New Year's Resolutions for 2008

Improve SEO Book - the ebook format and sending updates via email have a lot of friction associated with them. Perhaps so much so that I should have realized it and changed my business model years ago. A partial list of that friction includes

  • shipping questions (for an ebook)
  • a text that takes a while to read
  • a format that presumes you want to read the whole thing
  • a text too large for most people to want to re-read the whole thing when it is updated
  • requests for special addendums when updates are done, which would make the whole book structure quite pointless
  • a text so large that it is hard to update
  • refund requests within 3 minutes of purchases by people who bought it with intent to steal it
  • people trying to sell it on eBay or on their websites
  • a lowered perception of value due to using a format that is often associated with scams

There are many ways I can add value to SEO Book and enhance value transfer to customers if I turn the purchase process into establishing a relationship. There needs to be more backend support for learning. With internet marketing getting more complex I need to make learning easier, more granular, and more interactive.

Treat SEO Book more like a business - I sorta stumbled into SEO, and honestly have not treated this site like a business like I should have. Over the years some of my mentors have given me many great tips that I was too lazy or scared to listen to at the time. After seeing one of my favorite SEO sites go offline it makes me want to treat this site more like a business so I can still focus attention on it for years to come, even while some of my other projects have grown to be more profitable.

Make my other sites more like SEO Book - I have some other sites that do pretty well without adding much value to the web. At some level I feel there is a moral obligation to start adding value to markets as you extract profits. Plus, if relevancy algorithms moved away from links and domain trust many of those domains (as they sit today) would be screwed. I want to create more product and service oriented websites and be less reliant on advertising and affiliate based income streams.

Try to get at least 2 weeks away from the web - this will be mid year sometime with my wife, in a one month European honeymoon.

Read more away from the web - I always learn a lot from reading books, and I doubt I would miss much if I cut how much time I spent reading recycled online content.

Start working out more again - after losing a bunch of weight I gained it back due to stress from doing way too much stuff. I have eased up my work load and am chipping away at it.

Spend more time with my wife - given that we both work on the web we spend lots of time near each other, but far too much time working and not enough time playing.

Set a better examplewhat competitors do I want to put a lot more effort into creating things worth copying.

Published: January 1, 2008

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Comments

January 1, 2008 - 6:38am

Happy new year. =)

Best of luck on the resolutions.

January 1, 2008 - 7:15am

Hey Aaron,
I've always wondered, why do you do SEOBook (not that I don't appreciate it)? You must spend a good deal of time on this blog and updates to your book, and from what you say about your other sites you seem to be getting a much lower return on your time on this site than others you create. Why not stop updating it and just coast on SE traffic and affiliate sales? Is it part of you desire to create value like you mentioned? I like to create value too, but I want to get paid for it.

January 1, 2008 - 10:34pm

Hi James
Much of it is a sentimental thing, and I want to keep increasing the value of it since I already put so much effort into building the site and brand, plus this is a quite stable income stream. Outside of personally damaging my own brand it would be hard for someone to harm this income stream.

January 1, 2008 - 1:25pm

.... no money back guarantee?

I would do that now as any "this is crap" argument would surely be subjective given your high regard in the SEO world Aaron. Just a thought.

BTW - How DO I get the updated version????

Happy New Year to you and the Missus :)

David

www.needagoodrank.com ;)

January 1, 2008 - 10:38pm

Hi David
I think offering refunds makes you far more sales than it costs you in returns. I think the big issue is that the current format makes it exceptionally easy to ask for a refund and still use the product even after you get your money back.

As an example, a few weeks ago a person requested a refund, telling me they accidentally bought my book while looking for a book on PPC. They subscribed to updates too, and I asked them if that was accidental too.

You can subscribe to updates from the page you download SEO Book on. If you did not subscribe when you purchased it you can email me at seobook@gmail.com

January 1, 2008 - 2:18pm

How about using Google Doc's or some other online system for keeping up with the edits.

Anytime you make a revision it is there. The document would always be up to date.

The use of bookmarks would be helpful for finding things.

I am not sure if Google Doc's is the best or not.

There are other online editors that have some more features.

Just a thought...

January 1, 2008 - 10:35pm

Hi mgalbus
I generally do not trust putting for sale products on Google's servers. Given how they hand edit search results, and claw away at marketers from so many different angles, I think it would be unwise to put your product on Google.

January 1, 2008 - 5:32pm

Hey Aaron,

I don't have much experience with this, but have you considered using a password protected RSS feed to distribute new updates?

In addition to sending your big updated PDF file every few months, you would send the smaller updates piece-meal through the RSS file.

-Joshua

January 1, 2008 - 10:23pm

Hi Joshua
The problem with using RSS updates like that is that it doesn't add a lot of value to the experience. I think the key is more interactivity and a variety of rich formats - videos, customer interaction, etc.

January 1, 2008 - 5:33pm

Happy New Year my friend.

January 1, 2008 - 5:53pm

Hi Aaron,

Happy New Year! I think you're definitely on the right track when it comes to enhancing value for your site.

I'd be VERY interested in talking to you if you're thinking about changing the format regarding how you approach knowledge transfer. I'd like to discuss doing a complete video series on SEO, basically taking the information in your book, adding to it, showing full examples on how to implement, etc, and translating it into a training series; similar to the free training you did. Creating a video series would allow you to update smaller pieces without disrupting the flow of the bigger series, and also allow you to add additional training pretty-much on the fly.

I can send you some copies of our training material on CD so you can get a better feel for the marketing/packaging. Our format makes it very easy to create the content, and the best part is that we'd handle the editing, packaging, much of the marketing, order fulfillment, etc., and free you up to do what you do best, without stressing over the more mundane side of the business.

If you're interested in discussing, please feel free to drop me a line (you can contact me directly via the e-mail on my seobook.com account).

Christopher Rees
President,
Palaestra Training
www.palaestratraining.com
1-800-324-0946

January 1, 2008 - 10:32pm

Hi Christopher
I would love to learn a lot more about creating video stuff, but if I use it heavily I would still want to maintain copyright and sell it from my own site rather than as part of a third party site.

January 1, 2008 - 11:37pm

We'd still be interested in discussing, perhaps co-marketing. No issues with you owning copyright, after all it's your content and your experience/knowledge.

If interested, drop us a line, if not I totally understand and best of luck with it. If we could help in any way, don't hesitate to ask.

Regards,

Christopher Rees
Palaestra Training
IT Certification and Training Videos
1-800-324-0946

January 1, 2008 - 8:35pm

Hey Aaron,

I think rewarding your customers that do actually buy the book (vs. trying to steal it) would be a great way to go.

Even if it meant raising your pricing to accommodate it, a closed buyers-only user forum would be awesome. Personally, I would pay for an ongoing monthly subscription to such a forum if I knew that you were moderating it and available, and the other users are people who have actually recognized the value of being there and put up some cash to participate. Updated content for the book could simply be posted in threads on the private forum.

Obviously the audience is there judging by the number of questions and discussion that you get when you do a Q&A post...

The whole piracy-risk thing makes me think of the record industry where smart independents try to beat privacy with exclusive fan-related value adds. Personal attention is the one thing you can't easily pirate...

January 1, 2008 - 10:22pm

Hi Geordie
Your thoughts in that comment are well aligned with mine. And that is a direction I am sorta looking to go in.

January 1, 2008 - 10:07pm

I appreciate your efforts to keep producing quality. Perhaps changes could be temporarily *noted* with an asterix when the book is updated. You could link to the newest information and eventually roll the update (unmarked) into the next version.

Why not solicit this community to help point out possible contradictions when you note new changes? Community participation helps us all.

It's a tough model to update but you do a great job. Thanks for all your effort.

Happy 2008!

January 1, 2008 - 10:21pm

I think the biggest issue is that the format of a book is presumptuous. Like there are individual ideas in my book that I have made $10,000's from. But they get lost in the sea of information if they are part of a book.

Warren Buffet said that he would probably retire if he needed to get investment advice from others because many of the best investment ideas are lost in group think. I am open to feedback and improving, but I don't see feedback on changes and asterisks as being an adequate solution to addressing the growing complexity of online marketing.

January 5, 2008 - 12:09pm

touche. That actually would be a bit of a nightmare (group think). And after I thought about it, would probably be a lot more time consuming.

I do agree that you casually mention some whopper ideas in the book that are diamonds in the rough. That just made me pay closer attention and make notes.

Someone else mentioned breaking apart themes and that sounded smart. Some elements like "accessibility" (organization of content, url structure, JS navigation,etc.) would be less changing over time than say, Social Media influences, link building strategies and other pieces of the puzzle.

January 2, 2008 - 12:01am

Cutting back on reading stuff online is probably my main resolution for the new year..it was great reading tons of blogs and almost every forum post on SEO forums in the beginning..but it takes so much time out of the week and after a while you don't read enough new insights to justify the time spent reading (I can only imagine how much more that must be true for you than it is for me).

If you go to Paris, make sure you don't miss the tour montparnasse (the other big tower other than the eiffel tower). Great view of the city and usually no standing in line.

Nelson Minica
January 2, 2008 - 12:03am

Hey Aaron,

Your #7 is my #1. If course right now during day one of the launch my wife is about to strangle me. :)

I made a list of my resolutions and turned it into a sale at resolutionsale.com, my first sale ever! So far the sale is going somewhat slow, probably due to the holidays, but the sale is converting at 3% and the OTO is converting at 85% so I can only hope that will keep up!

Happy New Year, blessings to all!

Nelson Minica

January 2, 2008 - 4:38am

You could break up the book into a series or 2 or 3 books. Let someone read and return the 1st in the series (intro to SEO), but don't allow for the delivery of the next book. Let people opt out of only reading the first if they wave their right to a full refund. I doubt anyone who isn't scamming you for a free book would return it, so I think you get next to zero returns if you broke them up into a series. Or you could just sell 2+ book separately to everyone and if someone buys all then they could get the updates included in the package.

You have a lot of chapters. Maybe they could be broken up into 5 or more sections. Part of that to be broken into a series of books.

Summaries or key points for each section. A lot of text books have something like this.

Updates could either be highlighted or next in series book. I haven't read your updated book, so I don't know what you did with the updated info.

I don't think your site seems scammy at all. You blog has plenty of free info and your book isn't that expensive for up to date specialized info.

January 2, 2008 - 5:15am

Thanks Debster. :)

January 2, 2008 - 1:56pm

Hey Aaron
If you make it via Paris when in Europe, drop me a line and I can show you a couple of the lesser-known sites and must-eat-at restaurants known only to the Parisians.

January 2, 2008 - 7:01pm

I will try to remember to ping you. Thanks for the offer. :)

January 2, 2008 - 5:22pm

Have you thought about generating the book with the customer's name and email address in the footer of each page? That would help reduce the likelihood of someone distributing the book, especially if you required a non-free email address to purchase.

Perhaps you're doing this already - I've not bought SEO Book yet so I don't know (though I do mean to get around to it :)

January 2, 2008 - 7:02pm

I think that might work to some extent, but the biggest issue I think is that it needs to become more interactive to enhance knowledge transfer.

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