Unlike paid search, organic search lacks the tools to form trustworthy predictions about SEO outcomes.
This is why potential clients sometimes get indecisive even when presented with an SEO proposal.
On December 18, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Alen Todorov of SEOmonitor.
Todorov shared tips on how SEO agencies can write better proposals that prove value and eliminate client concerns.
Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.
Creating SEO proposals is no easy feat. Coming up with a pitch for a client involves a ton of resources from almost every department.
This is why you need to make sure you’re writing good SEO proposals.
A good proposal proves your value right away and eliminates your prospective client’s concerns.
Here are the key elements to focus on when writing your SEO proposals.
What Should Go Into Your SEO Proposal
1. Show a Deep Understanding of Your Client’s Industry
Be proactive. Right from the beginning, show your prospects that you understand their industry.
The first thing you need to include in your SEO proposal is your own keyword research.
Conducting keyword research entails:
- Selecting and grouping keywords according to various categories (e.g., ranks, topics, localized, seasonal).
- Segmentation based on device.
- Including search volume.
Avoid including keywords with very low search volumes or branded/navigational ones.
By describing why it wouldn’t make sense to improve visibility for queries that are navigational keywords and trigger site links, or why you grouped the ones that set off the same search results and are part of the same topic, you help your customer focus on the end-users’ search habits.
Some potential clients might think that their only competitors are those who are selling similar products and services. But in search, we know that your online competitors may not be who you think they are.
A competitor overview will help you separate perceived competitors from organic competitors.
Here, you’ll want to:
- Choose only business competitors.
- Present visibility based on search volumes and rankings.
Business Category Overview
You could also take Competitor Overview a step further and separate your potential client’s business between business categories. To do this:
- Select keywords the best describe the category.
- Highlight how each category has its own competitors.
2. True Organic Traffic
In order to highlight exactly what part of the SEO traffic you would eventually improve, you need to know how your potential client’s current organic traffic looks like.
When Google made the move towards encrypting all search data in September 2013, it became difficult to know exactly which terms were driving traffic to websites.
However, there are several workarounds including using data from Google Search Console combined with data from Google Analytics.
By connecting landing pages to the ones in Google Analytics, you start connecting what are those keywords that actually drive new business for potential clients.
3. A Realistic SEO Forecast That Can Be Understood & Verified
Once you’ve established the keywords and separated non-branded queries, it’s time to bring them together in the SEO forecast. (It’s important to highlight, however, that any form of forecasting is based on assumptions.)
Estimate Impact in Terms of Clicks & Conversions Instead of Rankings
Businesses are always looking to improve their bottom line and the easiest way to do this, especially in marketing, is to drive clicks to the website and improve conversions.
To do this:
- Choose a target rank for each group of keywords.
- Multiply the CTRs with search volume and year over change.
- Connect past conversion rates and goals with the new additional traffic.
Make sure to highlight how your potential client’s traffic would look like with and without the SEO campaign.
Compare the SEO Budget to the Equivalent in PPC
Another interesting way to prove the value of SEO is by comparing the SEO budget to the equivalent in PPC.
Based on the estimated cost per click for each keyword, you can then present how much it would cost your potential clients to reach X number of people through organic search and paid search.
This brings an outside perspective of the value of reaching better organic rankings.
You’ll also want to touch on performance tracking and reporting in your proposals. This shows that potential clients can trust your agency to deliver.
Provide a detailed explanation of:
- How reporting will run in relation to the campaign goals.
- What goes into the metrics that describe their visibility.
Be upfront and tell them:
- How frequent your reports will be.
- Who is in charge of their account.
- What happens when the targets are missed.
This section shows your potential client how much budget they should allocate in order to execute the SEO plan.
Here are just some of the attendee questions answered by Alen Todorov.
Q: How would you structure an SEO proposal for a school that has a fairly efficient website, but really needs to beef up on organic search? The owners and decision-makers aren’t so IT savvy. How would you structure a very concise exceptional proposal that speaks to them in facts they can relate to?
Alen Todorov (AT): I think every good business relationship starts with getting to know more about your customers’ desired outcomes.
- Why do they want to increase visibility? Is it because they are looking to get more students to apply to the school?
- How would they measure the success of an SEO campaign?
Using the answer you would then translate those outcomes into improvements in rankings.
Q: I observed that the website ranking on Alexa doesn’t really correspond to SEO rankings via organic search. A website might do well on Alexa but be poor in Google search rankings why don’t they always correlate.
AT: If I understand correctly how Alexa (or any other tool like SimilarWeb) determines website traffic is by using clickstream data. This is mined through partnerships with Chrome extensions developers and other software that reports users’ habits.
Because most of the traffic comes from desktop computers, they would then have to approximate how much is coming from mobile and from what sources (organic, social, referrals, etc).
And because there are many assumptions that lead to showcasing the traffic values, for some websites they might be off. I think it’s our duty to our customers to be upfront about all the sources we collect information when building an SEO proposal and sometimes admitting that it’s something we might not know.
The way we estimate, at SEOmonitor, the amount of traffic a website receives from organic traffic is based on the collective rankings for the keywords we have in our database. We then take those rankings and apply a CTR formula based on the combination of search features.
Q: For effective organic search for a company, are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter postings really compulsory?
AT: I think a lot of marketers would love a definitive answer to the question of how much does Google take into account social as a ranking signal. I am not aware if there’s a consensus in the industry about this topic. I would approach this as a learning experiment.
I know some SEO agencies have a specially designed budget for this kind of experiment. They would create 3 to 5 domains on a certain subject and then go on and test how changes to both on and off-page SEO affects ranking. By doing it in an isolated environment (and not a customer website) they can form better data-driven hypotheses.
[Video Recap] How to Write SEO Proposals That Prove Your Value & Eliminate Client Concerns
Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.
Or check out the SlideShare below.
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