Exclusive Interview With An SEO And Internet Marketing Veteran Of 15 Years.
This is the 3rd in the series of interviews with successful online entrepreneurs and bloggers.
Today the limelight is on David McSweeney who's been in the business for 15 years.
Aside from being an SEO and internet marketer, he's a musician, hair salon owner, and budding novelist. A man of many talents.
Let's grill him further...
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For anyone who doesn't know you, who are you and what are you all about?
I'm a 33 year old internet marketer from Glasgow, Scotland.
I've been involved in web development/SEO for over 15 years (who else remembers excite and overture?) and currently run a white hat SEO/affiliate marketing blog at Top 5 SEO + a number of my own successful niche affiliate sites.
How did you get started in internet marketing?
Back in 1999, I launched my first website, which was for my band Surround.
I figured no one is going to search for us (an unsigned Glasgow band) and started looking into how the search engines work (was all very new back then).
When google refreshed (you used to have to wait a while for that!) my new super spammy keyword-stuffed title tag: - 'Beatles mp3, Travis mp3, Radiohead mp3' etc... brought in a couple of hundred visitors a day.
I got hooked on SEO/internet marketing and the rest is history.
Warning: Don't try the keyword-stuffed tag now btw... SEO was very different back then!
Often friends and family don't really 'get' this whole internet marketing thing or take it seriously, how do yours feel about it and how did they react when you first told them you were going to give it a try?
They still don't have a clue what I do really... in fact i wrote up a post about that!
Fortunately, one of my ventures (an eCommerce business) grew arms and legs and I and my business partner ended up owning (of all things) a hair salon which employed over 20 staff.
Between the offline and online sides of the business we were turning over a couple of million pounds a year, so it was easier to point at that and say 'see, that's why I spend so much time late at night drinking coffee and lurking on SEO forums'.
What was your first ever website or niche?
First website was my band's site, but commercially it would have been back in 2000 or so when I was working in IT for a highland dress company.
I built and launched their website and ranked it at the top of the search engines for everything kilt related (actually a pretty big niche btw!).
If you had to give one piece of advice to a newcomer in the internet marketing world, what would it be?
Steer clear of fake gurus who try to sell you point and click/copy and paste solutions that will 'make you money in your sleep'.
The only person making money will be them.
Successful internet marketing takes hard work!
What does it take to be a success in the internet marketing world in your opinion?
Hard work, patience, knowledge, and passion. Also, it pays to be nice. Help others and they will help you back.
When choosing a niche, follow passion, or money?
Follow passion, but make sure there is a way to monetize it.
In saying that, some of my most successful affiliate sites are in niches I knew absolutely nothing about before I started in them.
I'm a quick learner though :-)
One of the most common questions I receive from my audience is “How do I get started?”.
What would you advise them?
Well first off you need to choose a niche.
One that is not over-saturated and has an active, engaged audience.
This very site has some great ideas!
Once you have chosen a niche, reverse engineering works well.
Look into other successful sites in the niche and work out how they became so popular.
Things to look out for are:-
- Most linked to content (you can use top pages on open site explorer for that)
- Most shared content
- Content which has attracted a lot of comments
Also, find out where your audience hangs out (Facebook groups, forums, etc) and start networking - building your reputation and trust. Be subtle though, no one likes a spammer!
My tutorial on how I grew one of my own niche affiliate sites would be a useful reference as it details exactly how I chose a niche and grew a new affiliate site over a period of 6 months.
If you lost everything and had to start all over again with just a $100 budget, what would your plan of action be?
The beauty of the internet is that, as long as you are willing to put the work in, you can pretty much start a successful business with no budget.
The most important tool in internet marketing is your brain and we all get one of them for free.
What you do need to spend is your time.
Research your niche, formulate a clear plan (I work all my plans on a 6-month basis), and work out exactly what you want to achieve before you spend a penny on anything.
With regard to spending the $100 budget specifically, I would invest in some decent hosting. Nothing will drive away visitors more than a slow site (or worse still one that is down a lot).
I personally use Rackspace cloud hosting.
It's a little on the expensive side (I pay about $70 a month), but it's rock solid and worth every penny in my opinion.
What are you working on at the moment, what are your plans for the future and do you have anything new in the pipeline you'd like to share with us?
I'm currently working on some 'premium content' for Top 5 SEO, which will dig into some more advanced aspects of affiliate marketing and SEO.
I might run this as a course, or perhaps as a number of separately available ebooks (still to finalize), and expect to launch late Summer.
In the meantime, I'm kept busy with the blog, my own affiliate sites, and also undertake a fair bit of SEO consultancy work.
Away from internet marketing, I'm about two-thirds of the way through my first novel, gigging regularly with my band and will be releasing an album of solo stuff at some point later this year (you can preview it here).
Oh, and I still drink lots of coffee and lurk on SEO forums... ;-)
ESSENTIAL READING: White Hat Link Building: The Zen Masters Guide.
As always I'd love to hear your comments below and I'm sure David would too.
Feel free to ask any questions you have below...