Five Ways To Dramatically Grow Your Blog Traffic

September 27th, 2013

Believe it or not, for a lot of people, blogging and promoting their blog is their full time job. Creating and monetizing their content is what pays the bills and feeds their families. This might be the same for you.

There are several different monetization models for blogs, some of which are as follows:

• Display Advertising
• Product Reviews
• Affiliate/Publisher Programs
• AdSense
• Etc.

Regardless of the method of monetization, the truth is, to create more revenue, you often times need more traffic. For example, with display advertising, the sheer number of page views is what generates revenue, so it is vital to ramp up and keep your traffic growing each and every month. Because of this, I’m writing this post today.

In this post I want to talk about five different ways to dramatically increase the traffic coming to your blog. The concepts in this post can apply to any website or business, but if you are of the “make money blogging” mindset, then pay close attention because these are some serious nuggets of wisdom!

Post Optimization

The very first thing you can do to grow traffic to your blog is to perform keyword research and optimize your post. Use the keyword planner tool and look at variations of words that your audience might be searching for.

Once you have a list, make sure to work them into your title and throughout your post. If you include images in your post, make sure to optimize them with the keywords as well. Here’s a great guide to optimizing a webpage… also relevant for blog posts.

Seed Your Content

After you create some killer content, the next thing you need to do is seed it. This means different things to different individuals, but I like to break it down to the following:

• If you linked out to other resources (and you should EVERY time), reach out to them, let them know you linked to them, and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing it.
• If you have any friends in the space, reach out to them and ask them to share it.
• Tap into networks like Viral Content Buzz, Just Retweet, and Triberr.

Paid Promotion

Don’t be afraid to pay for traffic. Tapping into Facebook Promoted Posts and Stumble Upon paid discovery are fantastic ways to generate more interest in your blog. Facebook Promoted Posts seem to be doing wonders for my clients right now and highly recommend them to anyone putting out great content on a regular basis.

Guest Post

Even if you’ve heard that guest posting is dead… it is not! Make time each week to develop relationships with other blog owners in your niche and publish posts on their blogs.

When publishing these posts, make sure to include links back to your website as well as calls to action to follow you via social media and subscribe to your RSS feed. The goal is to generate more traffic and keep them coming back to your blog for more.

Community Participation

Lastly, participating in the community is a great way to drive more traffic and visibility for your blog. Take time each week to participate in forums and comment on other blogs. I like to create a list of 5-10 blogs and forums that I participate in on a regular basis. This way the owners and members of these properties see me and get to know me. You are more likely to make friends and bring them back to your site, thus increasing your revenue.

Putting in place these five strategies alone will help you start growing your blog traffic and revenue. There are obviously other strategies out there, but these are those that are high impact and will help you achieve the growth you desire.

About The Author

Greg Shuey is a digital marketing executive for and Stryde. When not blogging and taking care of clients, Greg loves to ski and spend time with his wife and kids.

Local Online Marketing – Get Social (Step 6)

August 30th, 2012

Please read Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4 and Step 5 for the whole story.

Social media for small businesses is a topic all on its own. For some small businesses (restaurants, photographers, etc.), social can be your #1 traffic driver but for many other types of small businesses (plumbers, insurance, etc.), social doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

Regardless of the nature of your industry, it’s a well-known fact that social can aid your SEO efforts and help you get ranked and we definitely expect it to become more and more integrated in the future.


In terms of social, we generally recommend you participate on many of the main networks like Facebook, Twitter and any others where your target audience may be. Being active and social on all of those networks can often indirectly but positively affect your SEO efforts.

For this series of posts, we’re going to focus on Google+. Many people label Google+ as a social network but it is much more than that. Google+ is essentially a knowledge network and an additional layer that Google can place over search results and its other products to deliver you a better experience.

Google also recently changed Google Places to Google+ Local, integrating local search with this new network. Up to this point, it has only been a cosmetic change but this gives us many signs about how Google will incorporate local search to their social network.

Google+ Local Reviews

The move to Google+ Local did have a pretty big impact on reviews. Google changed their 5-star method to the Zagat method (30 point system). Google also new requires you to have a Google+ account to leave reviews and forces you to use your real name throwing anonymity out the door.

For most businesses, this probably isn’t a huge issue but consider industries like plastic surgery, pay day loans, DUI attorneys, etc. and you can see why this would deter happy clients from leaving reviews.

I want to preface this by saying that it’s only a prediction but also a general belief my most local search analysts. We do believe that reviews will become a bigger ranking factor for local search. As Google feels more confident that reviews aren’t being spammed by knowing more about the reviewers through Google+, they can adjust rankings based on quality of reviews.

It’s also important to note that when you write a review, it is automatically posted to your Google+ feed for all of your friends to see. You can also limit your local searches to see those reviewed by friends.

In the long run, being active on Google+ is definitely recommended. It may not big as big as Facebook right now but it could significantly impact your local search rankings on Google.

About The Author

Bryan Phelps manages’s small business division and a team of local search experts. Contact for additional information.

Local Online Marketing – Reviews (Step 5)

August 6th, 2012

Make sure to read Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Step 4 to catch up.

Customer reviews are something pretty unique to local search. Many popular business listing sites like Google+ Local, Yelp and others allow customers to rate your business and leave a review about the experience they had. Many of these services also allow you to respond to the reviews as the site owner.

There are two important factors regarding reviews and local search: Quantity and quality. As it is now, Google places much more emphasis on the quantity of reviews your business has over the actual rating and reviews you receive. However, other sites like take into account the ratings you receive.

In the screenshots above, you’ll notice that the top ranking sites have a lot more reviews than the other businesses but the score for those reviews don’t necessarily correlate to rankings.

However, review quality is very important from a conversion perspective. If you were researching two businesses and one had far superior reviews, you’ll naturally contact them first in most cases.

It’s also believed that review quality will become more more important in Google’s local search ranking algorithm. Review spam has always been a major concern but with Google now requiring you to have a Google+ Local account to leave reviews, they are more easily able to identify real users based on your overall activity from spam accounts.

How to get reviews

Getting people to actually review you can be harder than you think. It’s easy to ask a few friends and family but to generate reviews long-term, you need a strategy. I also want to state that you should never have people leave you fake reviews or purchase fake reviews from a 3rd party.

In your review strategy, you want to take into account the velocity in which you receive reviews. If you go out tomorrow and get 10 reviews in one week but then receive 0 for the next 6 months, it looks suspicious and Google may remove them, even if they are truly legitimate.

So where do you start in getting reviews? Here are 3 tips to get started.

  1. Work your social networks – These people already like you enough to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever network you’re on. Contact them individually; don’t just send a blast to your whole network.
  2. Email list – if you don’t collect customer emails, you should start today. One great way to use a customer email list is to ask for reviews personally and individually. Again, don’t just send a huge email blast. I recommend segmenting your customer email list. For example:
    1. Gmail accounts send to Google+ Local
    2. MSN/Yahoo accounts send to Yelp
    3. You may also want to contact new customers within a couple days of a sale while you’re fresh on their minds to get a review
    4. “Review Us!” everywhere – make it easy for people to remember to reviews you. Depending on your type of business, here are a few places you could promote your review campaign:
      1. Receipts
      2. Invoices
      3. Website
      4. Flyers/Handouts in-store
      5. Business cards
      6. Mailers

Get creative with your business and find ways to implement a review strategy in your business. As mentioned, this isn’t a one-time event but should become a common practice if you’re focused on local search.

About The Author

Bryan Phelps has been involved in local search optimization since 2007 and currently manages the Local and Small Business SEO teams at

Local Online Marketing – Get Citations (Step 4)

August 1st, 2012

Make sure you read Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 to catch up.

There are a lot of similarities between local search ranking factors and traditional SEO ranking factors. For example, it’s pretty well-known that you have to optimize your website and then build links to your site as a signal of popularity, trust and relevancy.

For local search, think of your Google Places listing as your website and citations as your links. To get more specific, citations are your businesses name, address and phone number listed on a 3rd party website. As Google crawls the web and finds instances of your name, address and phone number (no HTML link required), it records that as a citation.

Google Places (now Google+ Local) has historically been the victim of unscrupulous marketers trying to game the system by stealing competitor’s listings, hurting their rankings or using the system as a lead generation company without an actual location. One way Google tries to combat that is by trying to identify real businesses based on them having citations on other websites like,, etc.

Google can also learn a lot about a business by citations. For example, if your business is prominently listed in many city/regional directories, it’s a strong indication about your location and popularity in those locations. There are also many industry directories you can obtain citations from which provides more signals to Google.

Step 3: Where to find citations

There are quite a few places you can obtain citations to improve your local search rankings. In addition to improving rankings, building citations around the web also can also list you in some major online directories which may actually drive calls and website traffic.

If you followed along in Step 2, you’re already on your way to creating citations. In Step 2, we talked about managing your business data at the top local search sites and the 4 major data aggregators. If you’ve claimed, optimized and fixed those listings, you’re creating citations.

One of the most efficient ways to create citations is through the data aggregators like Localeze and Infogroup. These companies can take months to distribute your data but when they do, it’s made available on hundreds of other websites, potentially creating hundreds of citations for you.

Industry Citations

Google places a lot of value in industry-focused citations. If you spend much time online, you’re probably pretty aware of some of the more popular websites for your industry. If you haven’t already, make sure to create your profile and match up your NAP data with the data in your Google+ Local profile.

For example, Avvo is a very popular website in the legal and health niches. Not only does this website have listings for lawyers and other professions, they also have a rating system, Q&A and other cool features built-in.

For most common professions, there are sites just like these available to build out a profile and participate in. In addition to popular sites like these, there are also general industry web directories that are more basic and just provide Yellow Page-style listings. Search on Google and Bing for terms like [industry] [city] directory or [industry] directory to find more citations sources in your industry.

Regional Citations

Similar to industry citations, Google also places a lot of emphasis on citations on websites that are super focused on your city, state or region. In most areas, your local news portals will probably have local directories. Here in Utah, is a very popular site. As mentioned before, these types of directories not only help you by building citations but could very well drive new business.

Start with the local directories that you already know about. If you’ve exhausted those, keep doing more Google and Bing searches to find more regional directories. Queries like [city] business directory or [state] business directory will usually turn up some that you may not have seen before.

Unstructured Citations

Most of the citation sources we’ve mentioned so far are your more typical business listing sites but Google also counts unstructured citations. An unstructured citation is your business name, address and phone number on other websites (outside of business listing sites). For example, if Google found your NAP data in a news article, on someone’s blog or other websites, it may count that as a citation if it can confidently associate your name, address and phone number.

I definitely recommend started with structured citations in general, industry and local business listing sites first but if you’ve gone through all of those and aren’t ranked #1 already, you can move on to building unstructured citations.

If you’re already promoting your businesses products or services on 3rd party websites like Craigslist, make sure to including your NAP data to make the most of your efforts.

Another great way to build unstructured citations is to include your NAP data on the traditional SEO link building you may be doing. For example, if you write a guest blog post, put your NAP data in your “About the Author” section.

About The Author

Bryan Phelps leads the local search and small business SEO teams for To learn more about this company, please visit

Local Online Marketing – Site Optimization (Step 3)

July 11th, 2012

Make sure you read Step 1 and Step 2 to get started.

It’s no secret that the majority of people now use the Internet to find local businesses.

It’s always possible they’ll find you in Google Maps, Yelp or and call you from there but many users will go a step further and research your business by visiting your website.

Google and other search engines are also putting increasingly more value on your website in terms of how you rank for local searches.

It’s important that you site has the right site optimization factors for local search and that it’s conversion friendly to turn that website traffic into more business.

Step 3:
Site optimization for local search

There are many, many articles about how to optimize your site for SEO.  The majority of them contain great tips and I recommend implementing as much of it as you can.  However, these site optimization tips will focus solely on local search.  If you are a local business, these site optimization tips should be implemented in addition to general SEO best practices.

Localized Content

In February 2012, Google made a significant change in local search called the Venice Update.  In short, Google started displaying local content for search terms Google deemed had local intent but didn’t have a geo-modifier in the query.  Overall, this is a big win for local businesses.

Prior to the Venice Update, if you searched for “divorce attorney”, you would see general information or directories with listings for divorce attorneys.  After the Venice update, Google started using your IP address to show a mix of national and localized results.  This means divorce attorneys in the same area as the searchers IP address now have a shot at ranking where they wouldn’t have in the past.

How can you take advantage of the Venice Update? It’s pretty simple but many business owners aren’t doing it.  Create a lot of local content and send a lot of signals to search engines about your location.

  • For multiple location businesses, create a unique page for each city you have locations and a unique page for each location.
  • Make sure that content has the city, state and service keywords in the title tag, content and URL.
  • Make sure your city, state and service keywords are in a portion of the anchor text of your backlinks.

Local Business Schema

Google, Yahoo and Bing all support the markup available on There is an overwhelming amount of information and options on that website so just focus on the local business schema for now.  The schema is structured markup that all search engines recognize and understand.  Putting the local business schema markup on your website around your business name, address and phone number will send a very clear signal to Google that the information listed on your website is for your local business.

Schema can really easy to implement.  Once you have the schema code, place it in the footer of your site so it is on all pages if you have a single location.  If you have multiple locations, use the schema for each location page.

Use to get your schema code quick and easy.  Here is an example of what yours might look like:

Blended Local Results

In the past, Google didn’t do a very good job of tying your Google Places listing to your website.  It was possible that your local business profile and your website would rank independently of each other.  Google has changed that this year and now show blended results; meaning they blend your website and your Places listing into one result.

This also means that in order to rank well for many local search queries, you need to be optimizing both your website and your Places listing.  Here are some of the common ranking factors for traditional SEO and local search that you need to consider to rank well.

Traditional SEO ranking factors:

  • Domain Authority
  • Site structure
  • Keywords usage throughout your website
  • Quantity and Quality of Backlinks

Local Search Ranking Factors

  • Claiming and Optimizing your listing on Google
  • Obtaining citations on other sites like Yelp, Superpages and other similar sites.
  • Quantity and quality of reviews

Your website is the cornerstone of all your online marketing efforts from local SEO to PPC to social media. Invest some time in updating and improving your site both from a usability and SEO standpoint.  The local search tips above are important for ranking well but your website is also your virtual storefront and should represent your business and brand appropriately.

About The Author

Bryan Phelps is the Director of SEO, Small Business for He oversees strategy and fulfillment for the small business search engine optimization clients. To learn more about Bryan or, please visit their site.

Local Online Marketing – Local Business Data Ecosystem (Step 2)

June 26th, 2012

Did you miss step 1? Click here to start at the beginning.

SEO Local Business Search DataThere are a lot of similarities between optimizing for local search and a traditional search engine optimization campaign. As you can imagine, Google uses a lot of the same ranking theories for local search listings as they do traditional website search results; relevancy and popularity.

Step 2 of running a successful local SEO campaign focuses on understanding and optimizing your local listings and your general business data around the web.

Get familiar with this term: NAP. It stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. In a normal SEO campaign, it’s common to build backlinks to your website to increase your relevancy, popularity and authority. In local search, Google looks for your Name, Address and Phone number listed on other websites as a ‘link’ or indication of popularity.

It’s extremely important that throughout a local search campaign that you are writing your NAP very consistently. Everything should be identical. Here are some common variations that you’d want to avoid:

  • Joe’s Plumbing LLC -vs- Joe’s Plumbing
  • 123 Red St -vs- 123 Red Street
  • Joe’s Plumbing and Heating -vs- Joes Plumbing

Step 2: The essentials: claim, fix & optimize

Local search is pretty fragmented right now. Many people use Google to find businesses but they are also using mobile apps from Yelp, in-car GPS systems and in the near future, we’ll see the full impact of Apple’s new map service where many iOS users will find local businesses.

It’s important to claim your listing and make sure you are properly represented on the following sites:

  • Google+ Local (Places)
  • Google MapMaker
  • Bing
  • Yahoo! Local
  • Yelp
  • Best of the Web
  • Citysearch
  • Superpages
  • Yellowpages
  • Foursquare

In addition to these major individual local search sites, there are 4 major data aggregators that really fuel the vast majority of all local business data, online and offline.

  • Localeze
  • Infogroup
  • D&B
  • Acxiom

Make sure your business data is listed (with consistent NAP) to the local search sites and aggregators listed above. If your business data should ever change, you’ll want to go through the same process and update them. Check your listings occasionally to ensure that your data hasn’t magically changed (it happens). Some of these sites also allow users to leave reviews (Yelp, Google Places, etc.) so you’ll want to check in often to respond to reviews.

Having accurate and widely distributed business listing is the major backbone of local search. Having your listings on the sites referenced in this post will not only help your local search rankings on Google but they will drive website traffic, phone calls and business to your local business.

Guest Author

Bryan Phelps is the Director of SEO, Small Business for He oversees strategy and fulfillment for the small business search engine optimization clients. To learn more about Bryan or, please visit their site.

Local Online Marketing – Getting Started Step 1

June 15th, 2012

Local small business owners around the country are becoming more familiar with the importance of online marketing.

With the popularity of smartphones, more and more people are turning to local search engines on internet yellow page websites to find local products and service businesses. The Kelsey Group reports that 74 percent of Internet users perform local searches.

So how does a small business get started and get found for local searches? This 6-step road map will help any small business owner get on the right track. In this post we’ll specifically focus on laying the groundwork for you campaign.

Step 1: Keyword Research And Tracking

The first step is to understand what terms people are using to find local businesses in your area and in your industry. We often find 4 categories of potential keywords (in order of popularity, with examples):

  1. City + Service (‘Provo dentist, dentist in Provo UT’)
  2. Zip + Service (‘dentist 84605’)
  3. Local Terminology + Service (‘Utah Valley dentist’)
  4. Local Landmarks + Service (‘dentist near BYU’)

Use free tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to get started in your research. We also recommend building out your site with great content to attract long-tail searches which you may not find in your keyword research.

It’s important to also set up tracking so you can monitor the progress of your campaign. It’s important to justify any marketing expense and time you put into online marketing. Here are a few ways to track a local online marketing campaign:

  1. Google Analytics (FREE) – Google Analytics will tell you how many people are on your website, where they came from, what keywords they used and much, much more.
  2. Google Places Dashboard (FREE) – When you claim your business through Google Places (soon to be Google+ Local), Google provides a free dashboard showing you the performance of your listing.
  3. Offline Tracking (FREE) – We’ve all seen or been asked “How did you hear about us?” In many cases, we recommend asking your clients this question. Sometimes this is the only way to track a conversion. Take a walk-in business for example. If I search for “Lehi barber”, find a business’s address and walk into the store to get a haircut, that conversion cannot fully be traced back using any of the previous forms mentioned.
  4. Call Tracking ($Cost) – We include this form of tracking to specifically recommend you DO NOT use it. Call tracking services provide you a new phone number where the service can track your call volume, length, answer ration and many other stats. As an online marketer, I love the idea of being able to track these things. However, with the way Google analyzes online businesses, call tracking numbers can actually be a detriment to your campaign. We’ll go into further detail about this later in the series.

Once you’ve identified the most popular keywords for your industry and market and have setup a process to track your performance and progress, you will be ready to move on to step 2 of our local search blueprint. Stay tuned!

Guest Author

Bryan Phelps is the Director of SEO, Small Business for He oversees strategy and fulfillment for the small business search engine optimization clients. To learn more about Bryan or, please visit their site.

The Importance of Backlinks

March 6th, 2012

As usual, this post comes as a result of a friend asking a good question: “Is it smart to have external sites linking to your blog?” he asked. “Yes“, I replied. And here is what I told him…

When an external site links to your site, we call this a ‘backlink’. Typically a backlink is an indication of a reference or an endorsement. As such, backlinks are a strong indicator of popularity. Popularity is one of the driving forces behind SEO, and so therefore backlinks are of extreme importance; the more you have, the better.

Search engines are on a constant lookout for good content, and one of the ways they measure whether content is good is by how many people are referencing or endorsing the content. This is sort of a ‘crowd-sourcing‘ strategy that assumes that if more people are referencing a specific article, that the article must be more relevant than articles that are otherwise being ignored. This is why ‘going viral’ is the pinnacle of SEO; the greater the number of people who are interested in your article, the more the article appears to be relevant.

Search engines tally up the number of links they find to a given article, and use that number to gauge it’s popularity or ‘relevance’.

To explain, let’s say that you write and post an article about rain clouds, and it is a particularly good article with well-researched information and a few funny anecdotes that make it entertaining to read. You tell a few of your friends about it, and they like it enough to share it to their Facebook friends. They do this by including a link to your article on their Facebook page with a short note about how funny they think the article is.

Search engines are starting to index Facebook content, so there is a good chance some of these initial links will be counted. Search engines will recognize that someone thought the article was worthwhile, and give your article a little boost in their ratings.

Next, let’s say that a few of the friends on Facebook are bloggers, and they decide to link to your article from their own articles on their own blogs. This becomes a powerful SEO popularity snowball where the more people who link to your article, the more popular your article becomes in the search engine rankings. This process acts very much like it does in high school if everyone is talking about your cool new shoes; as word gets around, more people are talking about your shoes, and more people want to see them. Eventually, the social authorities will recognize your shoes as the standard, and will reference them to everyone. Just like the search engines do to popular articles.

A few quick rules of thumb:

  1. Backlinks from sites that are discussing your given topic are more valuable than backlinks from sites that are not related by topic. This means that the search engines will give more credit to your rain cloud article if the backlinks are coming from a weather site, than if the backlinks come from a cooking site.
  2. The most valuable backlinks are the ones that are organically grown. This means that if your backlinks are natural and genuine, they will be inherently more valuable than if you elect to artificially generate backlinks. Examples of artificial backlinking include paying a ‘link farm’ to post information about your article on a series of junk sites simply to get some links created.
  3. A best practice for stimulating backlink generation is to post comments on other relevant sites, and to include a link to your article in your comments. This method is so valuable that black hat proprietors have created bots to do this automatically. You no doubt have noticed this spam in your blog. Avoid using bots, and make sure to strategically place your comments on other relevant sites with thoughtful comments that add to the conversation. Your links are more likely to be approved when you are seen as a real contributor, and the backlinks will be stronger when made from legitimate, relevant sites.
  4. Another great way to generate backlinks is to create backlinks from your site to other relevant articles. Don’t be afraid to link out to other sites from your own sites. There are two good reasons to do this: First, the more links you have to outside sites, the more the search engines will see you as a community hub, and ultimately a good destination for people looking for your type of content (such as ‘weather’ or ‘cloud watching’). Second, when you generate outgoing links, you are raising awareness to other bloggers who receive your backlinks, and are more likely to reciprocate with backlinks to you and get involved in your conversation.

Web communities are very strong when it comes to SEO, and backlinks to and from relevant websites is the most effective method to building a strong community that gets recognized and rewarded by search engines. Backlinks are not only ‘good’, they are a foundational element to your search engine optimization.

If you would really just rather I read this post to you, subscribe to my weekly Business Blogger Tips Podcast on iTunes!

Interview On Blogging With Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

February 11th, 2011

I had the pleasure of being interviewed last week by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt, who is an online marketing specialist and the driving force behind Creatives Marketing, an online marketing agency targeting small business creatives.

Sheri hosts a regular online video interview program she calls ‘Step Up’. Step Up is hosted on her SheriTV site and features online experts and professionals with great advice about how to market your business online. SheriTV is a great place to start your marketing with loads of free advice and opportunities to learn.

Sheri interviewed me about blogging, of course, and I was pleased to learn that the episode has already received some comments and shares.

Have a listen to the interview here (below) and on my podcast, or visit the interview on SheriTV for the full video experience.

Talk to you soon!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my Business Blogger Tips Podcast on iTunes!

WordCamp Utah Presentation

August 28th, 2010

I had the opportunity today to present at the WordCamp Utah event at the University of Utah.

WordCamp is a semi-regular event by and for the WordPress community. WordCamp is a great place for beginners to learn how to use the WordPress blogging software, and a great place for experienced bloggers to brush up on new tools and meet fellow bloggers.

It’s also a great way to meet Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform.

Today I have the thrill of meeting some of the great minds in our local online community, listening to Matt, and participating as a speaker myself; quite a thrill!

Here are my slides: Cary Snowden at WordCamp Utah 2010