Interview with Tony McCreath of Website Advantage

Tony McCreath of Website Advantage was nice enough to let me interview him in December last year. He gave very informative answers about internet marketing, especially search engine optimisation. You can find the interview below, Tony's answers are in italics.

What is internet marketing?

It can mean different things to different people:
  • Internet Marketeers: These people have a purely online business and making money through affiliations, advertising and selling virtual products, such as eBooks. In my opinion, quite a seedy world full of people wanting to make a quick buck, and normally from conning the newbies out of their cash.
  • I work with brick and mortar businesses. For them, internet marketing is the process of promoting their business on the web. Normally to increase profits, branding and reputation.
What is an internet marketing plan, what are the key parts and how should it be used?

The most important thing is that the client has realised that a plan is needed. Unfortunately clients
often spent a lot on development work, before they think about why they are going online, and what they should do to best reach their goals.

Having goals is a key part of a plan, and it’s best to define your goals in a measurable way. “10 new customers per month”, “$1,000 of sales per month”. Once you know the goals then you can start planning to achieve them. Attracting qualified visitors is often a requirement, and directing them towards your goals is another. These are often activities that get forgotten in the rush to create a “cool” website. The plan is there to keep you and your client working towards your real targets.

I feel that doing keyword based market analysis at the start is extremely important. Understanding how to target your largest market areas is the first step to attracting many qualified

How important is it to have a website optimised for mobile/smart phones? Is it important for all businesses?

I don’t think it is important unless your business has a specific relation with mobile phone users.

What are 5 simple things anybody can do to improve the internet marketing of their small business?
  • Page Titles for SEO
  • Submit your website to local directories (HotFrog, TrueLocal, StartLocal….)
  • Create a Google Places entry for your business
  • Register with Google Webmaster Tools and see if your website has a problem
  • Add content, then add more content
In your experience which aspects of internet marketing get the best ROI?

Getting your page title right is little work for big gains.
How should flash be used in website design?

On someone else’s website ;-)

Use Flash for parts of your page that you don’t want to be indexed by search engines. Ignore those people saying Google can index Flash. It’s true, but very limited. The people saying this sort of thing are Flash developers that are running out of work!

Most things people do in Flash can now be done via JavaScript and the concept of progressive enhancement. This ensures that users with limitations (such as search engine spiders) can still access and use the website, while those with kick-ass systems get a cool experience. HTML5 may also be a flash killer, if we ever see it!

If you a
re stuck with using a Flash or AJAX only website, there are advanced ways to improve their indexing. I did an AJAX Experiment a while back that worked with Google.

Compare DIY/in house internet marketing to outsourced internet marketing. What are the likely differences in returns?

Many of my clients have done some research and tried it on their own before coming to me.
Some have followed the marketeering path and spent a lot of money to get very poor advice that does not help real businesses. Some have got into AdWords and done fatal mistakes that decim
ated their chances of getting any return on investment. Some have actually done some things right. A recent client was already targeting their best market based on basic SEO knowledge and good guesses to where the market is.

The problem is that there are many snake oil salesmen or novices in our business. If you go it alone you risk learning outdated or even detrimental techniques. At the same time, how do you know that the guy you hire is good at what they do, or is just going to take your money and run!
I think this is why almost all my clients are locals who can talk to me and see me in person. It’s the only way to create a reasonable level of trust.

is the first thing you do when you bring on a new client?

Look at their website….cringe! What’s funny though is I don’t look at how pretty it is. I look at its potential to do well with Search Engines and how it sells itself to its visitors. Often fancy effects are a negative on both points! I try and get my clients to fill in a simple questionnaire. You’d be surprised how hard it is to get basic business information, let alone clues about a clients target market and business policy.

For me, the most important thing to do is keyword based market research so I understand where the true market is. I love it when this research reveals a new market/product for my client!
If they have a website I then analyse it and provide a report on what we need to do so that it does its best with search engines and visitors.

Do you do any original research? If so... Do you publish the findings anywhere? How do you use the findings to better your products and services?

Writing my own data analyse tools means I keep finding new avenues for further research.
One off-shoot from this is my Adelaide Top 100 Website Businesses that was very popular, so I followed it up with an Australian version.

This m
onth I developed a tool to find out which categories a business should add into their HotFrog listings to get the most exposure in their market. I also follow a lot of the technologies that are about to emerge, and that has resulted in a few experiments in my SEO Sandbox. Currently I am playing with semantic mark-up (RDFa, Microformats).

Which internet marketing publications/ newsletters/ other sources do you subscribe to and/or recommend?

! I follow over 100 blogs and forums via RSS as well as many recognised experts on Twitter. I’ll highlight some of the ones I think will be helpful for small businesses:
  • Flying Solo- Great for general advice related to Australian small businesses, and has some good internet marketing experts around.
  • The V7 Network- Currently my favourite SEO forum. Helps both beginner and expert.
  • Experts Exchange- Paid resource but can be quick with answers (I’m an Expert there)
  • The Startup Club- I've found this a great place to Network outside the internet.

Tony McCreath is the Director and Owner of Website Advantage, a Search Engine Optimisation, Website Promotion & Internet Marketing Company in Adelaide, South Australia. You can find his contact details here.

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1 Response to Interview with Tony McCreath of Website Advantage

  1. Luke says:

    Nice article guys, lots of valuable content there for businesses!

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