How to analyse SEO proposal

PRO TIP: once you finish this article, test yourself and analyse SEO proposal from GRIN tech

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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 analyse a SEO services pitch from potential client perspective.

Are offered services address 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 standard SEO proposal template not created by a live human.

Meaningful commercial offers must contain solutions for your problems and your specific tasks. Basically, your future contractor should already know what to do with your project. That’s why a 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;
  • Brief and clear 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 to go in great details about link building strategy. You don’t want to overpay a great deal for Fiverr links instead of 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 amazing, but many companies and freelancers are often talks only about the first part. They either completely forget about the second part or only give abstract 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. No need to be a genius to understand that the presence of a site in the coveted TOP-3 via necessary requests leads to sales increase and the blistering development of your company. 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 show how seriously you are lagging behind within your field.

The information provided like this will ensure you understand the importance of SEO promotion and commercial 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 this two articles to solidify your understanding of whats going on:

  1. PROMOTING ONLINE STORE ON A LOW BUDGET
  2. 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 huge document overflowing with terms and field-specific lingo. Chances are good you are not going to spend valuable hours decrypting it. You are going to put it off till another day and the day is likely to never come.

Sometimes that is how inexperienced agencies try to appear more competent than they actually 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 a SEO proposal must be crystal clear. Every stage of work must be meaningful and purposeful

Unlike commercial offer 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 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: “Our decisions are based on analysis results, analytic data and practical experience. We only execute relevant works and don’t shroud our activities”.

How much does it cost?

We would recommend to take a look at this research to get an independent opinion on SEO pricing range.

A commercial offer without a price is nothing. Click to Tweet

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 thinks 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 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 very very long feedback loop.

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 a 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 personally divide projects by 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;
  • 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 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.

Price

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?”. This is a distorted view of the scene. When you pay for services of an agency, you get a whole team of specialists, instead of just one. The amount of total experience the team has is significantly higher than that of a single person (freelancer). And if you take a full panoramic view at the situation it suddenly becomes clear: based on the price/quality correlation agencies are more inexpensive than freelancers.

Approach

Despite common perception, you are not guaranteed to get individual approach, extra attention and advanced 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 a good 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 bad results. Bad results mean dissatisfied clients. Dissatisfied clients mean a blow to the reputation. There is a snowball effect to this situation and agencies need to be active, and keep their finger on the pulse. 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

This is an emotional topic that requires an individual section. A lot of businesses, that had negative experience with SEO agencies reasonably hesitate to recur to corporate services. That often happens because their projects were literally ignored by executive officers. This is a result of “conveyor” approach. Here are its key features:

  • Do whatever catches your eye and what you have just enough experience for. 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 major 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 communication 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 SEO agency.

Key advantage of a freelancer is direct communication with a client. Executive managers at Rush Agency understand it and provide our clients with direct communications with executive specialists under 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 freelancer option. If you need expert approach, long term growth strategy development and rock solid results, you have to take an agency route.

Whatever option you chose – do not agree on not-perfect proposal – competitions out there is too good to fail you with best.

PRO TIP: once you finish this article, test yourself and analyse SEO proposal from GRIN tech