Update: Good news, everyone! The Rankings Institute is reopening to a limited number of new students for 10 days – from September 9th to September 19th 2014. You can click here to sign up for the webinar that will be held on the 9th.
Until then, Andrew will be giving away free techniques from the course! Click here to learn how Franc, one of my fellow RI members, increased his traffic from 100 to 1000 visitors per day – without spending any money!
Below you can find my in-depth review of the course, but Andrew told me that he and Alex have made improvements since the first round, so what you’ll get will be a bit different from what I wrote here. I will update the review as soon as I get access to the new version.
As a Forever Affiliate student, I was extremely excited when I heard about The Rankings Institute! It’s an 8 week coaching program by Andrew Hansen and Alex Miller, focusing on post-Panda and Penguin SEO techniques to increase rankings, traffic, and conversions.
What Kind Of Results Can We Get With The Rankings Institute?
To see the kind of results that can be obtained using the techniques Andrew and Alex teach in this program, I recommend watching this video. Here are some of the things Andrew covered in the webinar earlier this year, including some results he and Alex achieved with these methods:
- Why there is such a big opportunity for free traffic in Google right now
- The site that went 0 to $8,833.99 in 60 days
- The technique to use to rank each piece of content for 30-50 targeted keywords
- The site that pulled $3.5k from free traffic out of thin air within 2 weeks
- Why 90% of sites are making at least 1 of 5 crucial errors with their site structure that Google is using to hold back their traffic
- The site that added $100k new revenue in 8 weeks
- What it would take to add $50k/year to your business with free traffic
Andrew also recorded a short 4 minute video inside his Google Analytics and affiliate accounts for one of his test sites, so we could see proof of his stats and earnings, and another short video about Stacy, one of his students that made over $2500 in January 2014 using these techniques. I had linked to these videos before, but Andrew took them offline when TRI closed to new members.
What Qualifies These Guys To Teach SEO?
SEO is a difficult skill to master, and Google is becoming more and more strict. One wrong move could make your site disappear from the rankings completely, so I’m wary of following just anybody’s advice on this subject. Let’s take a look at what makes these guys qualified to teach us SEO.
Who Is Andrew Hansen?
Andrew is a 27 year old Super Affiliate who began working online 8 years ago. He started out as a poor student, living with his parents while trying to earn an income online. Like most of us, he bought expensive courses, got scammed by “gurus”, and after the first year had lost more money than he had made.
When things finally “clicked” for him, he built his business to 7 figures a year within 5 years. He also coached others to 5 figures a month using only free traffic methods.
Andrew has a great reputation in the internet marketing industry, and is known for producing high quality products. His latest course (before The Rankings Institute) was Forever Affiliate, which I bought and reviewed on this blog. I was so impressed with that course, and learnt so much from it, that I was very eager to find out what more I could learn from him.
Who Is Alex Miller?
For the Rankings Institute training program, Andrew is partnering with Alex Miller – an SEO expert and consultant to SEO agencies. That means he teaches professionals what they’re doing wrong – he’s basically the Sherlock Holmes of SEO
Alex has helped his clients generate literally millions of dollars from free search engine traffic in the last 3 years. He has also created and promoted more than 400 of his own websites in some of the most competitive markets in the world – like credit cards, weight loss, etc. – markets where the rest of us wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ranking.
Alex has also fixed hundreds of sites that were penalized by the Panda and Penguin updates, and in this coaching program he will teach us how to do the same – and most importantly what to do so that we don’t get penalized in the first place!
What Is Included In The Rankings Institute?
So what is included in this training program? There are no upsells, so everyone who joins will get everything listed below.
- An 8 week coaching program with almost 100 step-by-step training videos.
- Live weekly coaching calls: We’ll get 2-3 hours each week to show Andrew and Alex our sites, ask them questions, and get instant feedback. They’ll watch our progress and push us through each step so we can’t fail. It’s a small group so privacy is high.
- Direct access to Andrew and Alex via personal email (instead of just a support desk), where they will reply to us on ANY matter.
- High powered, fast acting link building package worth over $120 – FREE for each member.
- Access to Andrew and Alex’s personal outsource staff who can complete any part of the process we don’t want to do.
- An exclusive forum & Facebook group where we can meet other internet marketers and share ideas, insights, and tips
- Our own private “Inner Circle“: a small group of 10 people at the same level as us that we can join, so we can network, motivate each other, keep accountable and succeed together.
- Ongoing support until we’re earning $1000 new dollars per month from search traffic.
- Lifetime access to the center, member’s club, and community.
- 30 day money back guarantee
I think the coaching and community are really going to help me a lot – I never spring for coaching when it’s available, and then I tend to run out of steam partway through the courses I do. This time if I want to join I don’t have a choice, and for me it’s a good thing – direct access to Andrew and Alex will get me any help I need before any questions I have turn into obstacles that impede my progress, and the community will keep me motivated and focused on my goals.
Andrew kindly gave me early access to the first 3 modules of the Rankings Institute so that I could review them for you. However, that’s not going to affect what I write here – if you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know I don’t keep quiet if I find something I don’t like!
I’ve also reviewed the rest of the modules, which I got access to when I bought the course. I will also include differences between Forever Affiliate and The Rankings Institute, for those of you who – like me – already bought the previous course and are wondering if the new one is different enough to justify the purchase. Let’s begin!
Module 1 – Killer Keyword Research
Module 1 is the “Keyword/Profitability Audit”. The goal of this module is to identify the most profitable keyphrases in your market that you can feasibly rank for in Google. This module has 12 videos and is over 3.5 hours long.
Conversion Over Traffic
The first way this training differs from Forever Affiliate (FA from now on) is that it assumes you have already chosen a niche and jumps straight into finding related keywords.
The second way it differs is that the minimum amount of traffic necessary for each keyword is much less. This is because Alex focuses a lot on conversion. For example, in the webinar Andrew showed us a niche site that Alex set up with a high-ticket item that only gets about 3-5 visitors each day, but it made over $10,000 in a 3 month period thanks to the high conversions (and high price).
Hundreds of Keywords Your Competitors Don’t Know About
Alex shows us his method for finding keywords that you won’t normally find in Google Planner (or tools like Market Samurai that get their keywords form there). His method is actually kind of similar to how I do it, but he has one or two extra steps that give him hundreds more keywords than I’ve been getting!
This method can be done with either free or paid tools – for this part you really don’t need the paid software because the free method is just as quick.
Alex says the free method is slower because you need to select all the keywords manually, and if that were true it would indeed take days or weeks (and maybe give you carpal tunnel syndrome in the process) but luckily there’s a “select all keywords” button. Unfortunately it’s kind of camouflaged and only appears after the search, which is probably why Alex didn’t see it. I let him know, so it’s possible the video will be updated before launch.
Hidden Keywords You Wouldn’t Have Thought Of
There is also a video for learning how to get hidden keywords from your competitors. This method uses a paid tool that is a bit expensive if you’re on a small budget, but you can sign up for a free 2 week trial (I posted the link in the member’s forum) – even if you’re working on multiple sites at once I don’t think you’ll need it for more than a day.
In the video Alex used this method to find keywords that I would never have thought of – which could then be used with the previous keyword research methods to get even more related terms from those keywords. Don’t skip this step or you might miss out on some great opportunities!
The Cream of the Crop
Using these techniques, you end up with a ton of keywords, so Alex teaches us how to narrow down our list by finding the best terms, and identifying which ones we have a chance of ranking for.
The assessment of the competition level is similar to the FA method, and can be done with a free tool or with paid software. But even though I usually prefer using free methods as much as possible, the Rankings Institute keyword research method generates hundreds more keywords than the FA method, so in my opinion the paid software is the only way to go this time.
If you choose the free method you have to manually check 10 sites for each of your hundreds of keywords – each site will have multiple factors to evaluate, and then you have to make a final decision for each keyword, taking all those factors for all 10 sites into account. This would take weeks or even months. I definitely don’t have the time or the patience for that, especially not when the paid software will do all that work for me in about 30 minutes!
At first you won’t need to buy the software though – instead you can get a 3-day trial for $7, and that should be more than enough time to do the keyword research for a whole bunch of sites.
Divide and Conquer
Even after you have narrowed down your list to include only the best keywords, there will still be a lot of them. So next Alex teaches us how to group and target them, so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer number of keywords to go after.
In the last video we learn how to write effective, compelling articles that target a whole group of terms, so that each piece of content can rank for 30-50 keywords! The video also includes examples of good and bad articles, which is very helpful.
Module 2 – Creating Sites That Google Loves
Module 2 has 11 videos and is over 3 hours long – it covers on-site SEO which you can apply to new sites as well as existing sites.
There’s a lot of technical stuff, but Alex shows us how to do everything step-by-step in the videos. He has fixed 200-300+ sites penalized by Panda and helped them rank at the top of the SERPS again, so he really knows his stuff.
The goal of this module is to optimize your site so that it’s clean, efficient, and free of errors. Having only high quality pages in Google’s index will minimize Panda penalties, which will also increase rankings and boost the power of any links pointing to your sites.
Alex says 99% of our competitors will not be applying these techniques, and that even the biggest agencies are not doing this correctly. And we only need free tools to do it!
As I was going through this module, I used the techniques I was learning on this blog – and discovered I actually have a lot of low quality pages indexed in Google! This was a bit shocking, because all my content is original and I didn’t know I actually had any low quality pages on this site. But a lot of these pages are automatically generated by WordPress, so even if all your posts are original you might still have a low quality score.
Fixing these errors can have a huge impact on your traffic – Franc, the Rankings Institute member I mentioned earlier, increased his traffic to over 1000 visitors per day (that’s a 10x increase!) just by implementing what he learned in this module.
I also used these techniques on one of my websites that disappeared from the rankings awhile ago, and found out that Google thinks it’s a scraper site, even though it was all original content! No wonder traffic to that site dropped to almost zero!
Alex shows us 2 ways to fix these problems – one is quick and easy, and the other will take time (or money if you outsource it). But it will save you time and money in the long run, because you won’t be building links to a site that can’t benefit from them because of Panda penalties you didn’t even know you had!
Module 3 – Turning Your Site Into A Conversion Monster
Module 3 has 8 videos that are about 1hour 45mins long in total, and teaches what modifications to make on our sites to increase our conversions, and how to get visitors to buy more from our sites.
In the first video Alex shows us a free tool we can use to identify certain problems on our websites that can indirectly affect our conversions. I would have liked if he had also showed us how to fix those problems, but he says he just gives the list to his developers.
That’s not very helpful for those of us who don’t have developers, but it’s probably safer that way. We can find out how to fix some of these things with a simple Google search, but others sound more complicated and I’d be worried about messing something up if I tried to fix them on my own.
The course does include access to outsource staff, so I’ll probably give the more difficult things to them to fix.
The next technique Alex teaches us is easy and quick, and uses a free plugin. I’m actually already using this plugin on some of my sites, though I installed it for a completely different reason. Good to know that using it also increases my quality score, and could save me a loss of earnings thanks to the automatic warning it will send me if this happens again in the future! From now on I’ll be installing it on all my sites.
The third technique is something I’m already doing on all my sites, but if you’re not you should definitely start immediately. I’m using a different plugin for this, but I think I’ll switch over to the one Alex uses here.
Next is something I’ve known I was supposed to do for a long time, but I’m lazy and don’t do it very often. And it turns out then even when I did do it, I’ve been doing it wrong! There’s also a very good tip in this video that I’ve never come across before.
The last video in this module contains 6 crucial conversion techniques. I’m doing one or two of them already, but I need to start doing the others ASAP. In this video Alex actually revealed 2 of his old sites to show us examples of how to increase conversions.
Module 4 – Fast Traffic Techniques
Module 4 contains 16 videos, with a total play time of almost 3 hours.
This module is all about getting traffic fast, and diversifying your traffic sources so that your eggs aren’t all in one basket. This is critical to short-term and long-term SEO success, and helps ensure that when the search engines change their algorithms, your earnings will be affected as little as possible.
One of the main goals of this module is to teach us how to rank multiple times on the first page of the SERPs for our keywords. I love this concept – imagine how much more traffic you could get if you weren’t only ranking at position #1, but also positions 2, 3, 4, and 5!
In Module 4 Alex also reveals the web 2.0 sites most people don’t know about, that can rank in days. This means that we could start sending targeted visitors to our offers in under a week!
Alex takes us step-by-step through setting up accounts and pages at the top 3 web 2.0 sites that he recommends, and gives some really useful strategies on video marketing and turning viewers into buyers.
That was the first half of this module. The second half is spent showing us how to do all backlinking and promotion for these sites from one convenient location.
Now, Alex actually co-owns the service he recommends here, so my first thought was that this was just self-promotion. However, as he walked us through it, I realized that using this service really would make things a lot easier for me.
I usually skip most of the backlinking process on my websites – which I know is bad, and the reason why a lot of them haven’t taken off yet – because I just get so overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and I haven’t got the time, energy, or inclination to do it all. So I think using a service like this – where everything is done for me with a guarantee of high quality, and I can just order whatever I need from one dashboard – would take a huge load off my shoulders and give my websites that are struggling the boost they need.
However, this is actually a service meant for SEO agencies, and as such it has some spending requirements that you have to meet to stay a member (though the initial deposit is halved for Rankings Institute members). I know that to have real success online, you have to invest in your business just like in an offline business. But not all of us will be able to afford these prices straight away, and luckily Alex realizes this. If you can’t afford it yet, or if you don’t want to use the service for some other reason, Alex does give us an alternative option with cheaper prices.
For those of us who can’t afford to pay anything for backlinking yet, there is a free method shown in the next module. You can also check inside the Rankings Institute forum – I’ve seen some really great free or cheap backlinking methods posted there by other members.
Module 5 – New School, High Powered Link Building
Module 5 contains 15 videos and is about 2hrs 40mins long. This module is a blueprint on how to get maximum results from backlinking in the first month, with different options depending on our budget and the companies we want to use.
We learn how to start a proper link building campaign with high quality links that Google loves, and how to get private high powered backlinks that most people will never have access to. Alex gives us a step-by-step plan to make our websites rank for lots of keywords, and get traffic with very little work on our part and a small number of backlinks.
This module was a real eye-opener for me. No wonder it’s so difficult to rank with just manual backlinking, if this type of thing is what the pros are doing! Trying to do all this myself would be impossible, or at least so slow and labour intensive that I would give up before I even got half way. And Alex made a point in the second video about anchor text that I’d like to frame and hang somewhere I can see it every day!
The strategy taught in Module 5 involves outsourcing, and the top recommended plan is definitely not cheap, but there are multiple options depending on your budget. Obviously the more you invest in your campaign, the quicker you’ll get results, but I’m glad Alex gave us options for all budgets. He says even if we can’t afford the minimum recommendation, it’s ok. We’ll make progress a little slower than others, but we’re still making enough progress to start gaining some traction, getting some traffic, and converting some of that traffic into sales. And as we earn commissions, we can then reinvest and scale up as we start earning more.
There is even a bonus video for people who can’t afford to spend any money at all on backlinking right now. This video is actually from Forever Affiliate, and it’s a video I really like. The basic method it’s based on is nothing new, but Andrew has tweaked it so that the links we get are naturally boosted without any further work from us – and the links are white hat, high quality, and low risk! And by building these links we’re paving the way for different, stronger links in the future too. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the video
Module 6 – Analysis & Ongoing Hands Off Link Building
Module 6 has 12 videos and is 2hrs 20mins long. This section is about ongoing link building, promotion and analysis.
We’ll learn how to analyze our first month’s backlinking results, and how to find out what keywords we’re ranking for now that our most important keyword data is hidden from us in Google Analytics. We will then proceed with link building based only on where profit is coming from, so we don’t waste time and money investing in the wrong things.
Alex gives us an action plan on what to do if our sites are ranking well after the first month, and what to do if they aren’t. I love that in The Rankings Institute we get an exact plan to follow, based on data we collect about our sites each month. A lot of other courses just leave you to muddle through it on your own, without showing you how to analyze your sites so that you can make the right decisions on how to do your promotions for best results.
Next we learn how to build 3 kinds of “super links” that our competitors won’t even bother with – these will take some work, but Alex says they make such a huge difference that they’re definitely worth the effort. Parts of these methods can be outsourced cheaply if you don’t want to do them yourself.
Module 7 – Live Coaching Webinars
Module 7 of RI is very different from the previous modules. It consists of 3 webinars, in which Alex and Andrew go over any stumbling blocks that the students may have gotten stuck on in the previous modules.
The content of each webinar was tailored around what the students said they were having problems with, and then each webinar ended with an open Q&A session so Andrew and Alex could answer specific questions.
The webinars were each between 2 and 3 hours long, with a total time of about 7hrs 20mins – this allowed them to go more in-depth with their explanations and examples, and many students said these were the best webinars yet.
Module 8 – Ninja Module
Module 8 is the Ninja Module! We’re not really supposed to talk about this module, so I’m going to have to be a bit vague
This is the last module, and it covers some advanced techniques as well as some topics that the students had asked for specifically.
In this section we learn how to keep our sites monitored, how to analyze them and boost results, and how to increase conversions.
We’ll also learn to understand the causes of different types of traffic drops and ranking drops, and when and how it’s possible to recover from them. I think a lot of people have been waiting for this part!
And lastly, there’s a ninja technique to improve rankings! It’s not for everyone though – I definitely can’t do this yet, but it was still really cool to learn how it’s done, and it would be interesting to try it in the future.
Conclusion and Cost
So, the big question: should you buy The Rankings Institute course? It depends. If you have no budget and are looking for a course that will get your site ranking #1 without spending anything, then I would not recommend this course for you yet.
TRI treats affiliate marketing like a business, not a hobby. Some students have seen results even without using the backlinking techniques, but to get the best out of the program you have to be willing to invest in your websites.
The bigger your budget, the faster you will see results – but TRI includes methods for smaller budgets too, so you can start there and reinvest as you earn more and more.
I am at the point where I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can by doing everything myself and using only free or very cheap methods, and I’m ready to take the plunge and invest in my websites so that I can increase my profits enough to do this full-time.
So, how much does The Rankings Institute cost? The price is a one-time payment of $997, or 4 monthly payments of $297. If that is a bit out of your budget, there is also the option of 13 monthly payments of $97 – but note that the longer your payment plan, the more you pay in the end. I chose the one-time payment since it’s over $260 cheaper than the monthly option!
It’s more than I’ve ever paid for a course before, and at first I wasn’t sure if I would join. But I took the leap and invested in it because SEO and backlinking are skills I really need to improve, and I trust Andrew to release top quality training.
I also liked the idea of getting coaching from both Alex Miller and Andrew Hansen, who are experts in their fields, and I loved that I would get ongoing support until I’m earning $1,000 per month more than I was before I joined the coaching program. And the 30 day guarantee certainly didn’t hurt either!
If you also think this training program is just what you need, then go ahead and join below – I look forward to seeing you on the inside!