I first checked Rank Crew out with a view to reviewing its service about two months ago, but I wanted to test them fully before I typed it up. I found a few positives, and a lot of negatives, and finally have enough research done to lay it down for you. If you've been thinking about trying it out, this Rank Crew review will let you know whether it's really for you.
Teaser: It probably isn't worth your time or money.
What Is Rank Crew?
Another one of Jon Leger's services for Internet Marketers, Rank Crew is the SEO outsource arm of his business. If you have a site that needs a ranking boost, Rank Crew is the place you go (according to them anyway). For some pretty reasonable prices you can buy various backlink and article submission packages that will increase your site's value without getting penalized.
That's the main point, it's SEO without being spammy.
I've always been wary of SEO services though, because SEO these days is really just a case of optimizing the content on YOUR site, and letting Google worry about ranking it. Yes, the number of links you have to your site contributes to your rank (as long as they are natural and quality links), but it's hard to really automate or outsource this. Rank Crew claims to do all link building manually, which makes it Google proof in theory.
What's cheaper than Rank Crew and actually gets results? Find Out.
The Rank Crew Packages
There are a number of different packages available inside Rank Crew. Let's take a closer look:
The main packages are the two pictured above. There are also smaller packages, which consist of various elements of these ones. You can choose the whole thing, or just choose the Forum Links, the Directory Submissions and so on.
I didn't really see the point of either package if I tell you the truth. Admittedly there would probably be some benefit to your site, but $145 worth? I don't think so. Here's why.
Social bookmarks don't really carry much weight in Google's ranking algorithm anymore. Whether it's 1 submission or 75, it doesn't make much difference. Also suddenly gaining 75 overnight could raise a red flag against your site. Besides, you could do it yourself manually for free over a two week period and it wouldn't really cause you much trouble.
The same can be said for RSS feed submissions, Web directory submissions, and Forum profile links. These things don't really work anymore, each one being responsible for about 0.01% or less of your website's rank. If you have a lot of them, you might gain SOME ranking. Will it be permanent though?
As you can see, I'm not really recommending these methods for gaining back-links and boosting rank, you might be wondering what I DO recommend, and I'll get to that later. For now, let's explore Rank Crew more.
The Web 2.0 Private Blog Network
Another thing that Rank Crew offers is your very own private blog network. For those who don't know, a Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of blogs that you own, and use them to link to your main “money site”. The logic is that these will be back-links you control, and you can optimize them to boost your site well. You also get to control the content and make sure you are linking relevant sites to your main site. It's not exactly black hat, but it's bordering on it. Google works hard to catch this type of link and shuts it down where possible, but if done correctly it is just another way of giving good content to users, just being a bit biased about which site gives it.
Web 2.0 means things like wordpress.com, blogger, tumblr, and other “free” sites. Some people have had a bit of success building a few mini sites on free platforms and linking them to their main site, so I was curious to try it out.
Rank Crew creates 10 sites for you based on keywords and topics you give them, adds 10 articles to each site, then gives you the login details so you can link them to your site as you wish. All of this will cost about $97, which is only $9.70 a site. If you think about it, that alone is kind of suspicious.
10 articles per site means you are only paying $0.97 per article, even less if you consider the site setup fee. That means the articles must be spun, there's no way around it.
Still, curiosity got the better of me, so I forked up the $97 and set about letting them build me a PBN. I was curious how “spun” it would be, and whether or not linking the free sites to one of my experimental sites (not this one, don't worry) would have any affect.
The conclusion? The content is really really spun.
At first I saw some good looking articles, the grammar is good, the information is useful, and people would benefit from reading it. “Great!” I thought.
The problem is, after you've read two or three articles on the site, content starts repeating itself. Some paragraphs are direct copies of one another, and things like “A great tip is to…” start coming up over and over again. It's the same across every site. You've got 100 articles, and each one might be about 90% unique, but there's probably only enough original content to make 5 articles. Not exactly worth $97.
I didn't even bother linking them to my experimental site, because I knew that it would just end up with a Google slap.
I honestly believe that a well-made PBN can be worth thinking about, and isn't necessarily a bad thing in Google's eyes either. If you are creating top quality content across unique sites, and linking them to more quality content, that's what the Internet is supposed to be like. However, the PBN created by Rank Crew does NOT meet that criteria. To learn about real PBN's, visit Jon Haver's site here.
Alternative Product: The Hoth
After I tried Rank Crew for $97, I also tested out The Hoth for $60.
The Hoth's method only provides you with 3 links from web 2.0s rather than 10 links from web 2.0s from Rank Crew, but the main difference is that The Hoth build tier 2 and tier 3 links to those properties.
This means that the link juice you get from those 3 links is 10x more powerful than the Rank Crew links.The difference was apparent in the fact that The Hoth actually boosted my ranks (on two separate occasions) and Rank Crew has still done nothing.
At the end of the day, I'd rather pay $60 for 3 useful links than $97 for 10 worthless links.
Rank Crew Review – My Final Thoughts
This service is essentially an outsourcing service for ranking methods that don't really work anymore. They might be “Google safe”, but does that mean they will really work? If you are interested in boosting your site's rank, I really recommend just growing it organically. Add more pages, share your content on social networks, encourage people to naturally link to your site (write good content), and watch as your site's authority grows.
Things like PBN's can work, but they are so easy to get wrong it's not worth worrying about. As for Rank Crew, don't waste your money like I did, and consider trying The Hoth instead.