Interview with Phil Laboon, founder and CEO of Eyeflow Internet Marketing.
Cristian: Hi Phil! You run an SEO company, so today we are going to talk about online marketing. What exactly does your company do?
Phil: We specialize in Organic SEO at Eyeflow. In other words, we focus on increasing website traffic and non-paid rankings in search engines. Our clients are located all across the country and come from a variety of industries. We also utilize Pay Per Click advertising and Social Media to target campaigns and generate traffic, create leads and customers, and produce a strong return on investment.
Cristian: I think everybody has heard about Social Media, but not everybody knows about its real impact on a business. People think “I have to have a Facebook page,” but they don’t really know if it’s going to help their businesses. What’s your take on this?
Phil: I think it’s vital to track the impact of Facebook and other social media efforts in terms of your overall online campaign. Looking at exposure and referral traffic between social media accounts and your website is a great way to do this.
Cristian: I bet when you started the business, things were a bit different. When did you actually start and how was the beginning?
Phil: When I started back in 2001, there were a lot of quick ways to rank organically. As Google’s algorithm evolved, ranking became more and more complex. A lot of people used to say SEO would be dead in a few years, but these advancements have only made our services more necessary.
Cristian: What was your elevator pitch back then? And what did you tell your friends you were doing?
Phil: I told my friends that I am an Internet marketer and I help people make more money online. My elevator pitch depended largely on who I was speaking with.
Cristian: What has changed over the years in online marketing?
Phil: What hasn’t changed? This industry changes, sometimes drastically, from month to month. Recently there is more of an emphasis on a website’s overall online “brand” so to speak. Having a strong identity online is becoming increasingly important.
Cristian: What makes your services special?
Phil: Eyeflow focuses on 100% white-hat, quality online marketing. The success of our clients after the Google Panda and Penguin updates is a strong indicator of the level of our services.
Cristian: A lot of companies are outsourcing online marketing to offshore companies. I noticed on your site you are quite focused on the Pittsburgh area. Does this sort of “real world location” focus make a difference in the quality of the services and the results?
Phil: Definitely! There are multiple problems with sending work overseas including lower quality content and ineffective links. Google updates are continuously making it harder for these “link mills” to show any results. We are seeing that customers are being pushed to companies here in the United States because of this.
Cristian: Back in the days when you started the business in the basement, did you think Eyeflow will become what it is today?
Phil: I didn’t. I thought that I would remain a single consultant, or maybe that it would grow to a 2 person consulting group. I never thought that I would have employees, but as we gained more and more clients it became necessary to hire more talent.
Cristian: What kind of companies do you have in your portfolio?
Phil: We’ve worked with small “mom and pop” stores and businesses here in Pittsburgh and with nationally known leaders. Hertz Rent-a-Car, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Giant Eagle are some examples.
Cristian: How important is online marketing for a small company versus a big/established business?
Phil: I think it’s vital for both. Small companies need it to effectively reach their niche of customers. Big companies need online marketing in order to stay on top, especially with so many small companies joining the game.
Cristian: I’ve seen cases where a company ranked high on some services or even paid for advertising, but when following the links the content wasn’t convincing. This always made me wonder why people invest in online marketing if they don’t pay any attention to their content, especially when it doesn’t convert. Or even worse, sometimes pages are missing. What are the biggest mistakes in this area?
Phil: Most people think that SEO is only links and keywords, but Google looks at a website’s overall brand. Also, sometimes people think they can get away with tricking Google, but with the newest updates, those days are truly over.
Cristian: By the way, how many people you have on staff today? And why does your staff page mention “the dogs”? 🙂 Did you have that feeling that “I’m doing ok, I’m not a start-up anymore.”
Phil: We have 24 total employees. I bring the dogs to the office every day, so it seemed right to mention the smallest members of our team on the staff page. I’m not concerned with being considered a start-up because of the presence we have built here in our area and in the industry.
Cristian: How did you get from being a one man company to what you have today? Making annual business plans? Or is more about following inspiration?
Phil: A lot of hard work and a lot of luck brought us to where we are. We’ve had some really high “ups” and some really low “downs”, but dedication always won out in the end. We’ve learned from past mistakes, and those experiences have only made us better. Ultimately, we offer a quality product at a good price and there’s a demand for that in online marketing.
Cristian: You have quite a presence at conferences and through traditional media. Does this mean that although you are an online marketing company, Internet marketing should always work together with face-to-face exposure? I’m asking because a lot of businesses that have an online selling channel don’t pay any attention to traditional media, and I’ve always questioned myself what is most advantageous.
Phil: Strong branding is important online and offline. I’m really into making sure our analog sales materials reflect the quality and value of our services. Success is in those details.
Cristian: What would be your advice for small businesses looking to get online marketing services?
Phil: Provide as much education to your audience as possible, whether you’re working on marketing yourself or with an agency. It’s vital to build your online reputation and identity.