The process of planning & pitching business to a potential new client is an important part of SEO. Next to retaining existing clients, it’s the most important function of an agency – but it can also be heavy on resources; both in terms of time & personnel.

In the 2014 Local SEO Industry Survey, new business development was the number one task that SEOs said they wished they could do more of. But how much time does it really take to plan & pitch to a typical SMB client?

To find out, we polled BrightLocal customers with two simple questions.

How many hours do you spend planning & pitching for a typical SMB client? (1-3 locations)


How many hours do you spend planning & pitching for a LARGER SMB client? (3-10 locations)

We’ve used the scenario of two different sized SMBs to give us a clearer view of how the process can vary for different sized clients.

We received 247 responses, with 80% from North America & 12% from the UK. See full poll location information.

Planning & pitching to an SMB client with 1-3 locations

Hours spend Planning and Pitching

Key Findings:

  • 25% of SEOs spend < 1 hour in planning & pitching to a typical SMB client
  • 79% of SEOs spend 0-5 hours in planning & pitching to a typical SMB client
  • 11% of SEOs spend 10 hours+ in planning & pitching to a typical SMB client


1 in 4 SEOs will spend less than an hour on preparing & pitching for an SMB client with 1-3 locations. 54% will spend between 2-5 hours on the same process.

It’s a relatively short amount of time, but we must consider that much of the work that goes into planning / pitching can be replicated, especially if a potential client is operating within an industry that’s familiar to the agency / consultant.

But how does the time process change for larger SMBs?

Planning & pitching to an SMB client with 3-10 locations

Hours spend for larger SMB

Key Findings:

  • 99% of SEOs will spend 1 hour+ planning / pitching for a client with 3-10 locations
  • 70% of SEOs spend 2-10 hours in planning / pitching for a client with 3-10 locations
  • 28% of SEOs spend 10 hours+ in planning / pitching for a client with 3-10 locations


More locations = More time

For both scenarios, the most popular response was 2-5 hours. But for larger clients, SEOs are more likely to spend longer on the planning & pitching process. 28% of SEOs will spend longer than 10 hours on the process (approximately just over 1 working day).

Again, this obviously depends on the SMB themselves, how much work is required on their site(s), and the industry they are in. Other factors include the agency / consultant’s experience / knowledge within that industry, and the resources they have available at that time.

What planning goes into an SMB pitch?

No matter what type of business or industry that we are pitching to, there will always be some constants within an audit / plan that will remain the same.

Research on the (potential) client

Carrying out local SEO audits, analyzing their website, keywords, citations, links, reviews, content & Google My Business pages is one of the most important elements of pitching to a client.

Research on the client’s industry

SEOs may need to research the industry that particular client is working within. This is why some agencies & consultants will specialise in certain industries, such as law, dental, travel, autos, etc. – which all helps to demonstrate relevant expertise to the client.

Research on their competitors

Who are their local competitors? and how do they compare? Analyzing competitor websites, links, citations & reviews also adds time / resources onto the clock!

How successful are SEOs in their client pitches?

With increased competition, winning new business becomes harder. In the 2014 Local SEO Industry Survey, we asked SEOs about their success rates at converting leads to customers:

  • 20% had a less than 10% success rate (vs 17% in 2013)
  • 58% had a less than 50% success rate (vs 57% in 2013)
  • Only 15% said they had a success rate of 80% or more (vs 14% in 2013)

With relatively low success rates it can be hard to justify spending 10+ hours on planning & pitching to an SMB that may not even materialize into a client. For smaller SEO consultants with less resources, this problem is only magnified, so there’s little surprise that 25% of SEOs would only spend 0-1 hours on the process for a typical SMBs (1-3 locations).

How long do you spend on the planning & pitching process for a new potential client? and what particular tasks actually go into the process?

Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Who took part in the poll?

Of the BrightLocal users who took part in this poll, 71% were from the US, 12% from the UK, 9% from Canada & 8% from the rest of the world.

Got a different viewpoint on this subject or some useful insights you want to share? We’re interested in publishing unique content written by smart marketeers on our blog. Contact us with your details & ideas and we’ll get back to you ASAP!