Wealthy Affiliate Review: WA Proof of Success… or Failure? Part 3
- “Just the Bottom Line, Please”
- For Those Who Like Details and Numbers
- “Geek Corner:” Let’s Do the “Detail Deep Dive!”
- Results for “Oustanding-Excellent” Performance
- Results for “Medium” Performance
- Results for “Poor-to-Invisible” Performance
- Final Summary and Conclusions
This is the final installment of a 3-part series that reviews Wealthy Affiliate’s claims of solopreneur success. It specifically examines widespread fake reviews by their affiliates, which prospective new clients reach by searching for reviews about SBI!.
Aside from the one-sided, inaccurate content and the untruthful recommendation of Wealthy Affiliate’s superiority, visitors expect honest reviews. What they get are entry points to WA’s sales funnel. That’s fake.
When we discovered all this, we were highly suspicious that Wealthy Affiliate delivered little success. We believed that SBI! significantly out-performed WA because…
- both Wealthy Affiliate and reviews by WA affiliates fail to prove success. Any business that has a demonstrable advantage over competitors proves it, as we do with SBI!. There is no need for the games that we saw being played.
- we examined both their product and affiliate program in depth. We found the product quality lacking. And most of the affiliate training seems to lead affiliates into writing fake reviews.
- the company seemed to focus more on its own success, often to the disadvantage of the customer (ex., product seems to guide customers into “make money” – a notoriously difficult and depressing niche).
Since our reputation was under attack, we devised a Study to demonstrate which product was the best.
Part 1 laid out the elaborate Wealthy Affiliate fake review program. It closes with a “taste” of The Study’s results, which show how much Wealthy Affiliate’s reality differs from its claims. SBI! dominates at every level of success. WA excels only at failure.
Part 2 focuses mostly on the construction of The Study itself. We demonstrate how it is objective, rigorous, statistically significant and reproducible (i.e., you can perform the same process to derive your own results). These are the necessary qualities of a study that is as important as this one.
Part 3 (this post) culminates with the exposure of Wealthy Affiliate. SBI! dominates Wealthy Affiliate at delivering success, vindicating our claim of unmatched rates and levels of solopreneur success, shattering the WA illusion. Sadly, that is secondary…
Many in the “make money” arena seem to view it all as a game where only they and a select few make the money. The direct mail marketers of olden times are fully online and preying. Who is the prey?…
They include those who we have long championed – the “tortoises” who dare to stick their vulnerable necks out to work and build online businesses.
These everyday people are real human beings, not “marks.” They hope to impact their lives, their families’ lives, in a significantly positive way.
They deserve our respect – our best. They do not deserve to be misled by fake affiliate reviews to products that cut their chance of success by 90%. Many of these themselves end up in the soul-less morass of the “make money” arena.
In fairness, you will see that WA’s affiliates may have been misled by Wealthy Affiliate itself – some may only be learning the truth by reading this now. Either way, those who would knowingly mislead a ready-to-work solopreneur astray deserves our condemnation.
We urge you to read on and draw your own conclusion. After reading this page, please share and link to this if you feel the way we do.
The truth will out.Shakespeare
“Just the Bottom Line, Please”
The preamble to Part 2 simplified how to approach a study like this, for those who aren’t comfortable with evaluating the quality of a study. It suggested (tongue in cheek) that you could just trust us. But hey — this is the world of Internet marketing!
So if you do not know us, and if you don’t want to figure out the whole post (which we always recommend), here’s what you can do to gain trust in the quality and reliability of The Study…
Depend on the folks who love to dig into information like that. If they find a problem with it, they’ll bring it up. For that, check out Part 2’s comments!
A strong study must be objective, rigorous, statistically significant and reproducible by third parties (i.e., you can perform the same process to derive your own results). Why is it important for the study to be so rock-solid?
We’re making some serious conclusions about SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate. Loads of companies throw out lots of claims, but that’s just “marketing-ese.” They’re not facts. For example, when WA tells its affiliates WA is the best, there’s no proof — zero.
Part 3 may be rather heavy if you aren’t good with numbers. You may stumble over parts of this post. We still suggest you read it all, but at a minimum…
- Read this section. It summarizes what’s important
- Read the final conclusion. This is more than a quarrel about Wealthy Affiliate business practices. There are greater ramifications at stake.
We summarize the key points here if you’d rather get to the bottom line results and conclusions quickly. You already know by now that….
- the study itself is rock-solid if it survives the comments of readers in Part 2
- you can trust the results because we gave everyone the exact process for doing the study. There are bound to be some “geeks” (and we use that term lovingly) who will repeat it. And actually….
We repeated the study in early May. The results were virtually identical (we provide evidence lower down). You can depend on the following big picture results…
These are hard-core facts from a solid study — not claims or marketing-speak.
Here are the facts from The Study….
SBI! places 22X (according to Alexa), 33X (SW) and 43X (SEMrush) more sites into the Top 1,000,000 sites (aka “the Top 1M”) than Wealthy Affiliate (after correcting for the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has 70% more active sites than SBI!).
Averaging out these three results, it’s fair to estimate that SBI! makes you 33 times more likely to achieve a high level of solopreneur success (“Outstanding-Excellent”).
- In the bar chart below, you see a breakdown summary that covers all the traffic ranges from…
- the highest Alexa success (0-100K — extremely difficult for a solopreneur to achieve), to…
- the worst failure (>30,000,000 — virtually no traffic)
See the red and blue “Bar Couplets” in the charts below? There’s one Bar Couplet for each range of Alexa traffic ranking. The blue bar represents SBI!. Wealthy Affiliate is red.
Each couplet is a percentage, and the two add up to 100%. Each couplet, therefore, shows how much of each traffic range (e.g., 0-100K) is contributed by SBI! sites and how much by WA sites.
Note that there are two bar charts. The first is from the first study of this type ever published (performed in early April). We repeated the study to test its reliability in early May (the second bar chart)…
Scanning across each chart from left to right shows the two charts to be virtually identical, adding even more confidence in reliability.
That preliminary scan also leads to clear early impressions. Wealthy Affiliate contributes almost nothing to higher levels of success — SBI! contributes almost all. SBI! continues to dominate as we move into “Medium” levels of success. Meanwhile, Wealthy Affiliate starts to contribute more significantly as traffic grows weak. WA only passes SBI! significantly at the worst traffic level (basically no traffic).
Now let’s dig into that more deeply..
Results and Conclusions
As we scan the “bar couplets” from left to right (decreasing traffic), one range at a time, we can see the following (for both the April and May studies)…
- SBI! dominates the 2 highest-traffic ranges, 0-100K and 100K-200K (almost 100%)
- SBI! contributes over 90% of each 100K bracket until reaching 1M (the end of the “Outstanding-Excellent” division).
- SBI! contributes 80-90% until reaching 4-5M, which takes us into the middle of the “Medium” traffic grouping.
- As we continue from left to right, WA contributes a progressively greater percent of the decreasing traffic ranges, as we leave the “Medium” division and process through “Poor-to-Invisible.”
- Finally, we get to the worst level. Alexa >30M correlates with SW >30M and SEMrush of 0 (zero). This is the only bracket where WA significantly “passes” SBI! — the worst traffic level possible (>30M). It contributes 80% of the zero traffic sites.
In short, Wealthy Affiliate excels only at failure.
AND THIS REVIEW WAS WEALTHY AFFILIATE’S BEST CASE
The bar chart comparison of Wealthy Affiliate vs. SBI! presents Wealthy Affiliate in its most favorable light possible. There are two reasons for that.
- We used Alexa. SBI! did better with SW and best with SEMrush. There’s no point in showing them all. They look the same, following the same patterns. It’s just that the numerical results were even more favorable for SBI! (more on that in the (optional) Details section).
- This chart shows absolute numbers. We did not correct for the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has 70% more sites. SBI!’s success is 70% more impressive than shown.
What if we had presented SBI! in its most favorable light (corrected-for-70% results, and using SEMrush)? The results would look, frankly, unbelievable.
We were, at first, surprised that there’s this much difference. Although we knew the study was solid, we could not help asking what we could possibly be missing. A total review, followed by a repeat of the study in May, proved that what may sound like marketing-speak exaggeration (e.g., “33X better”) was hard-core study results.
- a powerful vindication of the power of SBI!, and
- a contradiction of the claims of Wealthy Affiliate and its affiliates.
In short, the numbers speak for themselves. Loudly.
Every Wealthy Affiliatereview that proclaims WA to be “#1” or “best” or “my best recommendation to you” (and so forth) is now proven wrong.
No one can justify a recommendation of WA over SBI! with statements such as…
“Well it’s my opinion. I prefer Wealthy Affiliate because ____[FILL IN EXCUSE HERE]_____.”
A fake review can be defined as a positive, neutral or negative review that is not an actual consumer’s honest and impartial opinion or that does not reflect a consumer’s genuine experience of a product, service or business.European Parliamentary Research Service, 2015
When people search for a review for any product, they expect an honest review that reflects an impartial opinion. The job of an honest, competent reviewer is to represent the best interests of the reader. That includes making the best, objective recommendation possible.
Once Wealthy Affiliate affiliates know these results, there will be no moral justification for recommending a product that significantly decreases one’s chance of success.
And, although I’m not a lawyer, it seems to me that the affiliate who recommends such a product incurs liability for lost time (opportunity cost), as well as the cost of the product and perhaps even punitive damages.
It also seems to me that Wealthy Affiliate incurs both a moral and legal obligation to inform its affiliates of the truth and of their potential liability.
After all, the person who searches for “SBI! review” at Google does not expect to enter into WA’s sales funnel. They expect honest reviews. They trust them.
This brings us out of the legal and into what matters…
Don’t Mess With People’s Dreams!
People who make searches for, say “Solo Build It! reviews” are seriously considering taking a big step in their lives. Starting an online business is driven by serious goals…
It may be a stay-at-home spouse who wants to supplement family income while staying at home for the children. It could be someone who wants to quit the day job so s/he can work in joy while attaining personal freedom and self-reliance.
You don’t mess with people’s dreams and families’ futures to line your pockets. Heck, you don’t mess with them, period. We’re talking about real people’s lives.
How Wealthy Affiliate responds to the results of this study will, in effect, define them (the owners) as people. We look forward to seeing if they do the right thing. Or…
Will they continue to train and pay affiliates to write these reviews, knowing the clear results here?
Will they continue to move these folks into depressing “make money” niches with near-zero chance of success?
Will they continue to use our name to lure solopreneurs in a way that offends our core beliefs about what solopreneurs deserve?
Whatever they do, their actions will define them for who they really are.
We invite your comments below. If you know of unhappy ex-users of Wealthy Affiliate, please send them here to share their story.
We have learned much about the cult-like control that’s exerted over dissenters, from the loss of commenting privileges to negative-review web pages that are taken down after legal threat or action.
We want to hear those stories.
Judging from Wealthy Affiliate’s dropout rate, we suspect that most just chalk WA up to a bad experience. But we also suspect that there are far more dissenters than we know of who have been shut down.
We want to hear those stories. The ramifications are far too important to let the true story be covered up.
Solo Build It! has, since 2002, been the solopreneur’s best chance. We have long championed the “tortoises” who dare to stick their necks out to build an online business to impact their lives, their families’ lives.
They deserve better.
Not Into Numbers?
The next several sections dig into the numbers in some depth. If that’s your bag or if you’re curious enough to at least skim it, please do. We’ve tailored this post to meet the need of both “bottom line” folks and those who thrive on detail.
If you’ve had enough numbers, that’s OK. You have the big picture of what’s going on. You can ignore what comes next and skip to the final conclusion.
For Those Who Like Details and Numbers
This section is for those who like to dig deeper. You’ll have a better understanding of the results. The overall conclusions remain, of course, the same. You’ll reunite (with those who dropped out just above) at the final discussion.
Here we go…
In our Alexa (SimilarWeb/SEMrush) review, we divided traffic rankings into 7 major ballparks…
- Outstanding (less than 100,000)
- Excellent (100,001 – 1,000,000)
- Pretty Good (1,000,001 to 2,500,000)
- Medium (2,500,001 to 5,000,000)
- Poor (5,000,001 to 20,000,000)
- Bad (greater than 20,000,000).
- Invisible (>30,000,000 — “No data”)
These ballpark estimates give you a pretty solid estimate of where your site stands vs. a competitor, one of 6 useful ways to employ these tools). If your SimilarWeb (SW) ranking is 3,500,000, for example, your site is in the mid-range “Medium” ballpark in traffic…
A competing site (one in the same niche) in the middle of “Pretty Good” (e.g., 1,800,000) would, barring the rare outlier, have more traffic than you. One with a ranking of 15,000,000 (solidly “Poor”) would have less. That’s ballpark-reliable, and it’s useful info.
If you have 1,400,000 vs. a competitor with 1,500,000 at Alexa, there’s not much difference. And you can use (SW) and SEMrush to add certainty.
Borderline cases, such as a ranking of 2,600,000 that puts you in “Medium” could, in reality, have enough traffic to “deserve” to be in “Pretty Good.” But when a study measures tens, hundreds or thousands of sites in each ballpark, “Scatter” averages out closer to 0 as the numbers increase (as mentioned in Part 2). Corroborating results from Alexa and SEMrush (i.e., similar number of sites in the same ballpark) adds greater certainty.
Understanding concepts like this makes it easy to understand why The Study’s results are highly reliable and a good reflection of reality.
7 Become 3
The 7 ballparks structure is a good starting reference point. For parts of this study, we simplify the 7 to 3 major divisions.
For example, the “Outstanding-Excellent” division includes sites from both the “Outstanding” and “Excellent” ballparks. That means…
- Alexa traffic in the top 100K (“Outstanding”) and top 100K-1M (“Excellent”)
- SimilarWeb traffic ranking the same as Alexa’s
- SEMrush organic traffic over 100K*
*SEMrush “works” differently from Alexa and SW. We show later how we “translate” traffic numbers (SEMrush) into traffic rankings (for easy comparison with Alexa and SW) further.
The other 2 divisions are…
- “Medium” (1,000,001-10,000,000, aka 1M-10M)
- “Poor-to-Invisible” (>10,000,000, aka >10M)
These divisions group larger numbers of sites together, maximizing statistical significance. Using divisions also simplifies the “Details” section of this report (optional reading for those who love numbers)…
That’s where we deliver the detailed results for each division. Doing it for 7 ballparks would have made this even longer, without gaining any new conclusions.
We also look at the data in two other ways, to catch other important observations…
We’ll periodically take a look at the extreme ballparks, “Outstanding” and “Invisible.” Valuable conclusions lie in this Solo Build It! vs. Wealthy Affiliate review.
We will also break down the entire set of sites into smaller traffic ranges. This enables us to summarize results across many more groupings, showing patterns that lead to important conclusions.
OK, ready? Dig in!
“Geek Corner:” Let’s Do the “Detail Deep Dive!”
Ok, it’s time for us kindred spirits to have some fun and dig deeper. Earlier, we talked about boiling 7 ballparks into 3 divisions…
- “Outstanding-Excellent” (1-1,000,000, aka Top 1M)
- “Medium” (1,000,001-10,000,000, aka 1M-10M)
- “Poor-to-Invisible.” (>10,000,000, aka >10M)
This populates each group with so many sites that we pass the most severe statistical tests of significance. Also, these deep-dives are detailed — repeating the exercise for all 7 ballparks would have made this section much longer, with no new conclusions (the “Bar Couplet” bar charts already show us the “granular” pattern).
In this section we deep-dive into each of the three divisions. Aside from seeing how SBI! and Wealthy Affiliate perform against each other at each level, we want to see whether Alexa, SW and SEMrush deliver similar comparative results, validating the results.
Ordered Traffic Rankings vs. Traffic Measurement
Alexa and SW are ordered rankings. The higher traffic sites have lower traffic rankings. The closer you are to #1 (Google), the closer you are to the top of the heap (YouTube is #2 and Facebook is #3 at Alexa).
A solopreneur who ranks in the Top 1M is truly “Outstanding-Excellent” for two reasons…
- There are 170,000,000 active sites (according to Netcraft). That roughly puts these sites into the Top ½ of 1% of all sites. Truly, an accomplishment, but…
- It’s all the more impressive because only a small percent of these 1,000,000 sites are owned by solopreneurs. The vast majority are owned by larger companies.
In an earlier study, we showed how larger companies dominate the ranks of the highest-trafficked sites. Solopreneurs dominate the lower and lowest ranks. It’s a hard, but doable, slog to the Top 5M, then top 2.5M, and finally the Top 1M.
But for those who try to figure it out on their own, or who fall into poor “systems,” that article goes on to show how this hard reality stares them in the face….
The vast majority of the “bottom 99%” — the 168,000,000 active sites (out of the total of 170M), those to the right of 2M — are solopreneurs.
Translation: Most don’t make it. We’ve already seen in this study how 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites fall into the “Invisible” ballpark (Alexa >30M, SW >30M, and SEMrush = 0).
By now, you may be asking, “What about SEMrush?”
SEMrush provides a third and completely different way to sample site traffic, hence increases the reliability of The Study, as covered earlier. Since search is usually the major source of traffic for content sites, it’s a reasonable proxy for total traffic.
However, Alexa and SW present the order of sites, so smaller numbers are better. With SEMrush, higher numbers indicate higher levels of search-generated traffic. How do we bring SEMrush into the “ordered world” so we can continue to use one measuring stick across the board?
To make results equivalent to the “Top x” sites of Alexa and SW, we needed to determine equivalent ranges of SEMrush traffic values. Similar numbers of sites in each SEMrush range would indicate similar levels of difficulty.
Determining this turned out to be remarkably easy because the SEMrush levels fit with our own day-to-day experience. We had empirically noted that we considered sites with SEMrush traffic >5,000 to be Outstanding-Excellent, those with 100-5,000 were Medium, and 0-100 were Poor-to-Invisible.
Sure enough, there were roughly the same number of sites with SEMrush traffic of 5,000+ as there were for Alexa and SW < 1,000,000. All three had a similar level of difficulty, hence can be considered as its “Outstanding-Excellent” range.
The same applied to “Medium” and “Poor-to-Invisible.” Problem solved.
Armed with that information and our bathing trunks (the ones with the π design!), let’s start by studying the best, “Outstanding-Excellent.” As we work our way through each of “Medium” and then “Poor-to-Invisible,” we’ll study the detailed results for Alexa, then SW and finally SEMrush.
Results for “Oustanding-Excellent” Performance
Alexa Results Top 1M
WA hosts 1.7 times as many “real” sites as SBI! (16,814 “real” sites for WA and 9,948 for SBI!). Now that we’re digging into the details, let’s correct for that…
If SBI! had 17,000 sites, it would have 1,185 (697 x 1.7) sites in this category. Compared to WA’s 53 sites, SBI! is 2, 236% (or 22.4X) more effective at delivering success at this high level.
As shown in our Alexa study, rankings of 1,000,000 or better are reliable ballpark measures. (The old disclaimer limit of 100,000 on Alexa’s site dates back to 2003 — see the Alexa review series for why 1,000,000 is “the new 100,000.”
Here’s another way to consider the data. Putting aside the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has 70% more real sites, SBI! accounts for 93% (697/750) of the total of all SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 96%.
Here’s that graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
Correcting for the 70% difference, SBI! is 42.5 times more likely to place a site in this most rarefied atmosphere.
Alexa Top 1M Conclusion/Discussion
The uncorrected difference of 697 to 53 is striking. When corrected for the 1.7 differential, the “score” is 1185 to 53.
The number of Outstanding sites is, well, outstanding. SBI! only accounts for 1/200th of 1% of all websites in the world (10,000/170,000,000). For it to place 25 sites in that stratosphere is “punching way above its weight.”
But the more meaningful difference is in the Top 1M, a measure of excellence that we have displayed on our Results page of 500 sites for many years.
It’s a clear win for SBI! over Wealthy Affiliate here. No contest.
Now let’s compare that to…
SimilarWeb Results Top 1M
The 1.7 correction brings the corrected total of SBI! sites in the SW Top 1M to 1,100 vs. 34 for Wealthy Affiliate.
SBI! is 3,235% (32.4X) more effective at delivering the same high level success.
SBI! accounts for 95% (647/681) of the total number of SBI! and Wealthy Affiliate sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 97%.
Here’s that graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
SBI! has 37 sites here, while Wealthy Affiliate has 1.
The total sites in the 0-200K range are 59 for SBI vs. 1 for WA.
Correcting for the 70% difference, SBI! is 100 times more likely to place a site in the 0-200K rarefied atmosphere.
The differential is the same order of magnitude better, somewhat more pronounced.
SW Top 1M Conclusion/Discussion
SimilarWeb shows the same extreme difference, except higher. The likelihood of this level of success for SBI! sites increases from 22.4X to 33.4X.
The percentage domination is virtually the same (97% vs. 96% Alexa).
The “Outstanding” difference is even more extreme.
The SW Top 1M shows a strong corroboration of our Alexa success findings.
Now let’s compare that to…
SEMrush Results Top 1M
Sites with traffic of 5000+ at SEMrush can be considered in the Outstanding-Excellent range. They are equivalent in level of difficulty to get to Alexa and SW’s Top 1 million sites.
The 680 corrects to 1,156 sites (Wealthy Affiliate has 1.7X more sites) vs. WA’s 27. That means that SBI! is 4,281% (42.8X) more effective at delivering success.
SBI! accounts for 96% (680/707) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 97%.
Here’s the SEMrush graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
SEMrush Top 1M Conclusion/Discussion
We see another across-the-board correlation with Alexa and SW. The extra degree may suggest that SBI! is especially effective at growing higher search traffic.
Bottom Line of Top 1M
All three measures of traffic agree and average out to SBI! being 33X more likely to turn a solopreneur into an elite-level performer.
That is, in a word, massive.
Wealthy Affiliate and its affiliates err (at least when it comes to elite performance) when claiming superiority of/recommending WA in their fake reviews.
How do WA and SBI! do as we move down the food chain?
Results for “Medium” Performance
The next range (1M to 10M) pulls together the following ballparks from our study…
- Pretty Good (1,000,001 to 2,500,000)
- Medium (2,500,001 to 5,000,000)
- Poor (5,000,001 to 10,000,000)
These are medium-performing solopreneurs. This division includes the higher-performing “Pretty Good” ballpark and mid-range “Medium” ballpark. It also includes the top 5,000,000 of the “Poor” ballpark (which ranges from 5M to 20M.)
There’s a wide range of performance in here. We have already seen, though, in the Couplets bar charts (April and May) that…
- SBI! contributes over 90% of each 100K bracket until reaching 1M (the end of the “Outstanding-Excellent” division).
- SBI! contributes 80-90% until reaching 4-5M, which takes us into the middle of the “Medium” traffic grouping.
The pattern from that chart also shows how low traffic must get before Wealthy Affiliate makes contributions of 40% or more.
So we already know the “granular” breakdowns — there’s no point in doing it for ballparks.
This deep-dive is meant to assemble a large enough group of sites to get highly significant results in a group that we can consider as averaging out to “Medium.” Although traffic rankings become less reliable as traffic decreases, this grouping contains enough sites for the results to be significant.
SimilarWeb uses the same range, 1M-10M.
SEMrush’s Medium range (i.e., the traffic equivalent) runs 100-5,000.
We start, as is now usual, with Alexa…
Alexa Results 1M-10M (aka “Medium”)
However, even though a site with an Alexa traffic ranking of 2M may be as “off” as 3M (not likely), both fall into this ballpark, leaving the number of sites in this division unchanged. Also, given the high number of sites in this grouping, scatter tends to average out to close to zero.
Finally, if results are corroborated by SW and SEMrush, the conclusions herein are highly reliable.
Keep in mind that Wealthy Affiliate hosts 1.7 times as many “real” sites as SBI!. So we correct the number of SBI! sites to 5,875 in this category vs. 925 for WA.
SBI! is 635% (6.4x) more effective at delivering “Medium” success.
SBI! accounts for 79% (3456/4381) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 86%.
Here is that graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
Alexa Results 1M-10M (aka “Medium”) Conclusions/Discussion
We see again a clear dominance of SBI!, averaging 6.4X (corrected) increased chance of reaching this level, across the entire division. Breaking that down…
As we scan across the couplets (above graph) of traffic ranges from 1-2M to 9-10M, WA only begins to make significant contributions at the low end of the Medium division.
SBI! is again the clear winner.
SimilarWeb Results 1M-10M (aka “Medium”)
Correcting for the 1.7 factors, SBI! places 5,178 sites in this category, vs Wealthy Affiliate’s 668. This means that SBI! is 775% (7.8X) more effective at delivering medium-level success when using SW for the measurements.
SBI! accounts for 82% (3,046/3,714) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 89%.
Here is the graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
SimilarWeb 1M-10M (aka “Medium”) Conclusions/Discussion
SW shows a similar ballpark of effectiveness, increasing from 6.4X (Alexa) to 7.8X more effective.
The dominance is similar, 86% increasing to 89% (corrected). And the pattern, as you move down in traffic from 1-2M to 9-10M, is the same.
SimilarWeb corroborates SBI!’s dominance in Alexa of the Medium division.
SEMrush Results 1M-10M (aka “Medium”)
We define 100-5,000 as having a similar level of difficulty, hence being considered as its “Medium” range.
Applying the 1.7 correction factor brings us to 5,275 SBI! sites in this category vs. 360. SBI! is 1,465% (14.7X) more effective at delivering medium-range success.
SBI! accounts for 90% (3103/3463) of the total of SBI! and Wealthy Affiliate sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage increases to 94%.
Here is the SEMrush graph, uncorrected for the 70% difference…
SEMrush 1M-10M (aka “Medium”) Conclusions/Discussion
SEMrush corroborates Alexa and SW findings.
As for the Outstanding-Excellent division, SEMrush shows an even higher ballpark of effectiveness, increasing from 6.4X (Alexa) and 7.8X (SW) to 14.7X more effective.
This is an additional indication that SBI! has an extra degree of search-effectiveness.
Bottom Line of 1M-10M (aka “Medium”)
All three measures of traffic agree and average out to SBI! being 9.6X more likely to generate “Medium” performance, with 86%, 89% and 94% ownership of the division by SBI!.
Although this division covers a wide range, we see how Alexa, SW and SEMrush all show SBI! has the highest performance at the high end of “Medium,“ while WA finally shows some significant contribution at the low end, although still not outperforming SBI!.
This near 10X improvement is highly significant. So once again…
Wealthy Affiliate and its affiliates err when claiming superiority of/recommending WA in their fake reviews.
By now, you may be wondering where most of the WA sites are. If so, we’re getting there. Next…
Results for “Poor-to-Invisible” Performance
This final grouping is the most interesting and the most important. Solopreneurs who manage to reach the Medium level of performance should know enough that, with continued application and improvement, they can work their way up the “traffic ladder.”
However, failure to get out of this final division indicates a lack of sufficient ability to succeed. “Ability” is merely applied knowledge.
In short, this is the “transitional” zone. Unless a site is here because it’s just starting out, this is the “fail zone.” And, perhaps not coincidentally, based on all that we know of WA by now, this is where WA overtakes and then far exceeds SBI!.
This division measures various degrees of failure. It’s composed of the following 3 of the 7 ballparks from our series of posts on Alexa…
- Poor (10,000,001 to 20,000,000)
- Bad (greater than 20,000,000).
- Invisible (>30,000,000 “No data”)
The Poor ballpark was split for this study. The top 5,000,000 (5M to 10M) was assigned to “Medium.” The remaining 10M (10-20M) are included in the third and final division of The Study.
While SBI! has dominated every range (and sub-range within a major range), we have seen WA reducing that gap as we reach the lowest traffic ranks of the “Medium” division.
Let’s follow that progression as we review this third and lowest-traffic division.
Alexa Results 10M to >30M (aka “Poor-to-Invisible”)
Note how, starting at 5M to 6M, and continuing through 9M to 10M, WA (red) increases relative to SBI! (blue).
See how this continues in the bar chart below……
At 10M to 20M, WA continues to close the gap. At 20M to 30M, it inches ahead. The pattern in this transitional range is more important than the actual numbers. It’s clear that WA is delivering increasing numbers of failing sites as the fail-level worsens.
Finally, when we reach the much larger group of 30M+ (the “Invisible” ballpark from the Alexa study), Wealthy Affiliate dominates.
While sites in the 10M to 20M and 20M to 30M ranges may have some hope, the 30M+ group is so large and absent of traffic, we’ll examine this “fail”group in more detail….
Studying the final large ballpark of Invisible sites…
Correcting for the 1.7 factor helps Wealthy Affiliate this time. WA is, after correction, 221% (2.2X) more “effective” at delivering abject failure.
In other words, except for the occasional outlier, this range truly indicates zero or (undetectable) near-zero traffic.
Given the high number of sites in this grouping, reliability is certain, as is the 2.2X factor. While SBI! dominates high-traffic (33X) and medium (9.6X), WA suddenly “owns” the >30M.
Wealthy Affiliate accounts for 79% (13,902/17,596) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference in total sites, the percentage decreases to 69%.
Given the large number of sites, and assuming that the results are corroborated by SW and SEMrush, the conclusions herein will be 100% accurate.
SimilarWeb Results 10M to >30M (aka “Poor-to-Invisible”)
And this trend continues…
At 10M to 20M, WA continues to close the gap. At 20M to 30M, it inches ahead. And WA dominates at 30M+, identical to the Alexa progression…
Studying the final large group of Invisible sites…
Correcting for the 70% differential in sites, WA is 211% (2.1X) more “effective” at delivering abject failure.
Wealthy Affiliate accounts for 78% (14,490/18,527) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage decreases to 68%.
These results are corroborated by the Alexa numbers.
Wealthy Affiliate clearly has surpassed SBI! in what can be considered “abject failure.”
SEMrush Results 0 to 100 (aka “Poor-to-Invisible”)
The couplets again show Wealthy Affiliate contributing more at the failing end of the “Medium” division, the ratio of SBI! to WA decreasing (100-200 is the “failure end”).
We see the same progression of WA “catching up” to SBI! as traffic rankings deteriorate into the Poor-to-Invisible study (below)…
Important: Since SEMrush shows traffic numbers, scan right to left for deteriorating traffic.
Note how Wealthy Affiliate steadily increases as a fraction of SBI! as traffic deteriorates.
Now see below for how this continues…
Still scanning right-to-left, we see WA closing the gap on SBI!, until it dominates SBI! when SEMrush traffic is zero…
Studying the final large group of Invisible sites (traffic = 0)…
Correcting for the 70% differential in sites, WA is 267% (2.7X) more “effective” at delivering zero search traffic.
WA accounts for 78% (15,308/18,684) of the total of SBI! and WA sites in this range. Correcting for the 70% difference, the percentage decreases to 73% — almost a 3:1 ratio.
The data is further corroborated by the high number of sites here and the close corroboration with Alexa and SW.
WA clearly surpasses SBI! in only one category — “abject failure.”
Bottom Line of 10M > 30M (aka “Poor-to-Invisible”)
The data is conclusive. Wealthy Affiliate excels only at failure. Wealthy Affiliate’s claims, along with its affiliates’ fake reviews, offer the beginning of a WA sales funnel, not the objective review that the searcher is counting upon.
Final Summary and Conclusions
This study measured the traffic performance of every real site of Wealthy Affiliate and Solo Build It! using three traffic metrics tools (Alexa, SW, SEMrush), all of which delivered the same results.
Wealthy Affiliate claims a high level of success…
- on its sales site (“There are 1,000’s of people succeeding every day within Wealthy Affiliate”)
- in its affiliate training materials (they suggest repeatedly that the affiliate serves the reader of such reviews well because there’s nothing as good as WA).
However, it offers no proof of success. SBI! always has (and in a variety of verifiable ways). WA affiliates’ fake reviews flood the search results related to SBI! reviews.
This study was devised to discover and document the truth. Now we have it…
WA’s affiliate reviews damage our sales and have even undermined the confidence of current SBI! members (who later find a review). Fake reviews work, a sad fact.
These reviews infest search results for every permutation of our name and the word “review(s)” (e.g., “review of Solo Build It!” and “Site Build It! reviews”).
Furthermore, due to certain guidance by Wealthy Affiliate, around ⅓ of WA customers are in “make money” related niches. This swells the ranks of WA affiliates, something that serves the company well, but not the customer…
We encourage SBIers to find a “real world” niche, something that they know and love. Our history has shown us that doing this has a greater chance of success over “make money.”
This study has greater value than merely proving how effective SBI! is and how ineffective Wealthy Affiliate is. It‘s the first step toward a more vigorous response.
Based upon research about Wealthy Affiliate, we do not believe that they’ll stop what we believe to be an unethical, perhaps illegal, marketing practice. Complaints by other victims and at least one lawsuit convince us of their determination to stay on this course.
Sadly, we expect the problem to continue to grow. The promise of money (that only a small percent will ever earn) from this practice will keep pushing more fake reviews out there.
We do not market in this manner, but we will respond. We have no choice. Left unchecked, Wealthy Affiliate and fake reviews will strangle our sales beyond corporate viability. Here’s why…
Choosing SBI! to build an online business is a serious decision. Those who search for reviews will be dissuaded from purchasing SBI!, a product that gives them a far better chance to succeed.
This Conclusive Study Was Our First Step
An examination of Wealthy Affiliate’s methods convinced us that its level of success is almost surely substantially below ours. We base that upon the advice given to customers and affiliates, the quality of their materials, and self-serving practices that helped WA to grow, but that seem counter-productive for the solopreneur.
We summarize the striking results with this striking graph…
The graph includes all the traffic ranges, highest traffic (0-100K) at the far left, dropping until traffic is essentially zero at the far right.
The pair of blue lines represent SBI!’s share (in percent) of each traffic range (R1 is the original April study, R2 is the repeat performed in May). The orange lines are Wealthy Affiliate (also labelled as “R1” and “R2”).
No, the blue line is much higher than the orange one (WA) because each point on the line is the percent share of the total of SBI! and WA sites in that traffic range.
For example, go to the 900K-1M traffic range. You can see that the blue lines are at 90% and the orange ones at 10%. That means, despite Wealthy Affiliate having 70% more sites, SBI!! sites are 90% of all the sites in that traffic range.
So you’re not seeing more sites. Those high blue lines signify more success.
The minimal deviations between R1 and R2 for each company, compared to the huge performance gap, is one more indicator of The Study’s reliability.
This graph presents Alexa data, uncorrected for the 70% difference in number of sites. If we presented the SW data and corrected it for the number of sites, the pattern would be similar, but the SBI! Advantage would look even larger.
The graph shows how much each product contributes to each traffic range (in terms of percentage). For example, SBI! contributes 100% of all sites in the 0-100K range for the second study in May (“SBI! R2”).
SBI! way outperforms WA even though WA has 70% more sites.
Look at the pattern as you go from highest success (left) to abject failure (right).
SBI! contributes ridiculously more to the most successful ranges, from the highest traffic rankings (1-100K) to the 900K-1M range.
It continues to dominate through all levels of “Medium” success, as well.
Notice how the difference narrows as the results deteriorate? Here is what’s happening…
WA’s version of “success” is what SBI! would consider to be low-to-mid range.
WA’s “best” sites are starting to show up in numbers that still can’t keep up with us.
The gap steadily narrows as you move left-to-right through Medium, even though we maintain a large edge (and remember, this does not correct for the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has 70% more sites).
It’s only when we get to the the worst sub-sections that WA catches up. The crossover happens at the second-worst traffic level. After that, WA suddenly shoots way past us (when traffic is basically zero).
WA “owns” that final range. The worst one.
Other Highlights From The Study
The most striking results showed that SBI! placed…
- 2,236%-4,281% more sites in the Top 1M sites in the world (average of 33X more sites)
- 635%-1,465% more in the Top 1M-10M sites in the world (average of almost 10X more)
- WA only surpasses SBI! in failure. Any site ranked >30M (Alexa or SW) or 0 (SEMrush) essentially gets no traffic.
Does Traffic Mean Success?
Some reviews may argue that traffic is a poor measure of success. Those are invariably the arguments of a company with a product that cannot build traffic.
Tip for Evaluating “Success Stories”
Ignore claims of income. Anyone can (and many do) lie.
Ignore scans of bank accounts, checks, or screenshots of Google Analytics. All of those can be faked.
Ignore wonderful life-changing stories — they’re easy to make up.
Look for the only thing that can’t be faked — the domain name of the success story. That enables you to verify traffic with Alexa, SW and SEMrush.
The domain name lets you visit the site and assess it for yourself. You can even use the contact form to reach out to the owner of the site.
Bottom line on Success Stories? If it does not come with a domain name, ignore it.
While high traffic is not an absolute guarantee of financial success, you can’t earn much without it. You’ll be amazed at the number of sensational-looking sites that get no traffic. Use Alexa, SW and SEMrush to sniff out the baloney.
In general, regardless of your monetization model, the higher your traffic, the greater your income. That said…
There are some sites with low traffic and high monetization (e.g., a Hollywood real estate agent). And high-traffic sites with low income exist (sites that over-rely on passive methods of monetization).
However, income is usually proportionate to traffic. Conversely…
NO TRAFFIC (a WA problem) = NO INCOME.
Using Traffic as the Success Metric in Studies
As mentioned earlier, measuring traffic using third-party services such as Alexa, SW and SEMrush is the best and most practical way to do a study such as this one.
One of the most important reasons is that it’s verifiable — you can’t check an income claim with any certainty. Please see that discussion on how we define success.
In reality, the traffic results probably underestimate the SBI! success story. SBIers are…
- not misled into being affiliates in “make money” niches
- better trained in the important step of monetizing traffic
- receive better, multi-dimensional information, such as implementing higher “$-per-visitor” models once traffic is high and time priorities can be moved toward more active, higher-paying models
In short, they get the best business-building information possible.
Open Call to Wealthy Affiliate Owners, Customers and Affiliates
The data of this study, combined with observed and reported Wealthy Affiliate practices, suggests that WA is a brilliant, opportunistic marketer that convinces others to over-represent its reputation for success.
The Study, together with an examination of its product and affiliate program, suggests that Wealthy Affiliate appears to take unethical advantage of both customer and affiliates to better serve its own financial returns.
Most or all of its affiliates likely believe what they write due to high-volume repetition of “Wealthy Affiliate is the best” stated in many different ways. Affiliates do not seem to be point-blank told to write “fake reviews” so they can bait and switch Solo Build It! pre-customers to Wealthy Affiliate.
But it’s the conclusion they draw, one that we draw given the state of search results for SBI! and other products. (WA affiliates receive a list of 175 products to review!)
The fake SBI! reviews contain mostly misinformation, often rehashed from out-of-date information from older reviews. We object to that, but there’s no point in debating it when the bottom-line recommendation is demonstrably wrong.
The Study proved that the difference between SBI! and WA is massive. It goes further, in fact, since WA produces very little success, period.
The Study negates claims such as this on their website…
There is no upper limit to the level of success you can achieve, it just takes a little bit of elbow grease and hard work.
The irony is that those “new member success stories” rarely, if ever, include a domain name. There seems to be a culture of claims without proof.
The company seems to use this apparent illusion of success to assure affiliates that they do their visitors a service by recommending WA.
The factual proof of this study (which may be reproduced by anyone to verify the results) ends all that. Therefore, to Wealthy Affiliate and all involved…
1) We call upon the company to cease and desist. Your affiliates are posting fake reviews that do a disservice to the solopreneur who has hopes and dreams. S/he wants something bigger and more honorable than being a “make money” pitchman. S/he expects an honest review to recommend the best, and that is clearly not WA, based on study results.
2) To WA affiliates: We believe you have been deceived. Contrary to what your training materials claim, you do your visitors a huge disservice. We ask you to examine your conscience.
Now that you know the truth, are you willing to sell your soul for a few bucks, all to deceive good people with dreams of taking back control of their lives?
In our experience and observation of MMO schemes, there are two types of “make money” affiliates who would sell inferior products….
Sociopaths: People with this personality disorder regard people as objects. They have no moral code other than to do what’s best for them. Sucking other people into bad products is just a game. Consequences don’t matter.
The only consequence that matters is one that involves you. You should research the liability incurred through fake reviews. This study clearly lays out the disservice you perform. “I didn’t know” is no longer a defence.
- Normal people: Many don’t realize that they’re promoting inferior products or don’t really think about it. But, now that you have read this study, stop for a moment and think back to when you were getting started. You needed a mentor and good advice.
Now consider the fact that you’re hurting someone just like you. Are you comfortable with cutting short the dreams of others, just to earn a commission? If so, you fall into the first category, not this one. Normal people are good.
3) To WA customers: We invite you to try SBI!. You’ll find that we don’t just say that we care. All our actions are consistent with that. We believe that you have been dubiously advised, and have inferior (and often out-of-date) information. Wealthy Affiliate clearly underperforms SBI!, and not by a little bit.
Placing only 53 clients (out of 17,000) into the Alexa Top 1,000,000 sites, a good benchmark for success, gives us all a hint about why there’s no proof of success on the Wealthy Affiliate website, as well as why domain names are never revealed in your communications.
High-Traffic of WA Worse Than It First Appears
The average of the 3 measures of WA’s high-traffic success is only 38. When one breaks down these sites into MMO-related vs. non-MMO (“real” niches), the non-MMO underperform compared to MMO sites.
Your chances of success are remote with Wealthy Affiliate, as shown by The Study. Give Solo Build It! a solid effort. You, too, will discover why you are 33X more likely to achieve a high level of success.
Escape and try a product meant to liberate, not entrap, you.