This was just around the time that Google updated its algorithm to catch spammy, low-quality, over-optimized websites, and the vast, vast majority of the sites in these two networks got hit, along with a lot of their clients. I’m not entirely sure of the state of their networks these days, as Dori outlined some sweeping new changes to the networks (strict categorization of content, social media involvement, and so on), but when I was still using them on a limited scale, the changes had not yet taken affect.
But this is our experiences using these sites on a moderate basis, for an extended period of time. My new comments are highlighted throughout the text below.
I’m almost at the point of being done with them, just looking around for replacements. [We never found a replacement, just updated our entire internet marketing strategy.] A few complaints about the SEONitro and Elite SEOLinkVine networks:
Seems like no matter how I try to Apply or Re-Apply to sites for login/passwords, I can never log into about half of the sites.
About 40-60% of the sites were down at any given time anyway. Email them and ask why? “Migrating server,” which has been the same answer for at least the last 8 months without the sites coming back live.
You get 10 blogroll links per month with your membership. Problem is, 70% of the blogroll links I tried to add never appeared on the websites. Email them asking why? They said they’d fix it, but didn’t fix a single one that I can tell (and now most of the sites were removed from the networks anyway). Out of 140 blogroll links I added throughout a year, 99 of them didn’t show up on the sites or the sites were down/gone. [What a joke, right? Contextual blogroll links were one of the main selling points of the program, and they never worked consistently. It was one of the one or two main things that the back-end system was supposed to handle, and I added the links religiously to sites that matched the content of our clients’ companies.] And I made absolutely sure at the time I submitted the blogroll link that the site I was submitting to was up and not loaded with dozens of already-existing links.
They just (this past week) went from about 2,500 sites on Elite SEOLV and SEONitro to 686 total. I’m trying to update my list, but it seems like at least half of these 686 sites are currently unavailable (browser never loads the site, although I can access any other site on the web I try that is outside of their network). [So, we were paying close to $1,000 per month for less than 700 websites to post to, and most of those sites were dead/unavailable anyway. Basically $1,000 a month for a hosting service where anyone else could post their content to the sites, where quality was not a consideration.]
The automated networks are completely separate, but everyone who subscribes to the automated networks gets access to the same manual submission network. With 8 automated networks (on SEOLV), this means there are ~400 people able to submit to the same manual network. The odds your post stays on the home page of any given site so that Google can crawl it is extremely small. [And the odds that each of the 400 members are posting for multiple clients to multiple websites for the greatest potential reach on the largest number of domains/IPs is extremely high. This is exactly what we observed happening on the networks over time, and reduced our own involvement accordingly as we became worried.]
Even when I check the daily posting done through the automated network (reports are provided by the services), a fair number (25%) of the sites seem to be down! What? Why does the software report the post as being submitted to a site that is clearly down? And give me a permalink to a post that obviously doesn’t exist? [Another funny aspect of the networks were permalinks to posts that never existed. Try including that in a report to a client.]
On the positive side, they have always emailed me back quickly when I have a concern. I know other people have complained about it, but my experience has been good. [Thinking back on it, they did respond in a timely fashion, but almost always blamed any problem on server migrations, which seemed to be going on all the time, were never finished, and were a convenient excuse for the networks not to take the blame for their sites being down — when in doubt, blame the hosting company for server issues!]
To sum up:
+ Good customer service
+ Automated networks provide daily posting reports [Ironically enough, the networks took away this functionality very soon after I made the post. So this + doesn’t even apply to the networks in the form I last saw them in.]
– Half the sites are always down
– Half of the remaining sites you won’t be able to log into
– 70% of your blogroll links will never appear
– The time your post/links appear on a home page is extremely small
So I don’t know. Some of these seem like such simple issues. If a site is down for 3 months, take it out of the list. Make sure the apply/re-apply links work to get logins, or if the site is not allowing anymore logins, take it out of the list. Make sure the blogroll function works, or only put sites that still allow blogroll links in the list and take the rest out. But, over a year, all of these have remained as ongoing issues. [This was the most frustrating aspect. Mistakes are OK, problems are there to be solved. But they never seemed to get solved on SEONitro or SEO Linkvine Elite. They just kept compounding in terms of website availability, content quality, and functionality.]
If they open the networks again, and you’re reading the sales page and considering buying, take my advice:
1. Multiply the size of the network by .25 to get the percent that is actually working at any given time.
2. Multiply the monthly blogroll links by .25 to get the percent that will actually appear.
If they would fix these issues, I’d have no problem with the networks. De-indexing isn’t their fault. Having tons of sites routinely/permanently down, more sites that you can never log into, and non-working functions like blogroll links is their fault.
So do I still support everything said in this review? Absolutely, yes. Again, I don’t hold Brad Callen or Dori Friend responsible for the deindexing of large parts of their networks, or how it happened (supposedly Google made an account to infiltrate and take down the networks). But leaving hundreds of broken sites in the networks and never getting some functions to work was simply unacceptable and a poor business practice.
Perhaps forgivable, but still destructive of the trust I once had for these two SEO experts. I used to purchase almost everything by either Brad or Dori, but had to give up on the poor quality of their offerings and unsubscribe to email notifications and newsletters, and look elsewhere for online marketing tools and knowledge.
[There’s also a “normal” version of SEO LinkVine that is quite a bit safe than the Elite blog network, which you can pick up a copy of it on this page. It’s a blog/article content distribution service, so be careful with it if you use it for linking to your main website. But if you need content for a new site and don’t mind sifting through some poorly spun articles, you can use this service to receive fresh content on a regular basis, or publish your content for a wider distribution.]