SEO request for proposal (RFP) questions: what to expect
For agencies ready to go big-time or enterprises interested in putting SEO work out for bid, columnist Clay Cazier documents the top questions that appear in SEO RFPs.
Ah, the SEO request for proposal (RFP). Whether you are writing one from the client side or responding to one as an agency, they are a foundational part of enterprise-level SEO.
While each RFP should include a few questions that are unique to the business at hand, there are also some “standard” questions that can help the enterprise SEO manager or procurement department qualify (or disqualify) responding agencies.
In today’s post, I’ll document the common questions I see in RFPs received by my agency to give businesses a place to start and agencies a chance to ask themselves, “What would our answer be?”
Common SEO RFP questions
Approach, strategy & analysis
- [Very common] Describe your approach to the creation of an overall SEO strategy.
- What is your typical SEO workflow/process?
- What SEO tactics do you view as effective in the current environment? What advantages or disadvantages might [client] face?
- Describe the opportunity for [client] as you see it in SEO.
- Please provide a market assessment of SEO at this time, and any trends [client] should be concerned with over the next three (3) years.
- [Very common] Describe your approach to conducting keyword research and validation of [client]-supplied keywords. How do you determine which keywords would be the most effective? Describe your approach to ongoing keyword targeting strategies (adding new keywords, etc.)
- [Very common] Describe your approach to evaluating the current site structure/on-site factors as they pertain to SEO and making recommendations for structural improvements for optimal search engine exposure.
- Indicate your ability to provide specific technical guidance to [client] developers for changes that affect SEO.
- Indicate how important you view site content and what capabilities you have to guide the creation of content and/or provide SEO-optimized content where needed.
- [Very common] Describe the tactics you employ to generate ranking improvements using off-site factors. Be extremely specific on how inbound links are obtained, etc.
Mobile & local
- [Very common] What measures do you take to test and optimize SEO for mobile?
- [Very common] What is your approach for local optimization of SEO?
Tools & reporting
- [Very common] Describe any tools utilized to deliver SEO services, including the name (if a third-party software package) and how the software is specifically used in delivery of services.
- Please provide your agency’s baseline position analysis capabilities.
- [Very common] Please outline the information that is tracked as part of SEO. Describe how these items are tracked, what information will be reported to the client on a daily/weekly basis and if they are accessible via a web dashboard or not.
- [Very common] Please provide samples of your SEO performance reports.
- Describe your approach to and frequency of ongoing updates and account management, including who is involved in review/status meetings and calls with the [client] team to review project status, activities and next steps.
- Please provide a brief history of your company, including company name, contact person, address, phone number, email, total number of employees, annual revenue and number and location of domestic and international offices.
- Has your company been involved in any lawsuits over the past five years? If yes, please explain.
- [Very common] Provide job titles, areas of expertise and project responsibilities of the key members of your team who will be responsible for the SEO portion of the [client] account.
- Describe any support personnel who will be utilized in support of the person executing SEO campaigns for [client]. Indicate what specifically they will be doing and what their background is.
- Please list examples of retailer SEO engagements where you reached the top page on requested business-critical keywords through your SEO efforts. What were those keywords?
- Provide at least two detailed examples of SEO programs designed and executed by your firm that resulted in increased search traffic and rankings on targeted keywords.
- [Very common] List three references of current SEO clients and three URLs that indicate your best work that most relates to this project.
- [Very common]Please provide a comprehensive pricing proposal, including a list of fees for all applicable services that [client] may utilize over the course of a potential engagement with your firm.
- What exactly is included in pricing? (e.g., What level of reporting and analytics is included? What level of creative updating/support?)
- What exactly is excluded in pricing? (e.g., any pass-through technology or advertising fees )
Not-so-common SEO RFP questions
- Describe how your techniques qualify as “best practices” or follow the industry standard preferred by the major search engines.
- What are your thoughts on timing of marketing and synergies between channels?
- How would the SEO team take seasonality into consideration?
- What is your strategy and approach for optimizing images for the best possible SEO rankings?
- Describe specific tactics you would use to support SEO for offline purchases made through local brick and mortar retail stores.
- What is your approach regarding reseller websites competing with the [client] website?
- Outline your in-house capabilities for altering, developing and implementing existing page code and back-end programming.
- How do you incorporate marketing attribution into your SEO management and strategy? Who analyzes these metrics, and how is the reporting used and shared?
- What do you require from the [client] team to have a successful SEO partnership?
- Provide the average annual SEO budget of your current clients.
One final insight learned the hard way: Many RFPs are short but will contain a (purposefully) vague question like, “Tell us about the SEO opportunities you see for our brand.”
Some business owners like to do this to see how you think and prioritize strategy vs. tactics (and tactics against one another). For agencies, just realize that those simple questions will likely encompass half the bullets above. Beware the short RFP — They often require the most thought!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.