For people in SEO, and really any line of work, there comes a point where you ask yourself, “Haven’t I given this prospect enough already do demonstrate my value?” In SEO in particular, this is a very common issue. In this post, I dive into how much you should give away for free and where to draw the line in your SEO proposal process.
It’s a competitive industry
One of the main issues is, SEO is a competitive industry and you want to win the deal. This makes it very easy for a prospect to get a free analysis from multiple vendors. But the space is so competitive, almost every company needs to offer some basic analysis.
You want to build good will
At what point do you draw the line? You want to show the prospect that you are committed, and show them that you will go above and beyond, thus building good will. So that thought is always in back of every SEO experts mind. If it pushes it a little further, will I get the contract? I have done 20 to 30 page custom analysis for clients in past. In some cases we got the contract and in others they just walked with the information. That never feels good.
There has to be a limit in time spent and go with your gut
At some point, you need to think to yourself, “I have given this person everything they need to see to make a decision.” If you are 4 months down the road with a prospect and they are still asking you technical questions about their site you might want to think about it. Go with your gut, when you have spent too much time on a situation you will know it.
You need to show you see the issues
One of the main things I like to do is flag all the top level issues, describe why they are issues and discuss the level of opportunity. Generally, this is all you should need to do in the analysis area. In some cases, we will create a site structure as well. However, what often happens is people then ask for technical recommendations next. At that point, that really becomes something that would fall under the service agreement.
Exact technical recommendations and keyword assignments
Do they need to rel canonical 1,000 pages, do they have a filter that needs a noindex nofollow, have they duplicated their entire site on https causing the wrong version to rank and now they need to deal with it? When it comes to the exact way to deal with these situations that should be paid for, otherwise, you are giving everything away for free. Also, keyword assignments and strategy for specific URLs, outside of a site structure keyword map, really should be taken care of once they sign up.
Timelines are fine
Timelines are commonly asked for, so there is nothing wrong with taking this on in the sales process. This can actually be really helpful, as it keeps everyone on track. In many cases, we import the exact timeline into our project management system, this helps everyone on the project stay aligned.
Some RFPs can be time consuming
I have done a lot of RFPs. Most are totally fine, but in a few cases the prospect has asked for significant strategy in one document. In those situations, it becomes very tough for the SEO to decide whether or not they should even take the time.
So How Much Should you Give Away in your SEO Proposal?
At the end of the day, each SEO company has their general pitch along with some custom analysis. It is important to demonstrate your abilities, background, past success and analysis the website and backlinks. You also need to flag the main opportunities and create a basic plan of attack. But once the prospect asks for the execution of that plan of attack that is generally information that should be paid for. It is very hard to say no to a prospect, but current clients come first.