If you’ve ever delved into the world of niche websites, you may have come across a blog called Niche Pursuits, written by Spencer Haws. You may have also heard of Hayden Miyamoto, another niche website builder who was one of the first to buy expired domains to create his own private content, or blog, network. The expired domains, with good page ranks and clean backlink profiles, were used by both to create backlinks for their money sites. This way, they owned all of his own links and was able to quickly rank his money sites. Pretty brilliant, n’est ce pas? It’s so brilliant, that a lot of others do the same thing (until Google later placed a penalty on sites for doing this.)
In 2013, Spencer and Hayden formed a website together, called Rank Hero. Website owners can buy a package with as little as five links for $197. As an experiment for a different site, I chose to get the five link package and put Rank Hero to the test.
How It Works
If you are reading this, I can assume you already know how Rank Hero works, but I’m going to give a brief synopsis anyway. Once you’ve purchased a package, you’ll get ‘credits’ in your account, so if you don’t use all in one month, you can just bank them and use them in a subsequent month. You’ll be assigned to a network of 25 sites; each site has an average domain authority of 35. These sites may or may not be related to your niche. Your articles are expected to be in the style of whatever website you choose to post on.
Are the Links Contextual?
After reviewing the 25 sites in my network, I felt lucky: three of them were directly related to my niche. The rest were not even close. So in my opinion, the first three sites gave me a truly contextual link. The other two sites did not.
Rank Hero does try to show you how to put in a natural sounding link to your site from an unrelated site. For example, one of the websites in my assigned network was the personal blog of a college student named Gail. (Of course, Gail doesn’t own this site anymore, but you are expected to write a post that would be in her voice, informal and first person–at least that was my guess). So, according to Rank Hero, if your website is XYX Window Coverings and you are posting on Gail’s blog, you would write something like “I just visited my parents for Spring Break. They had redecorated the entire house and had these really cool mini blinds in the windows”. And of course, your anchor text would be ‘mini blinds’.
Now is this a contextual link? I don’t think so. I truly wish Rank Hero would organize their networks by category/niche, instead of just throwing in 25 random sites and telling you to do your best with it. To quote them, you should get “a lot of mileage” out of your assigned network. I just didn’t feel this way.
Will Your Rankings Improve?
I linked every one of the five articles to the same page on the site I was trying to improve. It wasn’t the homepage. Before using Rank Hero, that particular page ranked at number 7. After using Rank Hero, the rank did not improve at all. Not one single little bit. At first I thought that maybe I needed to give it some time. So I did. And after two months, there was still no change.
Would I Use Rank Hero Again?
The answer is no. To recap, here’s why:
- I didn’t like the network I was assigned to; they don’t really want to change it for you.
- Even once you sign up, you don’t actually get to see the websites. You get a description only of the website. They don’t let you see the website URL until you have actually written an article and submitted it to them. If you are expected to write in the style of that particular blog, it is very hard to do without being able to see the blog first.
- They tell you to write excellent content that is proofread, no errors, in great English and that can pass Copyscape. I took great care with what I wrote. What I found was they aren’t actually proofing these articles at all. I read other people’s stuff and it was full of spelling mistakes and other errors. This looked awful. I guess I’m such a perfectionist that I believe a blog that is only used for links should still be a great looking blog.
- One of the articles I wrote went on a blog that created a broken link–my link. After emailing Rank Hero about it, the answer I got was that it didn’t matter because Google would still see my link. Well, guess what? Majestic SEO says it was broken and deleted. Maybe I wanted good links, not just for Google rankings but also to continue to build a great link profile. That’s hard to do when a link I got was broken. I had absolutely no resolution about this.
- As stated above, my rankings didn’t improve at all. Why spend another $197 if the result might be the same? Now do keep in mind that Rank Hero doesn’t promise you’ll see a change right away. They do say “Get Higher Rankings-Check the SERPs and see your site move up in the rankings. That’s it – just rinse and repeat your way to the top!” I just didn’t get what I’d hoped for.