commercial offer, it will look something like this: “Give us your money, and we’ll do something for you. Your website is gonna be in top-5 search results because it’s cool”.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Your future business partner will not be able to determine how much you are going to earn with a 100% accuracy.
However, your business partner can show you the positions of leading competitors in keyword research and explain how seriously you are lagging within your field.
The information provided like this will ensure you understand the importance of SEO promotion and the economic benefits of working with such a mindful and far-sighted contractor. The general idea: “We want your money to solve your business tasks, not just perform some abstract SEO services.”
PRO TIP: not all businesses have potential for SEO promotion. For some kind of a nail bar, getting into business catalogue of Google is enough and hyper-local targeting will do its thing very well. Also consider that it is not a financially viable option for all business. Also, at GRIN tech we usually do not take on projects where more straightforward (like PPC) digital marketing channels are lagging behind.
I recommend to go through these two articles to solidify your understanding of what’s going on:
- PROMOTING ONLINE STORE ON A LOW BUDGET
- HOW TO TACKLE SEO BEFORE YOU SHIP WEBSITE TO PRODUCTION OR EVEN BUILD IT
Sometimes it is better to test your proposition via Facebook and context ads before venturing deep into SEO promotion.
SEO proposal speaks human language, not the language of SEO specialists
Time is the most valuable resource we possess. Respect only those professionals who treat your time and theirs with equal care.
Imagine receiving a massive document overflowing with terms and field-specific lingo. Chances are good; you are not going to spend precious hours decrypting it. You are going to put it off till another day and the day is likely never to come.
Sometimes that is how new agencies try to appear more competent than they are and avoid hard-hitting questions in future communications. In general, it’s just inexperienced sales managers who waste your time and eventually lose you, sending such commercial offers.
The general idea: “We speak your language to make our communication process easier and don’t waste your and our time”.
Even better if there is an executive summary present.
Every line of SEO proposal must be crystal clear. Every stage of work must be meaningful and purposeful
Unlike commercial offers from the previous section, where irrelevant information prevails, the proper one must contain no such at all. Every clause must be stated as clearly as possible and justified for a prospective client to understand. Every term or definition must be clarified.
A lot of decisions in SEO are made based on info on TOP-10 for each query, and a good SEO proposal must include this information.
The general idea: “We base our decisions on analysis results, analytic data, and practical experience. We only execute important tasks and don’t shroud our activities”.
How much does it cost?
We would recommend taking a look at this research to get an independent opinion on the SEO pricing range.
The pricing table with options is even better. Pricing table with options AND pitch on other channels (if relevant) is the best. For example, for some projects, we have to start from Google Ads to setup analytics first, measure conversion rate and evaluate SEO strategy outcome against business goals and resources.
Also, take into account that SEO has changed a lot over the last few years. Some even say it is dead and content marketing is the king. I think those are just words and business goals are still the same – get target audience from search engines and convert them in paying customers.
However as competition in organic search results grows over time in every industry – it requires a lot of time, deep involvement into a project and a great deal of effort to succeed. Don’t be surprised when an agency or SEO expert provides quality service and charges you accordingly. You should also avoid suspiciously low prices. The price is high, but the price of a mistake is even higher because of the very very long feedback loop.
The general idea that the higher the price you pay, the more experienced the specialists you get and the less their workload is. The less the workload, the more attention your project gets and the better the results are.
To sum it up
These were fundamental tenets of proper SEO proposal. Keep them in mind to make the right decision when you finally receive some (btw, why not train on us? Use Intercom chat on the bottom right to make things rolling).
Let’s also address a common dichotomy ‘agency vs. freelancer’.
SEO agency vs. freelancer
Let’s step away from a standard line of thought on the topic and start with what your needs are in the first place. I divide projects into two categories: hand-projects and brain-projects.
You are dealing with a “hand” type of project if:
- Your level of SEO expertise is sufficient to lead the project yourself step by step, but you have no time to do this;
- However, beware of Dunning–Kruger effect
- You are ready and able to control (or delegate) the quality of work and aware of campaign goals;
- Your budget is average;
- You do everything by yourself and need an outside perspective.
If you meet at least two of these criteria, you need spare hands to help you. In that case, you better choose a freelancer as your option to free up your precious time.
You are dealing with a “brain” type of project if:
- You have little to no expertise in SEO;
- You are unable to evaluate the quality of content, technical SEO and link building;
- You have the money you are able and ready to invest in a project;
- You need consulting and training.
That’s when you need to resort to agency services. So, before choosing a contractor, decide on what do you need — hands or brains.
Agencies have much higher pricing — they need to pay salaries, rent and invest money in their own business. You may ask a question: “Why should I pay for all this?”. That is a distorted view of the scene. When you pay for the services of an agency, you get a whole team of specialists, instead of just one. The amount of total experience the organization has is significantly higher than that of a single person (freelancer). And if you take a full panoramic view of the situation it suddenly becomes clear: based on the price/quality correlation agencies are more inexpensive than freelancers.
Despite common perception, you are not guaranteed to get an individual approach, extra attention and exceptional quality of service if you hire a freelancer. In reality, you get a pig in a poke. I’m not saying there are no responsible and professional freelancers. All I’m saying is you need to find such a professional first, and you never know how much time and money you will lose in the process.
With an excellent SEO agency service, you get multi-level quality control, accumulated experience of every member of the team you hire and legal agreement. The agency won’t disappear, won’t ignore your phone calls and will always stick to its part of the deal.
Fluidity is the only thing that’s constant on the Internet. Once you’re unable to keep the pace and follow trends, you’re out of the game. If an agency can’t adapt on time, it eventually produces terrible results. Bad results mean dissatisfied clients. Client dissatisfaction is a blow to the reputation. There is a snowball effect on this situation, and agencies need to be active and keep their finger on the pulse. The competitive spirit in agencies results in constant development and evolution of the team. If you’re unlucky, you risk hiring a freelancer, who is stuck in the past and doesn’t evolve. No freelancer can outcompete an agency.
Conveyors and Chinese whispers
That is an emotional topic that requires an individual section. A lot of businesses that had a negative experience with SEO agencies reasonably hesitate to recur to corporate services. That often happens because executive officers ignored their projects. That is a result of a “conveyor” approach. Here are its key features:
- Do whatever catches your eye and what you have just enough experience. Never factor in season or business specifics;
- Regular failure to deliver projects on time follows;
- Low-quality production is also here;
- Lack of communication with executive specialists;
- Full absence of results.
Incompetence is the main problem here, followed by a significant task overload those incompetent “specialists” regularly face. You’re going to be lucky if anyone even throws a glance at your website.
The second problem is an account manager — an extra link in the chain between a client and an actual executive specialist. Having a manager is vital, but it creates a lot of issues when such manager controls all communications and excludes SEO specialist from the chain. It is necessary for a client to have access to direct contact with a specialist.
So, customers get dead tired of this and move on to work with a freelancer, hoping for the best. Yes, it usually gets better, but it doesn’t mean that freelancers cannot be overburdened with projects and always have sufficient knowledge and level of experience. It is hard to find a qualified professional, and if you do find one, he or she may charge much more than a given SEO agency.
The essential advantage of a freelancer is direct communication with a client. Executive managers at Rush Agency understand it and provide our clients with direct interactions with operational specialists under the supervision of an experienced account manager.
To sum it up on SEO proposal
If you need hands to perform monotonous, extensive tasks and you’re short on time and budget, choose a freelancer option. If you need an expert approach, long term growth strategy development and yield reliable results, you have to take an agency route.
Whatever option you chose – do not agree on a not-perfect proposal – competitions out there is too good to fail you with best.
PRO TIP: once you finish this article, test yourself and analyze SEO proposal from GRIN tech
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