SEO Proposal essentials
SEO: we’ve all heard the term. I’d love to add, “we all know how crucial it is in digital marketing,” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s put it this way: if you’ve made it here, it’s safe to say you’re aware that search engine optimization is a key piece in the grand puzzle of web marketing. Whether you’re running an e-commerce site, a corporate website, or a digital platform, or even if you’re just a freelancer or a company in the SEO world, this piece will surely be a game-changer for you.
Why, you ask? Simple. In this article, I’m going to tackle a topic often shrouded in mystery and hesitation, whispered about in both professional and client circles. That ‘something’ often danced around but rarely addressed head-on: how to create and interpret an SEO proposal. In essence, where should your investment in SEO activities really be going?
We’ll explore this topic from both the entrepreneur requesting an SEO proposal and the freelancer or agency providing it. Why? Because both, client and provider, represent two sides of the same coin: your business, performing in the consumer’s world.
Interested in receiving an SEO proposal? Head to our dedicated page now!
Understanding the basics of an SEO Proposal
Let’s clear up a common misconception straight away: SEO isn’t a “zero expense” discipline, contrary to what some might believe. The array of skills, activities, and technical infrastructure required to keep a project active and high-performing is far from minimal. We’re not talking about the hefty monthly budgets necessary for search engine or social network advertising, but consider the cost of a high-performing server like those offered by Amazon Hosting, just to name one example.
So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly SEO proposal, or thinking of making one based on a “quantity over quality” approach… well, think twice.
And here’s why.
Before the Proposal: getting acquainted
Gone are the days when SEO was a purely technical pursuit. Ranking in Google’s SERP is no longer a standalone activity.
Search engines and users have become adept at spotting charlatans and non-authoritative entities. They can easily navigate to more reliable brands, and, while not perfect, distinguish between a reliable provider and one that isn’t.
When requesting an SEO proposal, don’t just ask to rank for ‘x’ number of keywords that you deem important for your brand. Instead, focus on how to reach more users aligned with your product, service, or whatever you’re putting out there. Similarly, when drafting an SEO proposal, you must first understand who your client is, what they offer, their strengths and weaknesses, how they’re perceived by their target audience, and their habits, challenges, and even hopes.
Preliminary analysis before the SEO Proposal
Before drafting a proposal, it’s crucial to analyze the situation. As a consultant, you need to understand who your client is, where they are, and where they should be. As a client, you must allow the consultant to understand these aspects about you.
Together, you’ll plot the course to your destination.
There are two main pre-proposal analysis activities: the SEO Audit and the SEO Startup.
Many SEOs limit themselves to a technical approach, commonly referred to as an SEO Audit. This provides formal and statistical data to answer basic questions like:
Are your contents ranking?
Do you have pages without meta-tags or with duplicate meta-tags?
Are you receiving a sufficient number of backlinks?
Does the site meet core web vitals?
And so on.
However, don’t mistake my emphasis on a more ‘human, less technical’ SEO as undervaluing the technical aspects of a website in the broader optimization landscape. Websites are digital machines that require expert care.
In some scenarios, like limited budgets, lack of historical data, or urgent timelines, an SEO Audit might be the only feasible path. None of these scenarios are ideal, but in certain conditions, it might make sense to start without an in-depth analysis and develop activities over time.
In all other cases, a proper Startup approach is better.
Saying an SEO Startup differs from an SEO Audit is both right and wrong. An Audit should be a part of the Startup process.
In an SEO Startup, at least the way we do it at YouSeeMe Miami, we aim to understand two main things:
Where the client stands in Google’s SERP.
How users are trying to reach that specific spot.
While our work ultimately revolves around keywords, it’s vital to remember that these keywords are used by real people with goals, needs, and desires. They interact with a myriad of brands, information, falsehoods, data, and statistics. The Startup isn’t just about telling you where you rank for the queries you’re interested in. It’s about determining if you’re heading in the right direction, if you’re vying for the spot you deserve, and ultimately, if users searching for the information you offer will actually find you.
Should SEO Audits and Startups Be Charged?
Is it fair to offer analysis as a complimentary service, or should it be billed?
Here we enter the realm of differing opinions. Some agencies (and professionals) offer a preliminary analysis for free; others charge for this service, even before reaching the proposal stage.
In most cases (like at YouSeeMe Miami, where we do this 99% of the time), we don’t even draft a proposal without a paid Startup. Why? Because an SEO Startup (like an Audit) takes hours of work (which should be paid for), utilizes tools (which also cost money), and a well-done analysis empowers the client to work independently, reducing the need for agency labor.
Lastly, what should we estimate if we have no idea what needs to be done? It would be a double mistake:
For us (YouSeeMe Miami and SEO consultants in general), because we’d either be working blindly or might not have enough resources to bring effective results to our client.
For the client, how would you feel getting into a taxi with a driver who has no idea where to take you?
SEO is not a game. It’s an investment and should be treated as such.
Clarifying the situation before the Proposal
At this point, we know where you are and, presumably, where you need to go.
Next, we need to understand who does what. In a respectable SEO proposal, it should be crystal clear which tasks fall to which party.
Proposal for SEO Consultation
SEO consultation generally involves having an expert guide you or your team, providing guidelines and ensuring adherence.
An SEO consultation proposal is relatively straightforward. It involves setting an hourly rate or a package of hours at a favorable price. The cost will inevitably be lower, but the control and responsibility for activities and outcomes rest more heavily on the client.
The ultimate goal is not to manage the project but to gradually make the client self-sufficient in SEO strategy and operations, thus reducing the economic burden of consultations to occasional professional interactions.
Proposal for ongoing SEO activities
Managing an SEO project is a more complex affair. An agency taking on an active project management role must consider numerous variables before finalizing the price.
Work hours: The proposal often bases on an estimate of work hours, calculated semi-annually or annually, based on identified priorities. Hourly rates vary depending on the agency or consultant.
Required expertise: Does the client have a development department, or is technical expertise needed? Can they create content, or do we need to consider content creation support? How many SEOs are needed for the project?
Advisable activities: Is local positioning necessary? Online sales? Both? Should we include lead generation? What about the blog?
Link building: Often a necessary evil. How much can the client budget for it? How many additional hours are needed for sourcing, negotiating with publishers, and ensuring guest posts stay online?
Responsibility: GDPR compliance is a must when an agency handles your data.
These are some of the main points to consider in an SEO proposal.
Cost expectations in an SEO Proposal
It’s crucial to remember that an SEO proposal should be tailored to your needs and what the agency or consultant deems necessary. The timeline for seeing results also plays a significant role.
Example of an SEO Proposal Calculation
Let’s consider a hypothetical e-commerce site selling multi-brand sports goods in Florida.
From the Startup, we learn that:
- Users conduct numerous research before purchasing, but the e-commerce blog is not adding value, with only three poorly written articles.
- The shop’s architecture doesn’t cater to users searching for products by specific brands.
- There’s no substantial link-building backing up the content.
- No access points intercept users looking for a physical sports store (not an online one).
- Numerous technical issues exist, such as slow page loading, missing structured data, lack of internal linking strategy, and more.
Let’s estimate the price for an SEO proposal, considering the macro-tasks to be performed monthly:
- Develop a monthly editorial plan.
- Research topics and corresponding queries.
- Provide content creation guidelines to the
- Edit content submitted by the client.
- Regularly check the effectiveness of various optimizations and make necessary adjustments.
- Analyze category-wise:
- If the optimized queries for each page are correct.
- If technical optimization of individual pages needs revision.
- If content on each page needs revision or new pages need creation.
- If page merging or redirects are required.
- Implement and evaluate internal links.
- Ensure pages load quickly and display correctly.
- Regularly monitor and adjust optimizations.
- Identify target contents based on commercial information.
- ind the best suppliers for link acquisition.
- Monthly negotiations with suppliers for links.
- Produce or commission content for guest posts.
- Regularly check the effectiveness of link building efforts.
- Claim and optimize Google Profile listings.
- Consider content publication on local profiles.
- Create local pages on the website.
- Research queries for local pages.
- Create content for local pages and optimize meta-tags.
- Regularly assess and tweak local SEO strategies.
- Implement Core Web Vitals.
- Address responsiveness issues.
- Apply structured data.
- Monitor crawl statistics.
- Identify and resolve indexing issues.
- Manage 404 and soft-404 pages.
- Monitor server responses and crawl logs.
- Implement dashboards for different data levels (executives, store managers, advertisers, etc.).
This extensive work might seem overwhelming, but it’s crucial for SEO success. Even if you’re new to SEO or have a theoretical understanding, you’ll recognize the extensive nature of these tasks.
Final Price Considerations
The final cost depends on the client’s budget, urgency to see improvements, and ability to collaborate with the SEO team. For medium-term results (within 4-6 months), we might estimate:
- 10h/month for the blog.
- 30h/month for the e-commerce site.
- 15h/month for link building.
- 5h/month for local SEO.
- 10h/month for technical checks and resolutions.
This totals 70h/month of work. Applying a rate of $80/hour, which is in line with the market, leads to a cost of $5600 + tax/month.
This cost excludes direct expenses like:
- Link acquisition costs.
- Costs for third-party services, such as a copywriter.
This example is hypothetical but reflective of real-world scenarios. The right price for an SEO proposal varies based on numerous factors and the fluidity of search engine algorithms and the variables influencing the success of an SEO strategy.