Product Name: The Rankings Institute
Product Owner: Andrew Hansen Alex Miller
Advertised Price: $997 or $297×4
Other Costs: Outsourcing, premium backlinks, $200-$400 for SEO services, possibly more.
What Is It?
This is an 8 week course designed to increase your rankings and income from an existing website.
This is a legitimate marketing course, with honest, helpful people that are going to give you your money’s worth. However, I disagree with some of the techniques they teach, and compared to other similar programs out there, the price is way too high.
It’s also NOT a course for beginners or for anyone on a budget. You can expect to pay more money once inside.
Before You Buy
First off, full disclosure, I am not a paying member of The Rankings Institute. But before you shoot me, know that the other positive reviews you’ve read are also not members.
The best ranking and most glowing review from Chronic Blogger mentions that she was given free access to the first three modules and hadn’t purchased at the time of writing the original review.
True, she updated later, but hasn’t finished the course yet.
I realize I’m starting off this review with a negative spin, but I really do think that The Rankings Institute is a legit product, so keep that in mind. It’s mega expensive though, so I feel that if you buy it, you need to be very informed about what you are buying.
Oh, and BTW you can pretty much ignore anything else currently ranked (Sept 12, 2014) on page one for reviews of this program. They are clearly shill reviews by people looking for a large commission.
What I Liked
The main thing I like about TRI was the personal support it offers. 3 live webinars, and weekly coaching calls with Andrew/Alex are probably the biggest appeal of joining this training.
It’s unclear exactly how the coaching is set up and if it’s truly 1-to-1. I can’t imagine how these guys manage a few hundred students, dedicating 2-3 hours per week for each one. It sounds like maybe there is one 2-3 hour session for a group of people, but I'm not really sure. Maybe someone can clarify in the comments.
Either way, it’s clear we get email access to these two, and that’s still pretty darn good. I know that for me, support from mentors in the industry was instrumental to my own success.
Update: Just wanted to reiterate that I have not personally used the support systems available here, so the positive part of the review is in part, speculation. From browsing other reviews and seeing these two involved in various communities, they do appear to be active and helpful. For me, support would be the main appeal of signing up to TRI.
No Unrealistic Expectations
The internet marketing industry is rife with scams. Just scroll through my product reviews and you’ll see that about 95% of what I review on my site is pure junk. About 50% of those are flat out scams.
They get you in with “million dollar secrets” and crazy rags to riches stories about magic USB drives or skydiving into people’s homes and teaching them to earn money.
It’s a madhouse.
The absence of those things in the advertising surrounding TRI is refreshing. These guys have made money online, and will teach you their methods.
The most important aspect of any learning in my opinion is the ability to discuss and learn from others. There’s a “inner circle” setup (included in membership) that allows you to meet up with other people at a similar level to you and discuss your successes/failures, and motivate each other.
Community was vital to me starting out online, and continued communication with others I respect and admire has helped my double my income from 2013 to 2014. In fact, I’m set to double it again by 2015.
I just mention the income stuff because a big part of me being able to do that is constant contact with other online marketers has helped me expand my horizons and think in new ways.
I am certainly not a genius, and even though I do this full time, I feel that I still need to talk to mentors to expand and grow my business.
OK, enough personal stuff. I just want to make the point that a community learning environment will always trump the results of a PDF guide or simple video series.
Oh, and there’s a private Facebook group too.
Ongoing Support To $1000 New Dollars
This is a pretty hefty promise, but not completely unrealistic. You are paying a huge price for The Rankings Institute. 6-12 months of ongoing support is plenty of time to increase your income by $1000 if you really dedicate yourself.
I’ve personally grown sites from zero to over $5k in a years time and seen newbies go from $0 to $600+ per month in 6 months time, so growing a site that’s already got traffic and earnings is a reasonable promise to make and reasonably easy one to keep.
Anyway, this is a great guarantee, and sets a nice tone that you can expect to earn your money back!
What I Didn’t Like
Only 8 Weeks
Though there is the $1000 new dollars promise as well as the Facebook group, it’s clear that this is a finite course. You can certainly take your time watching videos and reading text, but the weekly webinars and group sessions have a time limit.
We do have lifetime access to the members area and The Rankings Institute community, but it’s unclear how much support is provided by the owners once the 8 weeks are up.
If you are planning on joining, make sure the next 8 weeks of your schedule are cleared.
Focus on Backlinking
It’s hard to pick a #1 gripe with this program because there are a couple of big ones. Backlinking is a huge issue with me.
I personally destroyed a few of my sites and a large portion of my income back in 2011 by using bad backlinking practices. Some “smart guy” is going to chime in at this moment in the comment section and tell me, “Well, you got low quality backlinks”.
OK bro, but the services I bought them from also promised that they were high quality links, undetectable by Google, and would skyrocket my rankings. These were so-called legit sites recommended by the pros back then, and they hurt my business. Badly.
Now TRI comes out and says they will give us 10 free links from some mystery places, and there seems to be a HUGE focus on backlinking techniques. In fact, modules 4, 5, and 6 are about off-site SEO and link building; over 30% of the course!
Plus, these links are not going to be free.
I have a sneaking suspicion that they are going to recommend private blog networks which are very popular right now…which means they are very likely to have issues with Google very soon. That is speculation on my part, but when people start talking about ‘guaranteed rankings’, you’d better run the other way.
Other Expensive Tools
When you grow your business, there are going to be things that you have an option to pay for. But I know that a lot of you are on a budget, and are looking at this $997 as an already huge investment.
What if I told you that you will be offered hundreds of dollars in other tools and services once you are inside. From this comment below it sounds like there’s an offer for “SEO services” for $200-$400 per month. I saw this in a comment on another review, but it’s unclear what tool or services she’s talking about. She was clearly a registered member and is absolutely right that this is a huge price to pay for a newbie, and probably not that useful for someone already making a decent money from their site.
Oh, and the outsourcing services that “do the work you don’t want to do”. I’m guessing that those are paid services as well. Not a big deal – they should be – but I felt that should be clarified.
If you don’t have money for backlinks, 30% of the course just went out the window.
Not For Newbies
In a few different locations it was made very clear that this is not a product for complete newbies. If you don’t have a site, The Rankings Institute is not for you. If you don’t have traffic or earnings from a site yet, I’d venture to say that this isn’t for you either.
They do offer personal support as I mentioned above, but I think it’s expected that you are already at a certain level before you join. Forever Affiliate – owned by the same guys – (review coming soon) is recommended as their newbie course for someone starting out at level 0.
I haven’t done a full review of it yet. It's got some positive reviews from the interwebs, but at a first glance it looks like it may have some of the same issues I listed above. I have my own recommendation for a complete newbie course that you’ll see below.
After signing up for an affiliate, I watched part of a promo webinar they suggest we use as an introduction to TRI. You can see the webinar here.
It’s an unnecessary TWO HOURS long, and contains a lot of hype about earnings, secret SEO strategies, and typical stuff I don’t really care for. I was a bit disappointed to see this and have since knocked them down a few points for my rating.
A good product that delivers more than average value and may be suitable for some people in the middle ground of, “I have a site with traffic and earnings but don’t know how to get MORE”.
If you fit this description and some cash to invest in your business, remember that TRI has a 30 day money back guarantee. Though spending a couple grand now may feel like a punch in the gut, it could turn your site into a couple-grand-PER-MONTH business.
Alternatives For Newbies And Bootstrappers
Clearly if you are on a budget and/or a newbie to online marketing, The Rankings Institute is not for you. Wealthy Affiliate however, is right up your alley.
- Instead of $997 for 8 weeks you pay $359 for 12 months
- (Even on a monthly basis it’s $97 versus $47)
- Instead of 3 live webinars you get 4 live webinars per month
- Instead of email support from 2 guys you get private messaging to a whole community
- Instead of 100+ training modules, you get 500+
- Instead of $400 is SEO services, $0 in SEO
- No focus on backlinking
- No cost keyword tool
- Live chat with other members and owners
- Continual training update
- Free traffic and paid traffic training
- Learn to build a website from scratch
- Build traffic naturally to ensure long-term success of your site
- Personal support from owners
- Unlimited 1-on-1 support from me (for my referrals)
Clearly there are some differences here. I don’t mean to say that The Ranking Institute doesn’t deliver, but I do think that WA is going to be a better investment for most people. It’s the BEST investment for newbies.
I’m a Wealthy Affiliate member and have been for 4 years. I personally use their training to build my first business, and still use them as my #1 resource for growing my websites. I trust their advice and it’s why they’re my #1 recommendation.
You can read more about what they offer and my story of how I got started in my full Wealthy Affiliate Review.
Questions? Comments? Leave ‘em below.