A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that enables professional agencies and organizations to secure new work through a request. RFPs are part of the bidding process, in which a company that’s interested in procuring a service solicits written proposals from potential contractors and service providers.
Knowing how to create a high-quality RFP is an integral part of creating partnerships that last. A little legwork on your part can help you find the right partner for your SEO project and fulfill your business objectives. Here’s what you need to know.
What Makes for a Good RFP?
A good RFP is both comprehensive and simple. In other words, it should outline all the information a potential partner needs to know about your objectives and what you’re looking for. It should also outline what your requirements are (i.e. a clear budget) to accomplish your goals.
Lack of detail leads to ambiguity, which can be a nail in the coffin for your RFP. On the other hand, a proposal should also be simple – using language the prospect can understand, avoiding industry jargon, and following an easy-to-follow format.
This might seem like a lot of pack into a single document, but it’s possible with the right approach.
What Should an RFP Include?
Good RFPs follow basic conventions, though there are no hard-and-fast rules for structuring them. However, a poorly written RFP can be difficult for an SEO firm to understand and may create difficulty in defining the needs of your project – which will lead to a lackluster proposal. In fact, a poorly executed RFP can discourage top-level vendors from responding.
Most companies intuitively understand what they want but many are unsure of how to ask for it – that is, in a manner that’s both clear and instructive. RFPs can help aid in the sales process by ensuring that everyone involved understands the purpose, requirements, and desired structure of the partnership.
In general, an RFP includes the following elements:
- Brief overview of the project
- Background of your company
- Project’s goals and target audience
- Scope of work
- Technical requirements
- Point of contact
- Web hosting
- Analytics software
- Criteria for selection
- Proposal timeline
Search Engine Land offers the following sample outline for quality RFPs:
- Summary and overview of the project: What is the scope of your problem, and what kind of solution are you looking for? How do you want an SEO firm to respond to it?
- Technical summary. Here, you can delve into the nitty-gritty of your project, which will help an SEO firm determine how they can best help you. This is where you provide technical information like requirements, a thorough description of your issues, your site’s current platform, and more. Often, the IT department provides the information for this section.
- Somewhere, you will have to outline who you plan on being involved in your project and whom the POC will be. This is also where you will define your desired timeline for completion.
- Expectations and delivery details. How do you want to evaluate the success of your project (i.e., what are your desired KPIs or benchmarks?) What is your desired budget for this project? This section really helps a vendor determine the cost of your project and whether or not a partnership will be fruitful.
RFP Examples That Work
Creating an RFP for search engine optimization (SEO) services is a common endeavor. SEO is vital to the success of the modern-day business, as it gets a website noticed on search engines. Requesting proposals for SEO services takes a well-written RFP that enables SEO firms to provide appropriate solutions based on the information you provide. Remember, you will need to cover basics in your RFP, like:
- Describing your end goal in requesting SEO services
- Defining SEO needs and wants (make sure to differentiate between the two)
- Explaining what you’re looking for in an SEO firm
- Explaining your desired benchmarks and KPIs
- Providing your desired timeline and budget
The best way to assess if your proposal is up to snuff is by comparing it to RFP examples. This sample from Virginia Tech provides a good working base. It contains an executive summary, and introduces the requester, the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability at Virginia Tech. It explains that the goal of the SEO services requested is to expand course enrollment at the university. It then describes its target market, scope of work, and requirements for what proposals should include. Finally, the requester links to its website and issues a timeline.
Hubspot also compiled a good sample for general marketing and SEO services. Here, the company posts the RFP on their website and outlines clear expectations for a successful candidate (i.e. desired experience and expertise.) It also provides a clear timeline for completion (8 months) and how the company will evaluate each candidate.
RFP Examples for PPC Campaigns
Managing a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign can take more manpower and resources than your company is willing to commit – especially if you’re not certain of any returns on investment (ROI). A request for proposal regarding professional PPC ad management services can be just what you need to up your marketing efforts and get real results. Learning how to format your RFP and what it should include can improve your odds of finding just the right service provider.
Vizion Interactive offers a downloadable RFP template for business owners who wish to shop for PPC management agencies. Businesses can download this template and use it freely to solicit proposals for PPC services. We also welcome marketers to read about our monthly PPC management services if they’re in need of ongoing expertise and optimization for PPC ad campaigns. We offer a team of professionals and cutting-edge data management tools at your disposal.
New Website Requests for Proposal
Like other proposals, RFPs for new websites should include a project summary, company information and competitors, website goals, target audience, desired site structure/content, graphic design and functionality requests, overall design/look of the website, criteria for selecting a vendor, proposed budget/timeline, and contact information.
When writing your RFP for website design services, try to be flexible in your requirements. Dictating an exact type of website can limit the creativity of vendors who might have a better solution to offer. Leave room for innovative proposals about how to create a stunning, effective website. List your requirements, but make it clear that you’re also open to suggestions, as long as they are in line with your goals. Use this RFP Example from the Seattle Public library to help you create your request.
In this RFP example, you’ll see sections that cover all the above-listed requirements for good website requests for proposal. The example also goes in-depth into each category, showing you the type of language you might wish to use if writing this type of solicitation. Remember that flexibility is the key – this allows firms to use their own creativity and expertise in helping you with your website creation.
RFPs might require some time and practice to write, but they’re well worth the effort. Review these examples and utilize the templates from Vizion Interactive to help you with the process.