Michael Ayalon Interview, PetWebDesigner.com founder – Nothing is Impossible!
Today we have a superb interview with Michael Ayalon
Michael Ayalon is the brains behind PetWebDesigner.com, a website design and SEO company that focuses on the pet niche. Michael is 34 and lives on Long Island in NY.
We asked Michael what motivates him and what inspires him? I think his answers say a lot about the man.
“Helping other people succeed motivates me. I enjoy acting as a mentor to other entrepreneurs, college students, and people looking to build successful businesses for themselves.”
“I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs that develop products and businesses that change the way we use the internet. Great examples are guys like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Chad Hurley of YouTube.”
Thanks for a great interview Michael – we appreciate your insights.
Enjoy the interview everyone – I look forward to your comments.
PS: Nothing is Impossible!
Michael Ayalon Interview
1) You are founder of PetWebDesigner.com,. Tell us a bit more about the site and how you got involved in this market?
Petwebdesigner started seven years ago. My mother in law had a litter of 13 Mastiff puppies, and she needed to find new homes for these dogs that grow to be well over 200 pounds. She knew that I enjoyed creating websites, and she asked if I could build a site with photos of her Mastiffs so she could show it to friends and family.
I built the website, and using some basic search engine optimization techniques, I was able to get her site to the top of Google for the term ‘Mastiff’. She ended up selling all 13 of her puppies within two weeks, and she begged me to help other people in the pet industry. When I created PetWebDesigner.com,, it quickly spread throughout the pet industry, and soon I had hundreds of pet sitters, veterinarians, dog trainers, and new pet products coming to me for website design and search engine optimization specifically for the pet industry. What started out as something I would do at night or on the weekends turned into a full time job, and I finally left the corporate world behind to do something I truly enjoyed. It also gave me the flexibility to work at any time of day, from anywhere in the world, and spend lots of time with my wife and two children.
2) PetWebDesigner.com, is a great example of a Web Design Business that specializes in a Niche — rather than being a webdesigner to lots of different business Niches. That is very smart! What advice could you give young entrepreneurs – on how to stand out in their own niche?
My advice would be to focus on a particular niche in whatever they do. The best comparison that I have would be to a doctor. If you are a general practitioner, you will earn some money, but there are so many of them – it becomes very difficult to differentiate yourself from all the others. However, if you were to become a brain surgeon, people will pay you significantly more money for your expertise.
Research different industries, look at some of your existing client base, and see what you can do to leverage your past experience and become a specialist in a certain area. Using references from previous customers and a niche that you are familiar with, you can become very successful.
3) Can you share some of the biggest lessons you have learned personally and as a business as
PetWebDesigner.com has grown? If you were to start again, what might you do differently?
As Petwebdesigner has grown, I’ve realized that you have to treat the customers right. Most of my business is from referrals, so I’ve learned that it is critical to continue working on a customer’s project until they are 100% satisfied. By going the extra mile, it separates you from the rest.
If I were to start again, I would hire more help sooner. As an entrepreneur, you sometimes feel that you can do everything. The reality is that you do everything in the beginning, but there reaches a point that you actually harm the business by taking on more than you can possible handle on your own. By finding good employees, you can make the business grow much faster than trying to do it all on your own.
4)I noticed that you have also invested / bought Pet Related domains – eg BuyPups.com — how important in your opinion is having a good domain name?
A good domain name is critical. Since I have been in the industry for so long, there were many domain names available that I felt would have value to a future customer. So, I purchased them many years ago and just kept them until the time was right. Sure enough, many customers see the domains that I have and come up with a business model just from the name alone! Having the keywords that you are targeting in your domain name makes search engine optimization a snap. I would much rather make a small investment in the right name up front, rather than spend thousands on Google Pay Per Click, years on SEO work, and other techniques just to get you to the top.
5) How important in your opinion is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) today and what are your Top SEO tips for people starting out with their first website?
Search Engine Optimization is critical for any business. It means the difference between a successful business and business that ultimately fails. SEO is a commitment, not something that is done once and you forget about it. I am always working on my own SEO, and the results speak for themselves. When you are positioned in the number one spot on Google for your prime keywords, you’ll never have to worry about how your customers will find you.
1. Try to avoid frames or flash on your website. Search engines can’t read photos, so keep lots of text on your page with your keywords spread throughout the page. The content is king!
2. Meta tags are becoming less important now, but it doesn’t hurt to have the right Title, Description, and Keywords listed in your Meta Tags.
3. Use Alt attributes on all your images, and be sure your keywords appear here as well.
4. Link building is so important. Stay away from link exchanges, they don’t work well anymore. Now you are interested in one way links from other websites in your niche pointing to your site, and they should have your keywords in the link text. Make sure to go after sites that have a high Google page rank, that will make it easier to get results. Think about other websites that you could get your link on, such as vendors, customers, affiliates, membership groups, and more.
5. Write articles! Google loves fresh content. Why not write about your expertise with a link at the end of the article pointing to your site? There are hundreds of sites just waiting for you to submit your own original articles. If you don’t have the time to write it, hire someone to write the article for you!
6. Take advantage of the online classified sites. This is a real easy way to get free exposure for your business, and some links to your site as well.
7. Start a blog. WordPress allows you to create blogs with great looking templates and even better plug ins. The possibilities are endless, and Google loves blogs with tons of fresh content. Your links can go all over the blog as well.
8. Put out a press release! There are services that will submit your press release with links to your site to the Associated Press, like prweb.com.
9. Go and answer other people’s questions with a link to your site. There are sites like answers.yahoo.com that will allow you to answer people’s questions, and then link to your own site in the answer to those questions. Take advantage of this opportunity to position yourself as an expert in the industry.
6) Does social networking play any role in your business? If so what?
Yes, social networking does play a large role in my business. I’m very devoted to Twitter right now, you can follow me @petwebdesigner to see what I’m up to. I basically tweet about pet related stories, pet videos, and other pet news. Other pet lovers read my links, forward it to their friends, and I get many new customers that way as well. I have almost 6,000 followers now, and it’s been really fun to talk to all the pet lovers out there. I also can give help to others in the pet industry if they have questions about marketing their business online.
7) Do you have any suggestions for coping with set-backs, negative experiences?
You have to learn from your negative experiences so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Luckily, I worked alongside some very successful CEOs over the last 12 years. I have learned from some of the mistakes they have made, and now I apply that to my own business. You should always have a mentor to talk to when you have a set back, they typically have experience with similar situations, and what has worked for them to help resolve the situation.
8 ) You have a really neat transparent video on your website. How is that working for you?
The transparent video that I have on my site has been a huge success. Everyone seems to notice it. I always felt that it would be helpful to have a host on the website, someone that introduced you to what you were about to see. It makes people feel comfortable, and to reassure them that they are in the right place. We were able to hire the actress, write the script, shoot the scene, and get it on the website within 1 week. It gets many “ooohs” and “aaahhhs”, so if that makes us stand out, then I’m all for it.
9) Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?
I admire my father for always working hard in life to achieve your goals. There is no doubt in my mind that I get my work ethic from him, and I wouldn’t be as driven without him. I also learned from other CEOs in my corporate career that taught me a great deal in how to run a business from the ground up, even when you didn’t have large funding to make it all happen. That was the training ground for creating my own company.
10) Do you have any favorite business related or web design related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
My favorite book of all time is “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to run out and pick it up today. It’s a great summary of what has happened over the last 25 years with regard to technology, the effects of outsourcing in the world, and it really gives you a different perspective on business. As far as I’m concerned, it’s required reading for every entrepreneur.
11) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“Nothing is impossible.” At the time, I didn’t believe him, but he was right. We all have the ability to become problem solvers, but sometimes we just get lazy and don’t apply ourselves. It’s important to become problem solvers in everything you do, you’ll be successful and earn a great living!
12) As someone who has achieved success so young, what advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur starting their first business today?
My advice would be to learn the fundamentals of business first. Either work for a small business or take business courses to understand how a business works. Balance sheet, income statement, and other key metrics are needed to measure your success. You can have a great business idea, but ultimately the business will fail if you don’t understand the fundamentals of business.
13) What do you like best about the Internet?
I love the power of the Internet. I love that anyone can create their own business on the Internet right from their home, and there is no need for costly overhead or big budgets to start a business online. It really gives anyone with a good idea the platform to make lots of money, and there is nothing better than that!
14) What do you like least about the Internet?
Viruses, spam, and people looking to pollute the Internet.
15) Any advice for how young entrepreneurs can bootstrap? (Not spending a ton to get something off the ground)?
Try to get favorable terms from vendors, and get payment in advance from customers. Talk to friends and family about your situation, and perhaps they can help you on an interim basis.