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Simple Steps to Start a Successful SEO Project

An Interview with Filip Silobod

For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts Matt Fraser hosted Filip Silobod, Founder of Honest Marketing. Filips outlines the initial steps for a successful SEO project, his take on the future of digital marketing and more. Watch now.

Just focus on what you like doing and what you love, and have a certain philosophy that makes you different and standout.

Filip Silobod
Founder of Honest Marketing
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of Ecoffee with Experts. I'm your host, Matt Fraser and on today's show, I have with me Filip Silobod. Filip is the founder of Honest Marketing, a digital marketing agency headquartered in Galway, Ireland. He has a bachelor's degree in business and economics from the University of Zagreb and has over eight years of experience helping businesses and entrepreneurs in the tourism and travel industry get more traffic leads and sales. When not working on marketing campaigns for clients, Filip enjoyed spending time traveling, playing basketball, and spending time with his family and friends. Well, thank you so much. Welcome to the show.

Hey, Matt. Thanks for having me.

So, Philip, how would your university professors describe you as a student?

I would say I was a good student in the class, but it did take me quite a while to finish college because I wasn’t that greatest student also. I wasn’t interested in economics especially; I was more interested in tourism. But when I got into tourism, then I really had great grades, I was very proactive. So overall, I kind of found what I liked.

So, how did you transition from working in the tourism industry to where you are now?

Well, it kind of happened by chance. I always loved tourism. I started in Croatia, which is a very tourist centric country. After my study finished, I was kind of looking for a job, of course. And then, you go to the job market and you realized you have to have at least two years of experience in any kind of job. I wish I knew that before but I didn’t.

How can you get experience if you don't have a job and how can you get a job without experience?

That’s every graduate’s problem anywhere. So, I decided to go to Ireland. The country was in the EU, it was English-speaking and I spoke English pretty well. So, I thought, I’m going to find something there and I came to Dublin. I was looking for any kind of job, really. I got some manual jobs here and then, but nothing really does make me happy or what I studied for. So, I applied for an internship. And also, internships are just so hard to get. Especially if you’re a foreigner I think, because they don’t know your college days and your background. So, somehow, I ended up getting an internship finally. It wasn’t in the city was really far out and I got an internship in an agency that did digital marketing websites and booking for hotels. And I had worked in hotels, as I had a lot of interest in tourism and health. And I felt this was perfect for me. So, I started as an intern. I feel not many college students know about and I had no idea. But, you know, I got the SEO internship so I had to learn, first of all, what it was and then through the whole process of it. SEO is a whole language on its own.

Right on. So, do you think the experience you gained at Aero Digital has helped you and your development as an entrepreneur and overall digital marketer?

Oh yeah. I mean, that was my first agency experience and I was there for 3-4 years. I started as an intern and then I got the job after 9 months as a full-time employee. It was a big learning experience, especially since then every day was something new. And you get used to learning every day. So, it’s kind of like if you stop learning, that’s what happened to me after three years, people left and the seniors, you know, the people who taught me school and all that, they were gone. I was kind of a senior now so I lacked some of that mentorship I would say and I just learning new things that I got used to. I learned analytics along with SEO really well and I aspire to learn other things little by little. After three or four years, it’s kind of was at a standstill. I was looking for new challenges. And I kind of knew how the agency worked. And I got the idea that I could maybe do this on my own. I at least have some clients now. I didn’t want anything big; I just thought some things could have been done maybe better if I was in charge. I would talk to the clients, I would kind of be more honest with them, and having more conversations with them if I was working with them. So that’s where the idea flow came in. Because in digital marketing, you don’t need a lot of investment to work. You need your knowledge and you need a few tools. Then you can work anywhere.

Yeah absolutely, what do you love most about digital marketing?

I like that it’s never the same and it is always challenging. I can say I love the fact that it is challenging. It’s difficult sometimes, but it’s never the same. So, it’s never boring and there is always this possibility to grow. That’s the thing I like about it.

What's been your favorite digital marketing project so far?

Oh, I think it’s the one actually from a year ago. It was SEO, I was approached by a company that was offering something new. But if you Google, you know, they were offering consulting in different finance sectors. So, it was like hiring a consultant under different financial issues and it was a new site. Then I was thinking, what kind of keywords should we target here? And it was mostly a niche. They were like, hire, and then you had some kind of niche industry consultant keyword who you were. And then when I looked up what’s ranking there, it was all the big companies do Upwork. And I was thinking we have to go this way. I don’t think there’s another set of keywords or something, everything else is too broad. So, I thought we have to make a good SEO strategy, it could fail though. And I always thought, like the pages these guys have up in top style offer. For each of these financial keywords we want and how can we make them better. The main part was that they have so many pages that we can focus more on our pages and have more content than that. So, this could give us an advantage and if you just focus on financial factors that could indicate the good, maybe it could be higher than these sites that don’t focus on a specific image. And that was what was successful in the end.

That is quite awesome.

The conversion rate for super high.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their own digital marketing agency?

Digital marketing has different sections in it. We have SEO, we have social media, and we have websites and I would advise trying all of them. You know, try them out and then figure out which one you like the most. Pick up certain skills and focus on them.

What do you think has been the biggest challenge in digital marketing over the last few years?

Probably the rising cost, that’s probably global. You know, so many people going with Ad, this is going to increase the cost per click, that’s probably our big challenge. And then you have SEO as well. We have more and more people producing content a lot.

Yes, producing backlinks.

We have seen every year more people investing in digital marketing. And you only have the top ten positions in the section. So, I guess it’s getting tougher.

A lot of people think digital marketing is easy. Can you debunk that myth for us?

Well, first of all, it cannot be easy if a lot of companies invest in them and they have a lot of competitors. It’s like when some people think of SEO, they think it’s going to be easy and then they come to work that way because you’re not the only one doing it. If you are the only one doing it, it would be not true.

Absolutely. And what are some of the most common reasons that SEO projects fail?

I think the lack of experience in work determines the project to failure. Just being realistic and having some kind of idea or previous experience as far as it can be in business because, you know, if you go through the small business or if you want to rank nationally or just make a blog post about global broad keywords, it’s probably going to fail. So that’s the one is it’s just not having enough experience or not being enough realistic to get some kind of an idea of where the site could rank in six months. And then you get very little traffic and more traffic. And the second one is the traffic is not converting. If you have a lot of SEOs that can grow traffic, a lot of that is probably true but if you go into analytics, a lot of them will have like 90% passes. Or even higher. So, I think these are the two reasons why SEO projects fail.

Are there any specific steps that should be taken during the initial stages of an SEO project to prevent it from failing?

Here we look at the historic data. Now, those are the websites currently ranked, what are ranked for, what kind of domain authority, and what kind of a website do you rank? Know if you have a competitor that ranks? Why do they rank? Things like that would be the preparation for any kind of project.

So, doing research.

Yeah, I was inspired to research compared to research. And then trying to make a strategy that was going to work, that you can achieve within the budget is also important.

Absolutely. So, what was your inspiration for starting your agency Honest Marketing?

When I was working with hotels, I was working for a digital marketing agency itself in 2016-2017 and I noticed a trend that was going against all the clients I was booking at TripAdvisor and their organic rankings just started to go up and up. And then Google introduced the FAQ snippet showing through search results. And each of them had at least two or three of these snippets and they’re all ranking in the first stage, and they just blew up. When you look at the top ten positions, they took over, especially because they took up so much space. So, that hotel in those years had a very difficult time ranking and getting traffic. I was the SEO guy and then he also had another negative trend that was taking away organic traffic and the brand PPC. Because, you know, hotels have a very strong, proven brand going. And then when you run a brand PPC, then it takes away a lot of organic traffic and it goes up and down very much depending on the brand. Those two trends were making a lot of appeals. Organic traffic is minus compared to last year. So, this was always a negative trend. And when I figured out why I said that the manager, said it was demotivating because it’s kind of like there’s nothing much you can do to compete with those guys. And so, there’s also this trend, they’re not helping us and the response was like, we can’t tell that to the client. You know, so simple like that because we’re kind of obliged to increase their organic traffic. And we say that we’re about growing organic traffic. And that was like a situation that was bad for me, for my motivation and I said, you know, if I was the manager, I wouldn’t sell like that, I wouldn’t do these hard sells. I would say, these are the trends and we’re going to do our best. But I wouldn’t promise any big growth or anything. So, that’s when I said, you know, if I wish I could be honest with the client. And when my time came to the end of the agency, I was kind of looking forward to it and moved to other industries. And I was thinking about the name for my business and I thought to use my own name, but my sternum is kind of hard to say in English. So, I thought, what are some of the things that I would stand for in my business? And I wanted to have a list of words and a business name. One was the reasonable SEO, So it just came in Honest Marketing and I was surprised that there weren’t the main businesses with that name.

Do you think that agencies should specialize in one industry or target multiple industries when doing marketing, or offering marketing services?

I think it’s good for them that they specialize in one because I see that trend and I think especially when you have a lot of agencies that specialize in the industry, it is easier to sell their services that way. Because they have case studies or work with these guys in your industry, we know how it works. So definitely, I think it’s the future to specialize. It’s going to go really niche. You know, an industry first, because you’re going to have agency for any kind of business out there like before. You just have to name it.

Do you think there are any challenges, though, that come with specializing in a specific industry, for instance, I know of one agency that specializes in car dealers and they would do marketing for multiple dealers in one city. And to me, that brings up an ethical issue of a conflict of interests. Like, how can you do marketing for one Toyota dealership on one side of the city and then the same marketing for another Toyota dealership, not in the same ownership group but lately in different businesses, a competitor for another dealer on the other side of the city? Makes no sense to me and they say they build a Chinese wall but I think that's bull crap. I don't know how you overcome those situations when you specialize in an industry like that.

Yeah.

Have you experienced that before?

Yes, a little bit. When I worked in the industry for health and it like that. The clients worked with other hotels. So, they’re kind of trying to dodge that, to focus on other cities.

Yeah. Do you think that you should develop a policy that you only work in a 100-mile or 100-kilometer range or something like that? Like, I know that tree movers in Texas, have a 15-mile radius where they work in and outside of that, it's too costly for them to go outside of that range. Now, 50 miles may not be exact, but I know it's a small radius. And so, you could find out what the radius is of that business in regards to how far they're willing to go to get a customer and say, okay, well, we won't work with another similar business within this radius, just so that we have your best interests in mind. What do you think?

Yeah. I think it’s kind of like both sides. I think for the agency, they have the knowledge of working with two businesses that could be competitors. You have more knowledge about each and you’re probably going to do the job. But yeah, maybe that’s not great.

So, what's your take on the future of digital marketing?

Yeah. I think with digital marketing, one thing is for sure in terms of media, Video is probably the best form right now and that’s probably going to stay like that in the future. I would still be saying depends on how far virtual reality will go.

Yeah, I'll be amazing. The VR sites and the metaverse. It's going to be very interesting.

They’re going to be probably challenging and I know one thing, you know, with Google in the way they’re going with Google ads is more of like they want to push this broad match keyword a lot. So, you have less and less control.

Yeah. I wonder if marketers will push back on that.

I hope so, but again Google makes the rules. They do have some EU rules.

I wonder if anybody will ever disrupt Google. Come along and disrupt them.

And I think it would be better to have more competition in the market.

That's true. Yeah, I agree. So, what's one big takeaway you want listeners to get from this episode?

Just focus on what you like doing or what you love and have a certain philosophy that makes you probably different.

Absolutely, right on. And how can our listeners connect with you online?

It’s mostly on LinkedIn, so you can just Google me or go to my website, which is honestmarketing.ie.

Fantastic. We will make sure to put that information in the show notes. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been great to have you here.

Thank you for having me.

You're welcome.

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