We’re super excited to cross the decade threshold, to celebrate what feels like a very significant milestone in the GrowTraffic journey, and this has given me plenty of time to reflect. And it has been a journey!
For those of you who don’t know, GrowTraffic, or GT as we often refer to it, is a digital marketing agency. We focus on SEO, which means we help our clients to boost their online presence by creating content to drive up customer numbers.
GrowTraffic has bases in Lancashire and South Yorkshire and perhaps bizarrely to some, we owe its origins, in part, to a website on rat breeding I launched in 2000.
This website attracted attention from all over the world and taught me a lot about marketing, onsite SEO and selling online. Through this website, I met a lot of really interesting people, some of whom are some of my best friends to this day. I sold to people all over the country and exported to a number of different countries around the world.
Once I’d completed university, I was ready for the real world of work and I was fortunate enough to work for a marketing agency that worked exclusively with the commercial vehicle industry. It was during this period and through my work with a certain truck manufacturer, I started to understand the benefit of offsite SEO.
I’d done some marketing and market research work on a freelance basis, but it was whilst working in the marketing team at the server hosting giant UKFast that I began to formulate the idea for GrowTraffic. During this time we entered recession and it was really brought home to me the importance of developing a side project to help protect me in the future, should I ever struggle to find work.
The phrase “grow traffic” had become my catchphrase and was a bit of a joke in the marketing team at UKFast, but I was sure it would give me a brand I could scale from a freelance consultancy to an agency, should that ever be the direction I wanted to take it.
Now, I should point out 2019’s GrowTraffic is very different from that of 2009. The services are virtually the same, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the prevailing SEO winds. But it is the current iteration – what I think of as GrowTraffic V5 – that is by far the most successful and certainly, its success has been achieved in spite of me.
It was during GT V3 that we made our first serious inroads into developing the GrowTraffic brand, moving it away from all being about me.
For several months in 2012, GT V3 was paying the salaries of a number of people, but it didn’t last and for most of the first five years it was just my side hustle. My main plan was to create a client base I could fall back on when I stopped working in corporate marketing land.
After a few false starts, false dawns and wrong paths over the last 10 years, the business really took flight after my wife Rachel Weinhold began working on the business full time in 2014.
Rachel has a degenerative back condition and was medically retired from her job in the NHS; at one stage she was bed-bound. She had always worked so when she was well enough, she began working with GrowTraffic’s clients as a copywriter and retrained to understand the often misunderstood world of SEO, which is the core and foundation of GrowTraffic.
Prior to this, our services had been moving towards a more content marketing based approach due to the radical changes Google had introduced in the previous few years. Fortunately, the timing was great and this aligned really well to Rachel’s background, as she has a degree in English and had previously set up a publishing and events business.
The client base switched from national to local through Rachel’s industry and the business began to soar, but the volume of new work was in danger of swamping her.
At the same time Rachel’s sister Hannah, who lives in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was facing redundancy from her position as Service Operations Manager at a tech company, following that business’s acquisition.
She joined the GrowTraffic team as Commercial Director and began to put in place the kind of processes and systems to facilitate further growth. This also gave GrowTraffic access to new contracts and a Rotherham location, and we now have a number of significant clients throughout Yorkshire and the East Midlands. She also created our Rotherham base, first by recruiting her former colleague, Elicia McManus as Head of Content.
The team worked tirelessly to develop our reputation, focusing on our values of honesty, integrity and transparency. Our values are really important because ‘SEO Agency’ is a dirty word for many business owners. That’s because many people engage an SEO agency and have high expectations and often have a limited understanding of what they have got for their money and because they’ve often been burned by SEOs in the past.
We decided to change this by positioning ourselves as the antidote to SEO agencies, by focusing on a content marketing approach to SEO and teaching our clients how to do their own SEO and digital marketing.
More employees followed and we were up to five employees when I finally found myself in a position to work on GrowTraffic full-time. It was around this time that we also won our much-coveted Business of the Year award from the Rossendale Business Awards, which are organised by Valley at Work. This had a massive impact on us, helping us open new doors throughout Lancashire.
Now six people work for GrowTraffic full-time, we have a number of contractors. We plan to recruit a further member of staff before the end of the year and we’re looking into buying a building to house the business.
The evolving brand:
Plenty of people have been involved in GrowTraffic over the years – too many to mention here – and I am personally very grateful to the contributions everyone of them has made.
We have big dreams and the determination to deliver. But I do wonder where GT will be as I head towards my half-century, in 10 years from now!