Growth Stream is a new name for us. But we have been lighting fires under small businesses since before the term 'digital marketing' even existed. Use this page to find out what we've been doing over the last decade. Spoiler alert: it involves lots of small businesses growing massively.
Our SEO and digital marketing systems have repeatedly turned new startups into sector-leaders, and we can do the same for you. Here is just a sample of what we've been up to over the last 10 years or so.
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Getting to the top of Google in one language is tough. Here, we did it in three languages.
A family-run travel and hospitality business, owned and operated by a couple living in the French Alps. They offer ski holidays during the winter and activity holidays during the summer. The owners of the business are fluent speakers of French, English and Estonian. They wanted to take full advantage of this by ranking at the top of Google search results in all three languages. That meant achieving SEO success in the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Estonia.
We started by assessing the scale of the task in each language and prioritising according to the value each could bring. English speakers offered the biggest prize, so we started there and worked until we were seeing a return on the investment.
We rebuilt the sales-oriented pages on the website, streamlining them for improved user experience and better onsite optimisation. Then, we researched and built a detailed informational guide to expand the authority of the site and attract backlinks. Finally, we undertook a proactive link-building campaign to increase the site's 'Domain Authority'.
For the other two languages, we recruited translators and replicated what we had done successfully in English. Against less fierce competition, the French and Estonian sub-sites did not require much link-building, with the hard work having already been done on the English side.
Across all three languages and all nine countries, the website gained and retained position #1 rankings for all the top-target keywords. Accordingly, the company was able to grow its portfolio from three holiday properties to fifteen. Their market position became stable enough that, in addition to leasing and reselling accommodation, they were able to refurbish and build properties of their own.
This sustained SEO campaign turned a new-start business into a market leader in two years.
With a good reputation in the industry, this Irish tourism company had been offering bespoke, private bus tours for over 20 years. When they first spoke to us, it was because they wanted to enter the more lucrative but more competitive market of off-the-shelf tour packages. Crucially, though, they wanted to do this under a new name with a separate brand and website. That was always going to make the SEO job a lot harder in a market which was dominated by a government-backed company with deep pockets and household name recognition.
From the start, we were open and honest with the client that it would take a long time to displace their biggest rival. We proposed a plan which we felt would deliver top-three rankings for their target market; American searchers using Google.com. With their approval, we built the website from scratch ourselves, starting with a small, sales-oriented offering and building out from there. In SEO terms, the turning point came when we launched a hugely detailed travel guide, designed to appeal to B&B owners and their guests. We persuaded literally hundreds of them to link to what proved to be a very useful resource offering more detail and authority than even specialist sites like 'Lonely Planet' and 'Rough Guides'. As the website grew and the rankings started to improve, we spent several weeks refining the technical performance of the site, achieving a faster load speed and a better user experience than any of our rivals.
We under-promised and over-delivered. Since 2016, the website in question has held #1 rankings for all the initial target keywords and many more besides. Today, it ranks #1 in Google for over 200 keywords and is in the top-ten results for almost 1000 keywords. This dominant market position rocketed a new-start business to a turnover in the millions, all in approximately two years. With the predictability this brought, they were able to increase the number of tour packages on offer from two to eleven per year, most of them running weekly from March until October.
Three independent businesses with no brand recognition wanted to be featured in major national newspapers. This would call for an inventive approach.
We already had close relationships with these three connected businesses, working in an almost in-house capacity for them over several years. One was a mountain holidays travel business (mentioned above). The second was a food delivery business serving self-catered holidaymakers in the Alps. The third company offered ski holidays for people who are travelling alone. For the PR benefit, to boost their credibility, and also to help with SEO, all three companies wanted to get articles about them featured in major newspapers like the Mail, the Telegraph and the Irish Times.
It was immediately clear that travel-section editors were not open to direct approaches. And dedicated PR companies could offer only vague promises for the huge fees they were charging. So fresh thinking and a more creative approach were required. We found that we were able to make direct contact with freelance travel journalists quite easily, and that they were very open-minded about the prospect of a free holiday. Once we had them on board and made our own expectations clear, we persuaded them to make the pitch to the editors in person. Making the approach this way, we would have a much higher chance of success.
All three businesses were featured in their target publications by the end of the following holiday season. With their foot in the door and some good contacts in place, two of the three businesses went on to feature in several other pieces both in these newspapers and in several others besides.
Every company in Europe was emailing their subscribers asking the same question: please can we keep emailing you after the deadline next week? Our job was to stand out enough to keep the audience in the fold.
We had close ties with several small businesses who all seemed likely to get caught out by the EU's new GDPR legislation. Each of the companies had subscriber lists in the low thousands. The problem was, none had kept any records of how or when the recipients had subscribed. Once the deadline had passed, emailing without renewed consent would be illegal. It was also illegal to offer any incentives for resubscribing.
We sent just two newsletters per mailing list, drawing on our knowledge of conversion rates optimisation. In each case, we avoided the tactics which we were seeing elsewhere: namely, the idea that the passing deadline would cause people to default into losing their subscription. We felt that the idea of a default option would lead people to take no action. Instead, what we presented was a choice between two buttons. An attractive "yes" button in the more commonly-chosen left position, or a greyed-out "no" button on the right. As a subject line, we chose the personal "Can we stay in touch? (from [sender first name])".
We got more than we dared to hope for in the circumstances. The opening and click-through rates were among the highest these companies had ever seen. Of those who clicked, 84% selected our preferred option and remained as active subscribers. The net result was that the subscriber lists were purged of any dead wood, leaving a more more engaged and responsive audience.
We were lucky to have a client who offered such incredible service that not one of their many customers ever gave less than five stars. The challenge became how to persuade the customers to keep leaving reviews when their record was so strong already.
This small hospitality business knew us well from when we did their SEO campaign. To boost their credibility and so improve their conversion rate, we suggested they start using TripAdvisor. We knew that that TripAdvisor's ranking algorithm relied heavily on the recency of reviews, so it would be possible to catch up with more established rivals. But, to stay top, we would have to keep the reviews coming year after year.
When people leave very positive reviews, they often see it as a small way to repay the above-and-beyond service they have received. With this client, five-star service was the minimum expectation for all staff, so there was plenty of goodwill to tap into. A system of incentives was created, rewarding any staff member who was mentioned by name in a review. Then, certificates and awards received by the company were framed and displayed in the w.c. where every customer would see them. This showed how reviews were beneficial to and valued by the company. Next, each departing customer was given a questionnaire containing just one question: if you could improve just one thing, what would it be. This gave an outlet for anyone who had one niggling reason to give just four stars. Finally, all customers received a thank you email containing a link to the company's TripAdvisor page.
The company received literally hundreds of reviews but never got less than five stars. They also received lots of genuinely useful pointers from guests who would have felt awkward about making suggestions but were happy to write a short response to the single question they were asked. The company received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence every year it was open, and was ranked as the #1 business of its kind in the region.
The client bought an old website for its SEO value but wanted to use a new domain. A hard deadline would make the task a lot harder than it might sound.
Two partners in a ski business decided to part company. They agreed that Partner A could keep the website (with its backlink profile) and Partner B could keep the brand name and the guest contact details. We were working with Partner A, so the task was to build a brand new website and get it to the top of Google in time for the next ski-holiday booking period. That gave us just a matter of weeks.
We built a first-draft version of the new website and got it online as quickly as possible, using all our best tricks to make sure it got noticed by Google. Using an official email address, we then approached all webmasters who had linked to the old website and let them know that their links would soon be out-of-date. Maybe they would like to link to our new website? While they slowly started to respond, we redirected the old website to the new domain. Google started to serve the new website but the rankings had dipped significantly. So our final task was to grow the website into a large and authoritative resource for skiers within their niche. By late-September, right on schedule, the rankings climbed and we secured that top-three rankings which would make the season a success.
Since that first winter season, this ski business has ranked #1 or #2 in Google search results for all of its top-target keywords. It currently has over 150 keywords on page one of Google.co.uk.
Our founder, Daniel Pressley, was working independently as a freelance consultant. Two small businesses both approached him about building websites. But there's a twist.
The first company was a new childcare centre which was about to open in Cardiff. The second was a funeral home which had recently been bought. Neither had any existing web presence. Both had very busy owners who needed solutions, not questions. In both cases, the task was to build a website which could be maintained by company staff with no prior knowledge of coding or web development. The twist came when it transpired that both companies wanted their websites online within a week, and neither had any text or images to put on the websites.
Daniel chose Squarespace as the easiest CMS website builder in both cases: he could build the websites very quickly this way, and maintaining the finished sites would be easy even for first-time users. Daniel then spent several hours talking to each business owner, mapping out a detailed marketing plan, including the brand voice and user persona he would need to keep in mind when writing the sales copy. Funerals and childcare require two very different styles of writing. At the same time, Daniel did some initial keyword research to help with any possible future SEO campaigns, created a site architecture to match, and then he got to work. Within a week, both sites were online.
Both businesses are now very successful, with both websites being cited by customers as a major factor in their decision making. In both local and organic SEO, both websites have prominent rankings, based solely on the quality of the onsite optimisation which Daniel did, plus a handful of links which he built as a friendly bonus.
We're not web development specialists, so we're going to keep the bragging to a minimum in this chapter. If you're planning a major web development project, we can help you with the planning and the SEO implications. We can even help you choose a web developer. But we're probably not the right people to do it for you.
Why does this even matter if we don't offer those services any more?
Well, it matters because, if you hire an SEO consultant, you need them to be able to edit and understand your website's code. You need them to be familiar with branching systems like git.
Also, you need them to be able to talk to your own development team using language which will be understood.
Using lots of dynamic PHP? That's a lot of server requests, meaning slower page load speeds. That won't help your SEO either. But, again, we can talk to your developers about that and find a workaround. We've done it before.
We're pretty fluent in geek-speak.
No pressure, no sales. Let's just have a chat and see if Growth Stream might be a good fit for you. Where do you want to take your business this year?