Preparing an RFP for SEO

Preparing an RFP (request for proposal) for an SEO project is a crucial step in ensuring that we find the right agency or expert that fits your organization and specific needs. Especially for organizations of 50 FTE or more, it is relevant to prepare a clear RFP. This saves time and ensures that each agency has an equal opportunity on the track. In this article, I outline how to prepare such an RFP. This article was written to tie in with the article on building a lasting partnership with an SEO party.

Purpose of the RFP

The main purpose of this RFP is to outline a clear framework for what we expect from an SEO partner. We don’t want just anyone to help us with rankings; we are looking for a partner who understands our vision, shares our goals and can guide us through the complex landscape of SEO. (1)

Background of the organization

The background of the organization can be clearly stated in a few sentences with possibly some links to important pages. See below:

Your organization has always focused on a specific sector/industry. Over the years, you have built a solid reputation and a loyal customer base. But now you want to strengthen your online presence and make sure you’re not only being found, but also communicating the right message.

Project description and objectives

This SEO journey is not just another project; it is a journey. A journey where we want to increase online visibility, attract more relevant visitors to the website and ultimately improve conversion rates.

If necessary, formulate here the OKRs of the organizations to which the KPIs of the SEO pathway should eventually be aligned. It also helps an SEO agency when you put down some search terms here that are relevant to you (or possibly some competitors that are doing well in the market in terms of online marketing).

Overall SEO objectives

The overall goals are pretty clear: we want to increase our organic visibility, rank higher for our core keywords (you can formulate these here) and achieve consistent growth in organic traffic.

As discussed above, make sure your KPIs aligne well with the organization’s OKRs. When this is not the case, resources will be misallocated within the strategy. See below:

In addition to general objectives, we have also established specific KPIs. For example, we want an X% increase in organic traffic in the next 6 months. Or perhaps we are aiming for a Y% improvement in the click-through rate of our key landing pages. It is these measurable goals that will help us assess the effectiveness of our SEO efforts.

Scope of the SEO process

When planning a comprehensive SEO project, it is essential to define a clear scope. This helps us stay focused and ensures that we address all the important aspects of SEO. At this point, I would call in the SEO specialist to draw up an SOW for this path using the defined KPIs. Often the different specialists will have some overlap in their work, so it happens that you cannot base your choice on this alone.

A few things that can occur in scope (I won’t go too deep into this, you can read other articles of mine to know more about this such as SEO manual, SEO for beginners or an SEO roadmap).(2)

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the backbone of any successful SEO strategy. I look at things like site speed, mobile optimization, and overall site health to make sure search engines can easily crawl and index our site.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about optimizing a page’s content and HTML source code. I focus on things like meta tags, URL structure, and, of course, the quality of the content itself. The target? Ensuring that every page on our site performs as well as possible.

Off-page SEO (link building)

Link building is still a crucial part of SEO. I strive to obtain quality backlinks from reputable websites in our industry. This not only helps increase our authority, but also sends valuable traffic to our site.

Here I would like to pick up on this though, make sure you mention in the RFP that the parties name the backlinks they want to place in month 2 with the offer. It is also advisable to ask if the backlinks are reported in the monthly report (it is particularly crucial that with an SEO subscription you do receive the level of transparency your organization deserves).

Content strategy and optimization

Content is king, which is why I pay a lot of attention to our content strategy. I look at what our target audience wants to read, what questions they have, and how we can best answer those questions. Then I optimize our content to satisfy both visitors and search engines.

Local SEO (if applicable)

As our organization operates locally, I can’t ignore how important local SEO is. I make sure our business listings are consistent, optimize our Google My Business page and focus on local keywords to ensure we are visible to our local audience.

Even with different branches of an organization, it can be important to use local SEO (considering these are larger organizations).

SEO agency requirements

Choosing the right SEO agency is crucial to our success. The SEO agencies will probably not be very different in the scope they issue. Things that will differ more are how much they charge, how they communicate and how much knowledge they have. Here are some of the things I’m looking at:(3)

Experience and previous case studies

I want to see what results the agency has achieved in the past. Case studies give me a clear picture of their expertise and what they can do for us.

In particular, also read thoroughly the reviews of the various organizations and where these reviews come from. Are these reviews from smaller organizations or companies that are equivalent (perhaps in FTE)? I personally think the industry they operate in is somewhat less important; a good SEO specialist can work in any industry with the same results. This is often overemphasized by potential customers.

Team and expertise

Who will work on our project? I want to know what experts the agency has in-house and how their team is assembled. Also consider whether this is an external team or whether the agency has the team entirely in-house.

Again, this can depend on your own preferences. Are you looking for a good price/quality ratio or are you looking for an assurance of continuity within your cooperation? You can base your own choice on this.

Tools and technologies used

The tools an agency uses can say a lot about their approach. I look at what technologies they use for things like keyword research, link building and technical analysis. This gives me an idea of how advanced and up-to-date their methods are.

Especially consider how the agency combines the various tools to arrive at the right analyses / insights.

Budget and timeline

When planning an SEO project, it is crucial to be clear about the budget and timeline. This provides transparency and helps us set realistic expectations.

Do you have your own budget in mind for a course? Or is there a budget allocated from the MT toward SEO? If so, it may be a good idea to communicate this budget to the parties you request quotes from. This allows the parties to formulate an optimal strategy within this issued budget.

Also, this can then immediately answer the question of whether it is more interesting to start a monthly process or whether a one-time strategy drafting fits better. See message below:

I have a specific budget in mind for this SEO journey. It is important for me to know what we can achieve with this budget and how to get the best value for money. I am looking for a partner who is transparent about costs and can help me get the most out of our budget.

Expected timeline and milestones

In this section, you can use the message below. It is particularly important here to understand the way the agency reports.

SEO is a long-term investment, and I understand that results take time. Still, I have certain milestones and goals that I want to achieve within a specific timeline. I want a clear path forward and an understanding of what to expect month by month.

Submission process and criteria

Choosing the right partner for our SEO process is essential. Therefore, I have set up a structured submission and review process to ensure that we find the best match. You can find below what I would share with the parties bidding to make this process:

  • Maximum streamlining.
  • Making opportunities as equal as possible for agencies.
  • Provide everyone with the same, accurate information.

Instructions for submitting proposals

If you are interested in working on our SEO journey, I want you to submit a detailed proposal. In it, you describe your approach, the tools you use and how you think you can help us achieve our goals. I appreciate clarity and detail, so be specific about what you have to offer us.

Initially, you can send this proposal through the mail. When we find it interesting enough we will schedule a meeting to go through it together.

Selection criteria and evaluation process

After all proposals are submitted, I will evaluate them based on a set of criteria. I look at experience, previous results, the quality of the team and the fit with our organization. It is important to me to find a partner who shares our vision and has the expertise to take us to the next step.

Questions for potential SEO agencies

Choosing the right SEO agency is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Therefore, I have prepared some crucial questions to ask any agency considering working with us.

You can just put all these questions in the mail with the RFP you share.

Strategy and approach

How do you approach SEO? I’m curious about your philosophy, the methodologies you follow and how you adapt to the ever-changing world of search engines. It is essential for me to understand how you think and how you would address our specific challenges. For example, what do you do on a weekly basis to stay up-to-date around the latest innovations within SEO?

Communication and reporting

How often can we expect updates? What tools do you use for reporting? I appreciate transparency and clear communication, so I want to know how you keep us informed of our progress and any challenges.

References and previous experiences

What other companies or brands have you worked with? Do you have experience in our specific industry? I would like to see some case studies or examples of your previous work, as well as references from past or current clients.

Contractual considerations

  • Any collaboration must be backed by a solid contract that protects the interests of both parties. Here are some of the things I look at specifically:
  • How long do you expect this trajectory to take? Is it an ongoing agreement or is there a specific end date?
  • I want to ensure that all data, strategies and content produced during this process remain confidential and our property. How do you guarantee this?
  • What are your payment terms? Are you expecting a down payment, monthly payments or a payment at the end of the course?

Next steps

Now that you have a clear picture of what I’m looking for in an SEO agency and our expectations, it’s time to look at the next steps.

Deadline for submission

I expect to have all proposals in by [specifieke datum]. This gives us sufficient time to carefully evaluate each proposal.

Contact information for inquiries

If you have any questions or need more information, you can reach me at [e-mailadres] or [telefoonnummer]. I look forward to your proposal and to a possible collaboration.

Conclusion

Selecting the right SEO agency is an important step in a good online presence. By asking clear questions and setting specific expectations, we ensure that we find a partner who not only shares our vision and goals, but also has the expertise and dedication to make them a reality.

As we move through this selection process, transparency, communication and mutual respect remain central. I look forward to the innovative strategies and results this collaboration will bring, and the growth and success we will achieve together.

Resources

  1. Team, I. (2024, Jan. 27). RFP: What a Request for Proposal Is, Requirements, and a Sample. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/request-for-proposal.asp
  2. Nicholson, R. (2024, March 14). How to Create an SEO Strategy for 2024 [Template Included]. HubSpot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo-strategy
  3. Tips for Hiring an SEO Specialist – Google for Small Business. (s.d.-c). Tips for hiring an SEO specialist | Search for Beginners Ep 9 [Video]. Tips For Hiring An SEO Specialist – Google For Small Business. https://smallbusiness.withgoogle.com/free-google-training/seo-specialists/
Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 26 April 2024. The last update of this article was on 26 April 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.