The thing I enjoy the most about being an online business owner is this: Nobody can take away what I have built with SBI! - John Shank, SBI! member since 2003

Wealthy Affiliate Review: Proof of Success… or Failure?

SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review: Wealthy Affiliate Proof of Success... or Failure? Part 1

WEALTHY AFFILIATE REVIEW & COMPARISON
Summary & Results

Not everyone has the time to read all 24,000 words that make up this meticulous study’s introduction, methodology, and results. If you are willing to accept the conclusions at face-value, here they are:

Wealthy Affiliate surrogates create fake reviews of Solo Build It! (SBI!). Many disparage SBI! – a few praise it. Whatever the tactic, it is all “bait and switch.” Here’s why:

  • Wealthy Affiliate’s fake reviews about SBI! are found by those searching for information about Solo Build It!
  • The solopreneur believes that s/he is reading a legitimate review. S/he is actually entering a Wealthy Affiliate “sales funnel.”
  • The affiliates recommend Wealthy Affiliate as the best (without any proof of success to support the claim).
  • Affiliates earn a large commission for each sale.

But is the recommendation true? Does Wealthy Affiliate truly represent the best chance of building a profitable online business?

To answer that, we designed a study that is objective, rigorous, statistically significant and reproducible by anyone. It is based on data from Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush.

Results

Wealthy Affiliate has approximately 17,000 active, hosted sites while Solo Build It! has approximately 10,000. The study found that:

  • SBI! Sites are 33 times (33X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.
  • SBI! Sites are 10 times (10X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.
  • The only category where Wealthy Affiliate “beats” SBI! is in the worst level of failure, “Invisible” (i.e., they get no detectable traffic). 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites are “Invisible.”

The superiority of SBI! is so high that these results will seem unbelievable to some. We repeated the study one month later with near-identical results. We invite others to repeat the test, too (see Part 2 for how).

Takeaway Conclusions & Lessons

  1. Solo Build It! gives you a 10-33X higher chance of success. Wealthy Affiliate cuts your chances by more than 90%.
  2. Beware of fake reviews. Watch for “Bait and switch.”
  3. SBI! has always proven success, made verifiable by including domains. This study is the ultimate in head-to-head proof.
  4. Wealthy Affiliate provides zero proof of success – it and its affiliates claim success repeatedly, but none offer verifiable proof.
  5. Insist on domains to verify claims. Domains allow you to:
    • use a whois tool to verify where a site is hosted
    • check traffic using Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush
    • review the site
    • contact the owner

THAT is verifiability. Insist on domains – ignore claims.
After all, it’s your future, your vision and goals, your time that is at stake!


This summary requires your trust. If you have doubts, please read all 3 Parts. We invite comments and questions!

The 3 Parts: SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review: Wealthy Affiliate Proof of Success… or Failure?

Part 1: Fake Reviews, Our Response and A Peek At The Truth (You are here)
Part 2: The Study: Objective, Rigorous, Statistically Significant & Reproducible 
Part 3: Full Results and Final Summary & Conclusion

At Sitesell (SBI!), we are always improving our methods and tools to better serve our customers. Since launching SBI! in 2002, we have taken great pride in enabling more solopreneurs to build profitable businesses than any other product.

Even two $50,000 challenges have failed to surface a business that delivers higher levels of proven success, in some verifiable way, such as how we prove it.

So when a Wealthy Affiliate review claims that they have a better system than ours, it piques our interest. When we found two more reviews making that claim, we started to dig. We didn’t stop until we hit the truth.

In this first part, we’ll cover:

Ready? Let’s get started.

Introduction

A company called Wealthy Affiliate (WA) has affiliates who have written countless reviews promoting WA. The claims, lacking any proof of success, were dubious.

We became interested, however, when we discovered reviews by them about Solo Build It!, posts that rank in the Top 10 at Google. The first two were a curiosity, but we soon discovered many more.

It struck us as odd that there should be so many, so we checked for Wealthy Affiliate reviews for our pre-rebranding name, “Site Build It!.” These reviews virtually dominate those search results. The “reviews” of our product were basically excuses for content that ultimately linked to the Wealthy Affiliate website and/or the affiliate’s Wealthy Affiliate review, claiming it to be superior to SBI!.

The majority follow a similar format…
Bogus Comparison Chart - Wealthy Affiliate Review

  • They “review” SBI! using various approaches (from attacking SBI! with untruths and concluding it’s “useless” to a seemingly objective review, calling it “good”).
  • Some use the identical “Wealthy Affiliate vs. SBI!” product comparison table (see right).
  • No matter what they conclude about SBI!, useless or good, they end with their “#1 Recommendation” link to Wealthy Affiliate, “the best.”

The “bait-and-switch fake review” is a well-known affiliate strategy. We wondered, at first, if this was a couple of rogue affiliates (for an honest company). It soon became clear that this was a campaign initiated by the company itself.

So we headed over to the Wealthy Affiliate website to find out more…

Reviewing the Wealthy Affiliate Website

Wealthy Affiliate Review

We recognized the company…

  1. It first released its product in 2005, using an approach that was superficially similar to our C T P M approach. We weren’t concerned — it was just another “make money” product where almost all clients would fail.
  2. Their new headline message “Turn Your Passion into a Thriving Online Business” has drifted from “Become a Wealthy Affiliate.” They seem to be positioning themselves as a more direct competitor.
  3. Sidebar: We have increasingly emphasized important messaging that “site business” in recent years. That culminated with our commitment to the solopreneur with our 2017 rebrand from “Site Build It!” to “Solo Build It!.”
  4. They claim to have “over 800,000 Internet Entrepreneurs.” Almost 1M?
  5. Their sales copy suggests an approach that’s superficially similar in concept to ours. Examination of its product’s materials, though, showed it hadn’t evolved substantially, with out-of-date content…
  6. Old names of products renamed several years before
  7. Missing coverage of important new material
  8. Failure to revise material to reflect recent developments.
  9. It remains closer to C T P M, circa 2006.

Despite the new headline, all seemed superficial, behind the times and still mostly affiliate-focused…

The “Success” section of their website makes vague comments such as “There are 1,000’s of people succeeding every day within Wealthy Affiliate.” But there’s no way for the reader to verify that claim of success, nor does Wealthy Affiliate try to provide any.

Activity FeedThe home page does, though, show a stream of non-success-generating activity, incentivized by rules and rewards (e.g., must post 2 site reviews before being able to ask for 1).

In fact, though, activities such as creating a new profile blog post, asking and answering questions, creating blog posts within your own Wealthy Affiliate account…

They all create new content for the company, which increases its traffic, but does nothing for the solopreneur.

How big is the impact? Of 366,000 Wealthy Affiliate pages that are indexed by Google, only 45 are created by the company.

So all that activity you see on the home page? It’s mostly non-productive work that creates success by capturing increasing Google search traffic… for WA. It’s clever. We have nothing against indexing information if people are aware of it. But…

Incentivizing people into activities that are sub-optimal use of their time (“time” being the solopreneur’s most precious resource) is not in the best interests of the client. You should not have to do 1 site review, let alone 2, before asking for 1. And, one must ask, what is the quality of a review when you have to “give 2 to get 1”?

Not an impressive way to start.

Meanwhile, on the Success page…

  1. There’s no mention of a single successful client.
  2. Their “forums” do not display domain names.

Affiliate “reviews” talk about success, too, but offer no verifiable proof.

Providing domain names is the simplest way to enable verification. The reader can check ballpark traffic by using Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush. Even ardent Alexa-haters would agree that if WA’s sites were mostly >20,000,000 at Alexa, with only 50 having enough traffic to rank <1,000,000 (Top 1M), that would be poor.

Sidebar: Alexa is the most widely misunderstood and maligned product in all of Internet Marketing. See our Alexa review for the definitive word on this useful tool. You’ll find that Alexa is surprisingly useful — if you know when and how to use it.

Not only does Wealthy Affiliate not provide any verifiable proof of online business success, we only found 2* affiliate reviews that provided domain names (most do not). Ironically, both do more harm than good to WA’s claim of success…

  1. Of its 16 “success stories,” one only provided domain names for two sites. But those two were not WA-hosted sites.
  2. The other provided a list of 40 sites. Many of those had Alexa and SW ranks >10M, >20M and even >30M, and/or with SEMrush of 0. Of the 40, only 4 were in the Top 1M with good SEMrush scores and hosted at WA. If those 40 sites = success, this was a review working very hard to work with very little.

* Curiously, there were a few other reviews with the identical lists. Compare this to the many different types of genuine SBI! proof, none of which are failures.

SBI!, like WA, has its own sitebuilder. Those who use it must host with us (Name Servers NS1.SITESELL.COM and NS2.SITESELL.COM). Wealthy Affiliate uses Name Servers NS1.MYWAHOSTING.COM and NS2.MYWAHOSTING.COM.

It’s possible to be a “customer” of both products without using the sitebuilders, but it’s sub-optimal. For the purposes of this discussion and the subsequent study, we define “paid customer” as someone who uses the product fully, including the builder.

Our interest was indeed piqued. Could Wealthy Affiliate in fact be outperforming us? Why would they not provide verifiable proof of success, as we do? And why were all those affiliates using morally dubious “fake reviews” to bait-and-switch to WA.

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

What are the odds that so many pages that claim to recommend SBI! all follow the format and process of the Wealthy Affiliate affiliate training materials, do little to recommend SBI! except in generalities or rehashes of other reviews, and finally choose WA as “#1?”

Remote.

The disconnect between Wealthy Affiliate claims and lack of proof intrigued us. Think about it…

If you sold a product that truly enabled people to lose weight, run faster, or be cured of a medical problem at a greater rate, wouldn’t you provide lots of verifiable proof? “Before and After.” Medical studies. Lottery winners.

Whatever the field, proof is a powerful marketing tool.

​Sadly, fake reviews are becoming all too prevalent on the internet today. CBC News has done multiple stories on the growing problem, and they actually have some advice on how to spot them:

Delving Deeper

Since both Wealthy Affiliate and reviews by WA affiliates failed to prove success, and since our reputation was under attack, we became determined to discover the truth.

This 3-part series, culminating in a never-before-performed study, exposes an elaborate and long-standing scheme that seems to have misled thousands (perhaps tens of thousands since 2005) down the road of dashed dreams…

  1. Part 1 (which you’re reading now) lays out the elaborate Wealthy Affiliate fake review program. It closes with a “taste” of The Study’s results. The difference from WA’s claims is astounding.
  2. Part 2 focuses mostly on the construction of The Study itself. It’s important because a serious study such as this one must be objective, rigorous, statistically significant and reproducible by third parties (i.e., you can perform the same process to derive your own results).
  3. Part 3 provides the full results of The Study, with discussion. We have provided a small peek at its results near the end of today’s post (Part 1). The full results yield startling conclusions and raise profound questions that go beyond this particular instance that casts shame on our industry.

Before getting into the study (aka “The Truth”), it’s necessary to set some contextual background information to fully appreciate its importance…

Wealthy Affiliate uses a superficially similar approach to SBI! and professes to care about its users. Was the “busy work” activity (above) that serves WA’s business interests so well just an anomaly? Let’s scratch the surface.

Wealthy Affiliate lures you in with a “free” version that includes “two free sites.” Those are two subdomain sites (e.g., subdomain.siterubix.com*), where you join thousands of others on a single domain.

*Siterubix is the name of WA’s site-building system laid on top of WordPress.

You have near-zero chance of traffic with free subdomains such as these, let alone success, yet its affiliate training program claims that this freemium is better than paid programs. This, we knew, could not be true…

It has no value to the person who signs up. The free functionality and training materials are meager, access to most materials restricted. You will be upsold to the paid system in a relentless manner.

Comparison: SBI! provides full access to all materials and tools. It even includes a free domain name in its 90-day trial period, risk-free due to its guarantee. We don’t waste your time with freemium come-ons.

In the first Wealthy Affiliate Certification Course (similar to SBI!’s Action Guide), they advised the new would-be business-builder…

Please do not spend a week choosing your niche. Within the next 15-30 minutes (maximum) you should have your ‘starting point’ niche chosen.Wealthy Affiliate

The Damage of Bait and Switch

Consider the fate of a would-be solopreneur with important reasons for starting an online business. Interested in SBI!, s/he searches for reviews. She finds pages that s/he believes to be reviews but are bait-and-switch sales pages for WA.

With some help, such as we provide, s/he could have found a “real” (non-“make money”) niche to build a site and business to be proud about… a business with profits, one that builds equity. Instead…

“Make money” is a difficult and demoralizing niche. There are loads of “dark side” and sophisticated marketers out there. They will recommend anything to you for a buck, they’ll make it sound good, and they’re pros at ranking high in search results.

We advise SBIers to stay away from that niche for three reasons…

  1. You’ll do better in a niche that you know and love.
  2. The more you see of the “make money” niche, the more distasteful it becomes.
  3. There are fewer pros in your niche, if any.

In short, you will not only do better in a niche that you truly care about, your chances of building a long-term business that generates significant cash flow and grows in value (equity) soar.

The damage that bait-and-switch tactics do to human beings with the courage to try, the willingness to work to succeed, to acquire some freedom and self-reliance cannot be measured. We find the bait-and-switch practice shameful.

That’s why our advice is the opposite — find the right niche!

So please — find a topic that you know and love. Work in joy and build a business that you’re proud to show your friends and family.

We provide strategies and tools to help the solopreneur. If it takes weeks to find, refine, position, and investigate its commercial potential, that’s fine. This upfront work pays huge dividends later on.

Or does it? Could we be wrong? The study will answer, but thinking it through…

Who benefits from the subtle, but strong, push of new solopreneurs into “make money? Having seen how the advice works to the detriment of the Wealthy Affiliate user, it’s not the solopreneurs who win. But it’s easy to see how Wealthy Affiliate benefits…

Reviewing the Affiliate Program of Wealthy Affiliate

How strong is that push? Over ⅓ of the Wealthy Affiliate sites are either about “make money” or “make money online” (“MMO”) — or they’re related to the topic (e.g., affiliate marketing, how to sell e-books, or how to do social media). On the other hand, almost all SBI! sites are about what we will call “real” niches.

What’s a “real” niche? Folks who search on “real” niches (e.g., Caribbean cruising, exotic tortoises, debt consolidation) are not looking for information to help them build an online business. They’re planning vacations, or researching how to breed a specific type of tortoise, or they want to know how to deal with debt.

In our experience, the vast majority of solopreneurs know something about something well enough to create content that others want to know. But when it comes to MMO, they…

  • know little about the topic
  • are not ready to compete with the minority who do know some aspect of the topic (e.g., email marketing)
  • have next to no chance of ranking against the even smaller fraction who really excel at it
  • would do far better at a niche they know (e.g., Caribbean cruising, exotic tortoises, debt consolidation).

Nevertheless, over ⅓ drift into “make money” (on the guidance of Wealthy Affiliate) instead of being challenged and helped to find a higher-potential “real” niche. The natural progression is that they are then moved toward the WA affiliate program…

  1. The commissions are high and recurring.
  2. Wealthy Affiliate “fits” with just about any topic related to MMO.
  3. Wealthy Affiliate advises them repeatedly to write reviews about competing or related products, then conclude with an affiliate link to WA.
  4. They assure the affiliate over and over that they are indeed the best, that they do their visitors a service to share that information.
  5. Finally, they become highly motivated by a free trip to Las Vegas if they reach certain sales targets. Few make it.

Wealthy Affiliate has again served their own best interests. They have created the perfect, circular, self-propagating marketing system. Let’s review.

Wealthy Affiliate, a “make money” business, sells a “make money” business opportunity to people who are “pushed” into a niche related to “make money,” for which it’s natural to write “make money” reviews or articles, which appear real to unsuspecting visitors, thereby continuing the “vicious circle.”

The Wealthy Affiliate “reviews” that rank highly are expertly written — this is “cream of the cream” material. The information itself, though, is dubious or outright wrong, at least when it comes to SBI!.

It’s written so convincingly that the uninformed can’t see through the false, twisted or exaggerated information. It’s especially convincing when so many other reviews (also from Wealthy Affiliate affiliates) come to the same conclusion.

We mentioned the pattern of these reviews at the beginning of this article. There are so many of them that they drown out the occasional story of how SBI! has truly impacted a life in an amazing way. Speaking of those…

Contrary to Wealthy Affiliate users, SBI! members write about “real” niches. So they have no financial reason to write about SBI!…

  1. Their sites attract visitors searching for information about “real” niches. Few of those visitors, if any, are thinking of starting a business.
  2. While some SBIers do write about their experience with SBI! and how it has changed their lives, it’s not for the money. They realize that the conversion rate will be very low (for the above reason).
  3. Only a small number of SBI! stories rank in search results for “review” keywords. It’s because their sites are considered authorities (by Google ) for their niches, not for niches related to MMO.

We Call This the “Anti-Circle”

SBIers succeed more frequently and at higher rates than any other group of solopreneurs. They produce value to get value, and build profitable businesses that grow equity.

The Wealthy Affiliate “make money” system is a self-feeding, circular “buy make-money” to “sell make-money” game. These sites add little value and most fail. The low percent who generate fake reviews that rank actually create negative value for their visitors, who are lured into an inferior “make money” system.

It’s an ironic problem that we need to solve. SBIers, who build sites about REAL niches, attract visitors interested in that niche, not about “making money online.”

People searching for reviews of SBI! are, therefore, flooded with fake reviews. We realize their need to find real reviews by real SBIers who explain how SBI! has been critical in creating their high-value, profitable and joyful businesses. Therefore…

As of early May, 2017, we have asked SBIers to share their stories on their sites, emphasizing clearly not to expect much financial return if they use affiliate links.

We asked them this because we believe Wealthy Affiliate’s fake reviews are immoral actions that threaten the future of the only product that enables everyday solopreneurs to do extraordinary things. We hope to see some SBIers’ review pages rank, despite their lack of MMO authority (i.e., SBIers avoid these niches).

SBIers know that they will earn little by writing their reviews and experiences with SBI!. They write their reviews to support a product they love, the last bastion of everyday solopreneurship and proven success. What about Wealthy Affiliate affiliates?

Do Wealthy Affiliate’s Affiliates Believe Their Reviews?

So far, we have found no proof of success among many Wealthy Affiliate sites. We have found several reasons why they should fail. While our research raised our suspicions, The Study reveals the comprehensive success vs. failure truths for both SBI! and WA.

Wealthy Affiliate must know its own internal data of how dismally their clients perform, overall. And they should realize that, even though they have 70% more active sites than us, they cannot come close to matching the cumulative proof we present on our own website, even though that is only part of our success story.

Wealthy Affiliate claims on their “success” page that “there are new member success stories being posted”, and that there are “1,000’s of people succeeding every day within Wealthy Affiliate.” They then go on to talk about the 2.8 billion buyers online in an effort to overwhelm with numbers, rather than review actual success rates or real solopreneur stories.

All this raises the obvious question…

How aware are Wealthy Affiliate clients and affiliates of this reality? How many clients know that they have been misled regarding success? Do affiliates know that they are not “doing a good service for their visitors?” Do they realize that they are far more likely to dash the dreams and goals of real people who dare to try?

We have discovered why Wealthy Affiliate affiliates really seem to believe what they write. The WA training materials repeatedly assure them that their product is the best… over and over again until the affiliates believe it.

That untruth is then magnified thousands of times by affiliates, many of whom we believe do not know better. They beat down competitors with what are fake reviews, a major problem (even if they don’t realize it).

Is WA’s high commission the driver of Wealthy Affiliate reviews? That depends. it’s either…

  • “the cherry on top” bonus for those who truly believe they’re doing solopreneurs a service.

-OR-

  • the driving force, for those who may not believe that Wealthy Affiliate is better and who do not care (or who do not care to investigate more deeply, given the promised payments… if they make a sale). As long as the truth is murky, “it’s all good.”

But What If the Truth Comes Out?

Our own interest in this subject evolved from curiosity to disbelief to anger about underhanded techniques. Wealthy Affiliate affiliate reviews attack more than our long-term viability. While profits grow our ability to accelerate the SBI! Advantage, it’s SBI!’s human impact that fuels us all.

That undermines the viability of our core belief upon which SBI! was created…

We believe that if we clear the obstacles, everyday solopreneurs with BAM are capable of far more than they could have realized. Many start SBI! with doubts.

Boiling this down to its deeper ramifications…

Wealthy Affiliate attacks successful everyday solopreneurship by establishing a tightening choke hold at the final point of decision. The under-informed pre-customer, expecting honest reviews, is virtually defenceless against this approach.

With hundreds or thousands of reviews out there, all coming to the same conclusion (“Wealthy Affiliate is #1”), we’re reminded of a famous quote (right)…

Would-be solopreneurs who seek information have no way of knowing what the truth is.

Lenin Quote - Wealthy Affiliate ReviewGiven the number of fake reviews, all making the same “recommendation,” they conclude Wealthy Affiliate is best. Repetition does seem to confirm Lenin’s famous quote.

But Is Wealthy Affiliate Truly #1?

Our existing proof, compared to Wealthy Affiliate’s lack of proof, raises serious questions about Wealthy Affiliate. The Study answers them, as you’ll soon see. The answer is obvious…

Solopreneurs who make the wrong choice unknowingly suffer a large decrease in the likelihood of success, right at the moment of purchase. The Study’s results are important because…

  1. The human cost to people who are fooled by “bait-and-switch” to Wealthy Affiliate is high. The Study shows that 87% of those using Wealthy Affiliate fail at its worst level.
    Note: If you are a Wealthy Affiliate customer and you’re failing, too, switch to SBI!. Like other ex-Wealthy Affiliate users who now use SBI!, you’ll find the difference striking.
  2. Most Wealthy Affiliate affiliates are likely not aware of the damage they do. We openly call upon them to examine their hearts after reading The Study. We invite you, the Wealthy Affiliate affiliate, to do the right thing after reviewing it…

    Support SBI! instead. It pays less, that’s true. (We pass those savings on to SBIers, keeping its price as accessible as possible.)

    If you have Top 10 rankings, we’ll organize 1-to-1s or small, live webinars to answer your questions. Contact SiteSell Support for more information.

  3. Wealthy Affiliate threatens the future of “everyday solopreneurship.” This is the most important damage of all.
On a Personal Note: Personally speaking, if I ever did encounter a clearly superior product at a similar price, run by good people who believe that they only succeed if their solopreneurs do, I would, after discussion with SBIers, arrange with that company to migrate SBIers and SiteSellers to it, ideally with the click of a button.

Pre-SBI! ventures have treated me well. SBI! was never about the money. It was the ultimate experiment, a bet on the individual and concepts such as freedom and self-reliance. However, my wife of 40 years has been patient for far too long. So the day after the last SBIer was transferred to good hands that will continue the concept of successful everyday solopreneurship…

Janice and I will be back to our joint passion. We’ll be on the first jet to someplace far, far away. ✈ 😃

But are we telling the truth? Even my personal note could be a con. After all, this space is a quagmire of clever tricks. And most folks have waded through the muck to reach the search results at Google for “Solo Build It! review.” Consider this…

We have presented more verifiable proof of success than anyone else. There’s little room for “trickery” when we present a combination of proof that illustrates…

  1. volume (500 sites in the Top 1M of all active sites — 170M!).
  2. longevity (case studies that stick with the same businesses for as many as 10 years or more, posting their occasional update).
    (We’re proud to say that two have recently realized the equity in their business by selling some or all of each. There’s little if any equity in “make money.”)
  3. new, current stories from our blog, with a focus on the human aspect of what it means to build a profitable business based on a subject you love (it angers us to think of what their stories could have been with Wealthy Affiliate).

This proof alone is especially convincing because no company, not even Wix and its 2.7 million paid sites (source: quarterly earnings report) matches that. Still, this form of presentation does not tell the whole story. What about failure, you may ask?

Wealthy Affiliate sparked our desire for a study that reviews every active site at both Wealthy Affiliate and SBI!. Head-to-head, company-to-company, “marketese” eliminated, what would such a comparison look like, warts and all?

We’re About to Find Out!

Yes, we’re getting closer to the Study and SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate results.

Meanwhile, we should state the obvious for greater clarity. Even before the Study, we found enough evidence to conclude that these reviews were not the work of rogue affiliates. Wealthy Affiliate not only knows what’s happening, it’s training/encouraging much of it. The plethora of fake reviews by WA affiliates confirms the intent.

So when we talk about Wealthy Affiliate promoting itself as being the best, we mean that they do so indirectly, using affiliates. They promote themselves as the best to their affiliates, who in turn magnify the message a thousand-fold, seeming to believe it (we feel that most do believe the Wealthy Affiliate claims).

This affiliate action is widespread and done with Wealthy Affiliate’s knowledge. It’s Wealthy Affiliate’s claim, without any evidence to support it, that is multiplied and blankets Google search results with fake reviews.

This study will settle that claim conclusively.

So Where Is SBI! Inferior?

Our weakness lies, ironically, in our strength…

We do not have a circular system like Wealthy Affiliate. We have no “make money” business that sells a “make money” product to those “pushed” into a niche related to “make money,” for which it’s natural to write “make money”-related reviews or articles, which appear real to unsuspecting visitors, who purchase that “make money” product and so continues the “vicious circle.”

“Real niche” businesses (e.g., about Anguilla) have clients who are not searching for online business info (e.g., they’re planning a vacation). Instead of Wealthy Affiliate’s circular system that produces (it could be argued) negative value by recommending an inferior product, we have the “anti-circle” — clients have no business need to write a review, let alone an SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate review.

The whole Wealthy Affiliate system is, we must admit, clever — in an immoral way. It comes at a heavy cost…

  1. It does a disservice to the solopreneur-customer and to all affiliates with a conscience (once they know the truth, for the reasons outlined above). It’s nice to be proud of the business you build, to sleep well at night.
  2. Wealthy Affiliate contributes heavily to the increasing problem of fake reviews. While this is a growing problem for every niche, business or consumer, WA affiliates virtually blanket the “Internet Marketing products” space.

    Many respected pundits consider “make money” and “affiliate marketing” to be a particular problem. Consumer protection groups and government bodies are looking to legislation to address the issues. Meanwhile, all of us in this general space take a hit while cynicism rises among prospective clients.

  3. Little or nothing of value is contributed to the amazing diversity that solopreneurs bring to the Web.

Solopreneur “Cake Fairy” Shows You How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too - Wealthy Affiliate ReviewThe Fortune 500 do not make the Internet what it is. Solopreneurs do — the “Fortune 5,000,000!” Sharing your unique knowledge not only adds what you know to this infinitely diverse ecosystem, your content is of value to others (who search for it).

Those searches for your knowledge, along with your social media component, can be converted into an honest, valuable and joyful business. Instead, many Wealthy Affiliate solopreneurs focus their precious time on luring others into “make money opportunities.” That’s likely not what many anticipated when starting out.

In summary, Wealthy Affiliate, by moving new recruits into “make money,” has created an affiliate-written, review-generating machine with which a tiny number of sites dominate the rankings. Whatever they write about SBI!, Wealthy Affiliate seems to justify it to them through heavy repetition of being the best. After all…

If you say it often enough, it must be true.

A very small percent of solopreneurs can make this work. The rest make little to nothing. But the incentivized, frenetic activity keeps them excited, well beyond the time that they should see the writing on the wall.

While The Study should be expected to show that a much higher percentage of SBIers succeed (if the above logic holds true), we have created the anti-circular system, one where the visitors to SBI! sites do not come seeking online business info.

How Do We Respond to All the Affiliate Claims?

We don’t need to, thanks to The Study.

We should warn you of two general approaches of many of these fake reviews…

  1. “Fair” These seem to be objective, balanced and fair. They may not be up-to-date (which suggests pulling information from old reviews by others). Overall, they’ll say that SBI! is “good”… “except Wealthy Affiliate is best.”
  2. “Unfair” These use an amazing range of claims that go from lies to exaggerations and twisting of half-truths; from molehills turned into mountains to “assumption jumpers” (take a small fact and make a huge incorrect conclusion without knowing the facts).

It really doesn’t matter what the content is because these are not actually “reviews” in the true and expected sense of that word. They amount to Wealthy Affiliate sales pages.

Debating just creates more smoke. This study seeks the truth by blowing away the smoke. A hard data study that can be replicated by anyone, one that delivers a clear winner based purely on the data, eliminates debate. Just send them The Study…

THAT reveals the truth in a single breath of fresh air.

Summary of the Background for the SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review

Initially, we wondered if Wealthy Affiliate had truly found a better way. The more we dug into this before the study, the more we smelled something wrong.

There’s a lot wrong. They have developed what appears to be a superficial copy of the SBI! process of C T P M. Next, it looks like they corrupted our total focus on success with policies and approaches that work to their advantage but to the solopreneur’s disadvantage.

As a company dedicated to solopreneurs since 1997, we took umbrage with that. The study, comparing actual traffic results of all SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate sites, is much more than just “who’s-best” bragging rights.

We undertake and publish this to (hopefully)…

  1. restore our reputation
  2. “vaccinate” those who find those fake reviews
  3. assure potential new SBI! members that your best choice is SBI!. The difference in our already-existing proof makes you wonder, “where’s theirs?

    But the head-to-head Study is overwhelmingly clear. Those with unshakeable ulterior motives will try to find fault with it. I look forward to debating that.

  4. provide thought-provoking, data-proven facts to convince Wealthy Affiliate’s customers that their best future lies with SBI!.
  5. reveal reality to those honest Wealthy Affiliate affiliates who promote Wealthy Affiliate because they truly believe the repeated claims. It seems you were misled…

  6. If you have Top 10 rankings, we’ll organize 1-to-1s or small, live webinars to answer your questions. Contact SiteSell Support for more information.

If this study shows SBI! to be as conclusively superior as we claim, Wealthy Affiliate affiliates will be faced with decisions…

“Do I reject this behavior and leave a program that puts my reputation at risk?”

“Can I live with now knowingly misleading my visitors to a less effective program?”

Those who continue to knowingly send innocent people to an inferior product now “own it.” These are fellow human beings with solopreneur dreams and goals, too. They deserve better. Also…

Check with an attorney in your own state or country regarding how much liability you carry if honesty does not matter to you (read this example lawsuit). We have no intent of suing any individual affiliate (barring outrageous defamation), but some of the other 175 competitors from a list received from Wealthy Affiliate may not feel the same.

So, let’s get to the BIG question of the day…

Is SBI! Truly Inferior to WA, As Claimed by So Many “Reviews”?

Before the final discussion, here’s a sample of the results…

  1. SBI! places 2,200% (Alexa), 3,340% (SimilarWeb) and 4,280% (SEMrush) more sites into the Top 1,000,000 sites than Wealthy Affiliate. That’s way more than our estimates (400-500%).

    If you’re not a numbers person, that means 22X, 33X and 43X better. And that comes to an average (Alexa, SW and SEMrush) of 33x better.

  2. In the bar chart below, you see bar couples for each range of Alexa traffic rankings. SBI! is blue. Wealthy Affiliate is red, and each couple adds up to 100%. In other words, you see how much of each traffic ranking range (e.g., 0-100K) is “owned” by SBI! and WA.

Share of Alexa Rank Ranges - Wealthy Affiliate Review

For example…

  • SBI! “owns” 96% and 98% of the 0-100K and 100K-200K brackets, nearly unattainably high traffic for a solopreneur.
  • SBI! owns more than 95% of each 100K bracket until 900K-1M.
  • SBI! owns more than 80% of each bracket from 900K-1M until 4-5M.

Important: This chart shows absolute numbers, uncorrected for the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has 70% more sites. So the above results are 70% stronger than they look.

  • Finally, we get to the worst level. Alexa >30M correlates with SimilarWeb > 30M and SEMrush of 0 (zero). This is the only bracket where Wealthy Affiliate significantly “passes” SBI! — the worst traffic level possible (>30M). Wealthy Affiliate excels only at failure.

The bar chart speaks for itself. The pattern, for those who like math, shows that Wealthy Affiliate’s numbers have a “power curve” distribution. It levels out towards 0% at the highest levels of success, grows slowly and then starts to grow geometrically until we reach the worst level of traffic (i.e., none, basically). We suspect that, if Alexa went as high as 50M, Wealthy Affiliate would “own” 100% — just a mathematical speculation, for those so inclined.

In fact, in our subsequent study of GoDaddy, we found that GoDaddy members, who get no additional training or guidance, still do better than Wealthy Affiliate members!

While GoDaddy sites were found to be 10X less likely to achieve outstanding levels of traffic compared to Solo Build It! sites, Wealthy Affiliate members were found to be 33X less likely to achieve those levels!

In other words, GoDaddy users did over 3X better than WA.

That speaks volumes to the questionable validity of the information Wealthy Affiliate provides, and the complete waste of time the encouraged activities represent. Folks are truly more successful going off on their own, than to follow the Wealthy Affiliate program.

Here’s what we can say conclusively, based upon this…

  1. SBI! dominates at success.
  2. Wealthy Affiliate dominates at failure.

Note: The study was performed identically for all SBI! and Wealthy Affiliate sites using Alexa. It was repeated using Similar Web and SEMrush, for which the results were even more favorable.

Conclusions of the SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review

  1. Wealthy Affiliate appears to be misleading its customers with claims of success..
  2. Wealthy Affiliate also seems to mislead its affiliates with repeated assurances that they do their visitors a service when recommending people to Wealthy Affiliate in their “SBI! reviews.” We suspect that many would not be morally comfortable with their recommendations if they knew the truth.

Wealthy Affiliate’s fake SBI! “reviews” get found at Google by folks searching for reviews about us. The content is designed to send those visitors to Wealthy Affiliate directly or to the affiliates WA review (glowing, of course)…

We know this deceitful strategy is successful due to the decrease in our conversion rate. Prospective SBI! clients who chose Wealthy Affiliate due to this, as you can see above, significantly diminish their chance of success and greatly increase the odds of failure.

We detest being used to fool solopreneurs into choosing Wealthy Affiliate. They preach success (without proving it) and (per The Study) they deliver failure (an average of 87% of their sites are Alexa >30M, SW >30M or are 0 [zero traffic] at SEMrush). At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s near-zero real success (53 sites in the Alexa Top 1M out of almost 17,000 active sites).

 Solopreneur Income - Wealthy Affiliate ReviewFinally, while numbers don’t lie, this is really about the people behind those numbers. It’s important to put a human face on this…

Imagine the people we feature on our blog failing dismally in a niche they despise, trying to mislead others into “make money.”

We sincerely hope that Wealthy Affiliate stops their misleading marketing techniques that are putting a choke hold on the only company that makes “everyday solopreneurship” a reality.

We invite Wealthy Affiliate clients to join SBI!. If you’re one of the very few customers who succeed at Wealthy Affiliate, congratulations! We invite the vast majority who are failing to come over to SBI! for a much greater shot at success.

To Wealthy Affiliate affiliates with ranking SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate reviews, please contact us through Support if you would like to do the right thing. We would be happy to work with you to set the record straight.

And finally, to all with the heart of a solopreneur, if you want to build an online business to achieve goals that matter to you, ignore those fake reviews and start with SBI! now. We can’t be sure that it’s right for you, but the 90-Day Guarantee….

  1. gives you total access to all of SBI!, including a free domain name (instead of 2 useless free subdomains that waste your time by giving you only partial access, while upselling you to the paid product)
  2. provides more than enough time to understand what we’re all about, and see how you’re going to achieve what so many others do.
  3. makes your attempt totally risk-free.

Get started today. You may have lost time, the solopreneur’s most precious asset, up until now. It’s gone. But it’s never too late…

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb

Start a REAL Business Today!

Watch for Part 2 (Monday) and Part 3 (Tuesday)…

  1. Part 1 laid out the elaborate Wealthy Affiliate fake review program. It closes with a “taste” of The Study’s results. These show how much reality differs from Wealthy Affiliate claims. SBI! dominates at every level of success. Wealthy Affiliate excels only at failure.
  2. Part 2 focuses mostly on the construction of The Study itself. It’s important because a serious study such as this one must be objective, rigorous, statistically significant and reproducible by third parties (i.e., you can perform the same process to derive your own results).
  3. Part 3 provides the full results of The Study, with discussion. We have provided only a small peek above. The full results vindicate our claim that no other product delivers solopreneurial success like SBI!. That turns out to be secondary, sadly…

The methods employed and the “claim-vs.-reality delta” raises the question whether Wealthy Affiliate crosses the boundary between “hyperbolic marketing” and fraud. The full results raise several more important questions that go beyond this particular instance, issues that cast shame on our industry.

This has spawned two new directions that our blog will be exploring…

  1. Fake Reviews: an in-depth look at this widespread and growing problem.
  2. Solopreneurial Success vs. Failure: we deep-dive into this under-studied but important topic. There’s a great deal of excellent information to help the solo entrepreneur, but how do they actually do and what can we do to improve both their rates and levels of business success?

Continue on to Part 2 and learn more about this objective, rigorous, statistically significant & reproducible study.

The 3 Parts: SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review: Wealthy Affiliate Proof of Success… or Failure?

Part 1: Fake Reviews, Our Response and A Peek At The Truth (You are here)
Part 2: The Study: Objective, Rigorous, Statistically Significant & Reproducible 
Part 3: Full Results and Final Summary & Conclusion

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

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