One of the hardest parts of winning new link building clients is writing and sending business proposals. As tedious as they are, proposals are crucial to convincing your client that you’re an experienced freelance link builder (or agency) that can bring them results with your outreach and link placement strategies. And even though you are an SEO and link builder who writes a lot, writing business proposals is something completely different from writing outreach emails or guest posts for your clients.
Here is how to write a link building proposal that shows your clients that you know what you’re doing and that you have the results to back up your claims.
1. Start with the introduction
In this part of the proposal, make sure to talk about the client rather than what you can do for them as a link builder/agency. Talk about their true pain point and how you can help them resolve it. For most clients, this means better keyword rankings/better conversions or higher conversion rates. Your introduction should get them hooked to move on to the rest of the proposal.
The problem with most agencies that write business proposals is that they assume that the client wants more backlinks. Of course they do, that’s why they’re hiring you, but is it the real reason why they’re reaching out?
In the introduction, you need to tackle the real problem. For example, most clients don’t want more backlinks – they want their site to rank better, they want more conversions, better leads, more visibility in local search, etc.
Before sitting down to write the introduction, think about the real reason why the client wants more backlinks. It’s highly likely that they’ve already told you the reason in your meetings and discovery sessions that took place before you even started writing.
This is where we get to something crucial – to write good introductions and proposals, you need to have good discovery sessions and client meetings. The questions you ask in the meetings will guide the direction of your introduction and the whole proposal.
There is one tip that you can use – talk back at the client. Lots of agency owners and SEOs want to sound all fancy and throw around words like “reciprocal links”, “no-follow links” and terms that the client may not understand. In reality, you need to use the exact words that the client is using.
For example, if they talk about building links to increase their authority, use this information to your advantage. Mention increasing their authority early on. The same goes for any other type of expression they may be using. Just use their words and don’t try to sound smart by using industry jargon – you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
2. The detailed specification
This is the true meat of the link building proposal. Here you will cover technical details such as how many links you can build, what niches you will be covering, what methods you will be using to acquire backlinks, who will be working on their project, etc. The more details you cover here, the fewer questions the clients will ask later on.
Here’s the difference between good and bad SEO agencies and freelancers. The bad ones will tell the client exactly how many links they can build and how the client’s rankings will improve in the months to come. The good SEOs know that in the world of SEO, you cannot predict anything.
This section is all about telling your clients what they can expect. How many links on average can you build per month? What kind of domain authority will the links be, on average? Which kind of websites will the links come from? Do you plan to use guest blogging, link insertions/exchanges, journalist outreach or something else?
Remember, the world of SEO and link building has a bad rap because of all the shady link builders selling $20 links. The more transparent you are with your methods, the more confident the client will feel about trusting you with their business. Of course, don’t give away your tricks of the trade, but give them enough to make them feel like you’re the right choice.
Moreover, you can mention who will be working on their project. List any SEOs, outreach managers, writers, PR people and anyone else involved. Not only will it increase your transparency, but it will also make it seem like you have a large agency with 50+ employees even if you have a total of four people working with you.
3. The timelines
Something as simple as a timeline is one of the most commonly forgotten elements in link building proposals. State when you can deliver the work and be as specific as possible.
As already mentioned, you can (and should) only give a rough estimate of what kind of links you can build and in which time frame. Based on your previous track record, you can guarantee a certain number of links (say 50-70) per month. State when you can deliver the links and when the client will be receiving an update from your end.
One thing that will make this section better is if you know of a special date that is coming up for the client. For example, they have a product launch in two months. Use this information and promise all work to be done by this date.
4. The pricing
This is the second most read section in any link building proposal. Make sure to make your pricing super clear and don’t give the client too many options, i.e. upsells. Your main aim with the proposal is to get them to say yes and even our own research showed that having just a single offer and pricing works better for getting your proposal signed.
How you price your services is completely up to you. There are different ways of charging for link building, but the most popular one for both agencies and clients is to charge a monthly retainer and guarantee a certain amount of work done every month. You can charge per link placement, which may work for some clients and you’re not pressured to land a certain number of links every month. However, the client never knows what they will pay at the end of the month.
Whichever option you choose, there is one small tip to keep in mind. Don’t call it just “pricing”. We’ve discovered that these titles work better:
- Return on investment
- Your investment
The client will perceive your link building services as an investment that will yield a return for their business, instead of just a cost that they can’t get back.
One tip that we have for the pricing is that if you want to get paid faster, make sure to send out the proposal sooner. From the research that we’ve done every year, it’s evident that the sooner you send out the proposal after the client meeting, the sooner you’ll get paid. Of course, how soon you get paid also depends on the payment method you use.
5. The guarantee
As a link builder, you cannot guarantee that a client’s website will rank for a certain keyword in X number of weeks/months. However, you can guarantee that you will deliver your work in the given deadline and according to the client’s instructions. You can give the typical money-back guarantee or something riskier, such as building additional links for the same price. In any case, you need this section.
A lot of companies offer a simple money-back guarantee and sure, this works. After all, the client has nothing to risk, provided that you do your job well. Of course, if you want to sweeten the deal, you could create an unconventional guarantee. Maybe something like an additional link for each day that you miss in your deadline. In any case, the more unusual the guarantee, the more likely the client is to “bite” on the account of the guarantee alone.
6. The proof
It’s crucial to have a section where you show social proof. This is where you share a mini case study about a previous client where you did marvelous work, preferably with results you were able to achieve. This part of the template is more generic because ideally, every proposal you send should have a different proof section that closely matches the client receiving the proposal.
This section can be tricky. On the one hand, you want to reveal as much as possible to show the client that you have results that you can be proud of. On the other hand, you cannot reveal anything sensitive because you have various NDAs protecting both you and the client. Remember, you want a case study from a client similar to the one you’re pitching – they just might be competition.
The best you can do is show the results that you’ve achieved and describe the niche and the type of client you worked with while omitting the sensitive details.
7. The next steps
In this part of the link building proposal, you tell the client the exact steps they need to take to kick off work with you after reading the proposal. It can be reused for all of your proposals and it’s necessary because you want to give crystal clear instructions.
One of the reasons why clients don’t convert after reading your proposals is because you haven’t explicitly told them what to do. An example of this section could be:
- Sign the proposal
- Pay the first part of the invoice directly through the proposal
- We schedule a kick-off call with you
- We start working on your project and building links
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – something as simple as this will get the job done.
8. The terms and conditions
You can’t get a professional contract for every client you book, but you can get a T&C section that will protect both you and the client and make them feel safe about signing your proposal. You can also reuse this section as much as you want.
The safest bet would be to hire a lawyer every time to discuss your terms and conditions with each client. However, that’s not only absurdly expensive, it’s also completely unnecessary. Most clients want to read this section so they can get peace of mind. As mentioned, you can just grab a template and reuse it for all of your proposals. After all, there are many terms and conditions generators online that let you grab one for $5 and use it forever. You just want something that will make the client feel confident about working with you and something that you can fall back on if things go down south.
Think about writing a template
Once you’ve gone through all of these steps and you’ve written a kick-ass link building proposal, it’s time to make it easier on you the next time around. After all, if you create one amazing link building proposal, you can make the next one easier on yourself by creating a proposal template.
In other words, create a template that contains your best proposal elements. We’ve created more than 100 templates so far, and it’s easier than you may think. A template is essentially a proposal that is 90% done and all you have to add is the specific client details.
That practically means that you can create proposals in 20 minutes instead of 3 hours. If you’re not already using proposal templates, you should be. Modern proposal software already comes with templates, but you can create your own after a few proposals you send on your own. Once you know which of your proposals convert the best, just combine their elements to create a template that performs best.
The ideal link building proposal shows off your previous work, convinces a client that you build legitimate links and that you can solve the pain point they currently have. If you include these eight sections and follow all of the tips included in our article, you will see your link building proposals signed every time.