When your in-house SEO team needs support, what’s the first thing you do?
If you didn’t already have a regular SEO agency on call, you’d probably ask for referrals or do a Google search for “SEO agency.”
Boom, millions of results pop up.
According to Agencies SEO Services Global Market Report 2022, the global agencies SEO services market is expected to grow from $51.25 billion in 2022 to $108.9 billion in 2026 — that’s double the value in four years.
With a bevy of agencies to choose from, where do you even start? How do you choose the right SEO agency — let alone find one whose values, business goals, or work processes align with yours?
The answer: Why not let the agencies come to you instead by putting out an SEO request for proposal (or SEO RFP)?
An SEO RFP is an integral part of the RFP process. It’s a document containing all the information relating to your project that you send to SEO agencies, inviting them to apply for the project.
In this article, you’ll learn what an SEO RFP is and how to choose the right SEO agency using one.
SEO Request for Proposal
What Is an SEO RFP?
An SEO RFP is a document used to identify and qualify the right kind of SEO company for your project.
You can think of it as an SEO agency’s resume, which details their background and expertise. An RFP refines the search by letting you get a sense of what the agencies are like before signing a contract with them.
The SEO RFP is central to the RFP process, and without it, you might end up with an agency whose expertise doesn’t match your needs or standards — resulting in failure to meet the project objectives and goals.
The SEO RFP process starts when an organization decides they need help from an SEO agency. They create a comprehensive RFP to share with SEO vendors and evaluate vendor submissions to create a shortlist. The process ends when the organization chooses a vendor and both parties sign a contract.
Here’s a more detailed overview of what the process entails.
1: Draft an SEO RFP.
The first step in the RFP process is gathering information about the project and drafting an SEO request for proposal (SEO RFP).
An SEO RFP typically includes the following:
- Company location and contact information
- Company background
- Business size and revenue
- Key stakeholders
- Mission, vision, and values
- Target audience
- Point of contact
Current SEO Strategy
- Current SEO standing: Where are you at when it comes to SEO? Are you ranking and want to maintain it, or are you struggling? Be honest. The agency can’t help you if you leave something out.
- Strategy focus: What channels do you want to focus on — organic search, paid search, or both
- Significant keywords: What keywords are you targeting?
- Web traffic information: How many sessions does each traffic channel drive?
- Results of SEO efforts to date: Share details about your previous link-building efforts and content strategy.
- Tools and resources used: Do you have any web development and content marketing resources available? Are they available externally, or are they restricted to internal teams?
SEO Project Overview
- Business goals: What is the business’ overall aim, and how does the project play into that?
- Scope of work: What do you need the agency to do? How much work is involved?
- Project objectives: What do you want to achieve by the project’s end? Remember to be specific and set SMART goals so you can measure SEO performance. For example, “Using [SEO method], we want to increase leads by X% by [timeframe].”
- Key performance indicators (KPIs): What metrics indicate project success? What project milestones should you be hitting to know you’re on the right track?
- Budget: How much SEO budget did you allot for the project?
- Deadlines: When is the project due?
- Point of contact: Who’s in charge of the project?
Selection Process Information
- Evaluation criteria: What’s the basis for choosing an SEO agency?
- Agency size: Is there a required agency size? Do you only prefer small agencies, or do you need to work with enterprise SEO agencies?
- Geographic restrictions: Do the agencies have to be in the same area as you, or are you willing to hire one from another country?
- Experience: Are you open to hiring newer agencies or prefer established agencies that have been around for a certain number of years?
- Results: Ask the SEO agency to share case studies of results they’ve achieved with their previous clients.
- Timeframe for decision making
- Important dates, such as:
- Deadline for questions from the agency
- Proposal due date
- Final decision date
- Ideal start date
TIP: There are plenty of downloadable SEO RFP templates online. To save time, you can download and modify them to your liking instead of creating one from scratch.
2: Do an Initial Evaluation.
After receiving submissions from SEO agencies, you can start preliminary evaluations to create a shortlist of candidates to interview.
Here are some things to consider when creating your shortlist:
- Timeliness: Did the vendor send in their proposal on time? It’s a small thing, but it speaks volumes about the agency, especially when you have a project with a tight timeline. Applying early means they can follow deadlines.
- Attention to detail: Are there typos? Again, it’s a small thing, but carelessness can reflect the quality of the resulting SEO campaign.
- Business longevity: How long have they been in business? An agency that’s long been in business means clients trust them. For example, Infront Webworks has been around since 1994 — before SEO was cool.
- Services offered: Do they offer a wide range of services (i.e., digital marketing), or do they focus on specialized services (i.e., SEO or only PPC)? If you only need help.
- Strengths/Differentiator: What sets them apart from other SEO agencies? Is their strength (e.g., paid ads) what you need the most help with? What other resources and services do they offer?
- Scale: Will they be able to meet your needs in the future?
- Professional credentials: Are they a member of any professional organizations? Do they regularly attend SEO workshops and training? What professional certifications do team members have, and were they taken recently? These credentials show that they upskill and constantly keep abreast of industry trends.
- Reputation: Are they highly recommended by people in your network?
- Niche: Are they familiar with (or do they specialize in) your line of business? Have they worked with competitors?
3: Contact Shortlisted Agencies.
Once you’ve come up with a shortlist of agencies, schedule interviews to get to know them better.
Ask them specific, in-depth, or situational questions to gauge their expertise. These questions can cover SEO strategies and approaches relating to:
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Local SEO
- SEO tools used
For example, besides the current project, have they observed other gaps or opportunities in your current SEO strategy? Why do they think it’s an issue, and what would they do to address it?
Note their behaviors while answering your questions. Do they look passionate about what they do, or are they just in for the money?
Second, ask them to describe their workflow to see if your work styles match. What do they value and dislike in a collaborator?
Lastly, Invite them to ask questions. Remember, interviews are a dialogue to gauge compatibility between two parties.
At the end of this step, you should be able to identify one to three agencies to choose from.
4: Choose the Vendor and Sign the Contract.
The last step in the RFP process is choosing an SEO agency.
Inform your top choice and start working on contract terms to agree on a price, scope of work, processes, payment terms, project timelines, and deliverables.
Once you’ve both agreed to the terms, sign the contract.
Congratulations, you’ve found your SEO agency.
Final Thoughts — SEO RFP Process: How To Choose the Right SEO Agency
At the rate SEO is growing, choosing the right SEO agency can be daunting — but it doesn’t have to be when you’re prepared.
Going through the RFP process with a well-structured SEO RFP helps you by:
- Solidifying project details
- Clarifying requirements
- Aligning with stakeholders
- Reducing the time finding the right agency partner
If you’re looking for the right agency, we’ve got you covered. Contact Infront Webworks for your SEO needs.