Build a successful online business with WordPress.
I was quite impressed by the number of articles and tools provided but after a few hours of browsing I realized that the whole system really comes down to building a big information website in the hope of getting large amounts of search traffic from Google by using a keyword tool to find profitable keywords to write about.
This idea has been around for ages, and although it was doable in its heyday, very few people are making any money out of it now. Despite the amount of stuff in here, there is just nothing to protect yourself from an overnight collapse in Google traffic. And that's if you get it in the first place, which is very very hard nowadays.
Also, there doesn't seem to be any tools to help you create products, which they say is supposed to be the whole point of getting the traffic in the first place.
I install this plugin and find it is just a temporary trial of SBI which costs $150 a year.
Sorrry, not interested AT ALL.
What does this even have to do with wordpress!!??
This is a tricky plugin to review since it is difficult to know what it is exactly that is to be reviewed.
The developer has stated that this plugin implements a web service, and I see that two moderators have now emphasized that it is the PLUGIN rather than the SERVICE that is to reviewed here.
To make matters more complicated, some reviewers (especially those giving 5 star reviews) not only seem to be reviewing the SERVICE rather than the PLUGIN, but are reviewing the PAID service, rather than the FREE one which comes with this plugin.
I hope my review helps to both disambiguate and clarify a little for prospective customers.
bizXpress the FREE PLUGIN
As a plugin (neglecting what is on the other end of it), it is difficult to say much because, as others have pointed out, it is essentially a page of links to a service host, and that service can be accessed independantly of the plugin.
Other than to say that the links worked, the only thing I can add is that this functionality is already built into every browser under a menu called "Bookmarks" (or something similar), so we hardly need another way to do it. Besides, I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that when I want to visit another site my fingers automatically want to 'alt-tab' to another page rather than look for the links in my WP install.
It is also important for all WP beginners to know that you should always try to minimize the number of plugins you use, and this means making sure that each plugin has an important purpose that can't easily be obtained a better way. Besides the hassle of updates, each new plugin increases the probability of conflicts, which can cause headaches far more painful than regular updates.
Indeed, it appears at least one user in the bizXpress forums has already had this happen. That did not appear to be the fault of this plugin, mind you, but rather another one. And therein lies the point. Why introduce the possibility of stressful conflicts, regardless of who is at fault, unless the benefits are very significant.
This is a very basic principle in the use of WordPress, and I'm surprised a developer offering to teach WordPress to beginners would so flagrantly violate it.
A lot of people have said in their review that this is not a real plugin. As far as I'm concerned the people who decide whether or not this thing is a bonafide plugin are the good folk at WordPress. And if they have approved bizXpress as a plugin, and continued to remain firm on this decision in the face of these reviews, then so be it: it is officially a plugin.
What matters much more is whether there is any value in installing it. Keeping in mind again that I am not talking about the SERVICE here, the answer is a resounding NO. Not only is there no need to install this plugin, to do so is a bad idea.
bizXpress the FREE SERVICE
The free service you can access via this plugin is very disappointing. Here, in no particular order, are some limitations I encountered.
1. Being able to view selected forums without posting is at best interesting for a few minutes of browsing. The first thing you are going to want to do is ask a question, and when you realize you can't, you have to go searching for somebody else who has already asked the same one. Even in a busy forum, this can be frustrating and often futile task, but these forums are brand new, with virtually ZERO posts. And the few posts that are there seem to be from staff and affiliates, rather than from users with similar questions to mine. Obviously we can't expect new forums to be very busy, but that fact makes it virtually useless to the user of the free service. A free service is not supposed to be useless, even if its usefulness is limited. The forums therefore, feel to me like nothing more than a teaser. We'll answer your questions, but only if you fork out $150 a year.
2. The Action Guide is disappointing on several levels. Most immediately, of course, is that you only get the introductory parts, which is really not enough for many beginners to make a judgment. And in my case, what was there was enough to convince me that the model was definitely not one I wanted to pursue. This is because the real heart and soul of the business model is to build a large high-traffic website grounded in organic search. For those who don't know what that means, it basically means writing lots and lots of what they call keyword-focused content pages to secure traffic from Google searchers. Although organic search has a place in an online business, to make it the basic platform of a business model is extraordinarily naive and risky, and is getting moreso every year. Again, not to say that organic search isn't a useful adjunct to a business. It is, and they do quite a good job of explaining it, however that knowledge is available everywhere nowadays, and nobody in their right minds should base there entire business upon it.
3. The keyword analysis tool (BrainstormIt! they call it), seems to be where they are really pinning their hopes. There are of course a ton of other keyword tools around, but this one does have some definite novelty. Unfortunately, the most novel feature is the thing I like least about it. You see, the developer incorporates Supply and Demand numbers with each keyword based on a propietary algorithm to help you decide which keywords are really worth going for. The trouble is, nobody really seems to know how to interpret the numbers usefully. The answer always seems to come down to 'Go with your gut feeling'. If a Demand number is very high, and a Supply number is very low, for example, it doesn't necessarily mean that the keyword is worth going for. And besides that, you have no idea what numbers constitute 'high' and 'low'. I realize this isn't an exact science by any stretch, but deciding what to make of the numbers is like throwing darts, which negates the purpose of having them.
Quite frankly, I prefer to have raw estimates of the absolute traffic I can expect from a keyword (which I can get with free tools), and I will do a few Google searches myself to see if I think the terms are winnable based on the competition. This method isn't 100% reliable either, but it is far more transparent and predictable than using relative numbers generated by an unknown algorithm.
Of course, besides all that, there's the fact that you only get to do 5 searches before you have to start paying. Again, this is enough to be tantalizing without actually solving your problem, making the upsell virtually neccessary, rather than optional.
bizXpress the PAID SERVICE
Some of the above problems go away, of course, if you're prepared to part with $150 per year. In particular, you get posting access to the forums, the rest of the Action Guide, and enough 'credits' for the brainstorming tool to get the job done.
My criticism of the brainstorming tool would remain however. And so would my biggest criticism of all. The idea of building a business on organic search. Take advantage of organic traffic, by all means, but build your business on it and you will either fail up front, or forever run the risk of overnight catastrophe. And that is exactly what has happened to thousands of would be internet marketers in recent years, right across the board (including, paradoxcially, many many tragic stories inside this very company).
A FINAL DISAPPOINTMENT
When I was browsing the developer's forums, I came across some background to this plugin which, as a dedicated user of WordPress, I found a bit unsettling to say the least.
The founder of this service, who is clearly responsible for the direction of product development and posts regularly in the forums, made it clear several times that his real aim with bizXpress is to generate revenue from WordPress to fund development of his own pet project, called SBI! Apparently that product line has had to go without a ton of important development in recent years due a lack of sales. He has claimed that his content management system (called BB2) is superior to WordPress, and wants to use WP to fund further development of that system.
As a result, he openly admits to having no real interest in investing any serious money to further develop this WordPress plugin, nor is he likely to create a genuinely useful one (which, oddly enough, seems to be an admission that this one *isn't*).
I had to read those posts several times to convince myself that I wasn't misinterpreting him. Still, it goes some way to explaining why someone would bother developing such an innocuous WordPress plugin as this one seems to be.
Call me oversensitive if you like. But as someone who adores the WordPress ecosystem, I felt a bit insulted.
I was really hoping for more here.
There is no need for a plugin in this case since everything is hosted on another site an just links you away from WordPress. No doubt this was done to generate more business from a different crowd.
I'm all for SiteSell trying to re-invent themselves and get in front of a new audience for new business, but it was as if a shortcut was taken here.
I would also like to piggyback on SoCal's comment/review and would love to see sitesell address what has changed in the guide? Since we learned they did a lot of "Find and Replace" with regards to the content in the guide, is this just the same sbi product with a new name?
What has been improved with the traffic help to make this worth $150/yr when there are much cheaper tools out here? I think providing information is great but it's overshadowed by the fact that this is not really much of a plugin. I sort of feel cheated.
Also do your tips still work in the post panda/penguin times we live in? I think that is the big question many of us are waiting for Ken Evoy to address. I don't see much evidence that you've changed your approach to teaching how to create an online business?
Granted all sites have been impacted by Penguin/Panda regardless of where they are hosted... not just sbi people, but the difference is this product comes with very big claims and a very big price. Can bizxpress really live up to these claims in 2014?
Please SiteSell, what have you changed because I think many of us know a lot of the old tactics don't work as well anymore? And after socal's discovery, I'm really skeptical. I think this will give you a great opportunity to sell us on your product and address the many skeptics here.
Also, I don't buy the explanation of housing the data on your servers so we don't have to update the plugin. As WordPress users, that is what we've come to expect. It only takes 2 seconds to update a plugin.
If this was your attempt at a comeback, I think you may have done more harm than good but hopefully you'll take this constructive criticism to heart. I don't mean to be cruel. I was just disappointed. I hope there are big updates planned for this so-called plugin!!
bizxpress is SiteSell Inc's venture into WordPress. As I've searched for content for my own personal use over the past couple years, I've repeatedly run into high quality content put out by customers of SiteSell, so I figured their tools must be allowing people to do something right. A couple years ago I was really interested in the prospects of using their SiteBuildIt service for the niche and content tools, but the dealbreaker was lack of flexibility I wanted in site design & plugins that WordPress provides. I conversed with a company rep, who expressed their product's superiority and that the company had no intentions to port to WordPress. Evidently the company founder has historically been publicly hostile to WordPress as he promoted his product. The rep I had conversed with occasionally sends Spam promotional offers (I didn't opt in) for SBI and I've simply been too lazy to ask him to remove me from his list. Well, I recently got an email from him announcing this new WP plugin, so I was eager to try the free lite version to see if it might be worth using.
The plugin is nothing more than a splash page with links to their web page where their service & content are housed. You absolutely don't need the plugin to access their content & service.
Regarding the service itself, the lite version is a tease with minimal functionality to upsell you to their pro version @ $150 recurring and coaching/support services. They offer a 10 step action plan to help you select a niche and keywords, and guide you into creating a quality content site to drive traffic, which your content pre-sells, and which you eventually convert to monetization. The lite version basically stops at keyword tools and offering 30% of their action guide... to get you to upgrade. It's my understanding that SiteSell simply licenses WordTracker technology and rebrands their interfaces. So you could get the same tools elsewhere. For less than the cost of an initial year & renewal you could even get more tools with some of the one time fee tools out there. Also, I've seen some SBI users comment that this service doesn't come with Analyze It tool The WordPress SEO Toolkit goes much further than SBI's Analyze it tool, so there's no need for it on the WordPress platform.
I have read that SiteSell customers following their action plan have been Google slapped big-time in the post Panda & Penguin world. However, I can't honestly state how the bizXpress action guide differs from the SBI action guide.
Regarding the content library that comes along with the tool, other online marketing sites offer comparable or better information, and have much better credibility an professionalism. I'll give a very specific example of bizXpress content that gives me that run away, run don't walk, feeling. An article marked as very important in their content library titled "6 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Site..." (http://bizxpress.sitesell.com/tips/6-big-mistakes.html) goes on talking as though this plugin has a very large user base and a long-term track record from which to pull data. See this quote: "bizXpress sites succeed at an unprecedented rate. But, despite our very best efforts, not all of them do... not yet, anyway! To find out what happened, we did a close examination of those sites that did not renew their bizXpress subscription after their first year in operation." The problem is, the company only launched this service & plugin last month, December of 2013 right????!!!! As of this moment they only have 454 downloads of the plugin!! So how could they honestly claim that bizXpress sites succeed at an unprecedented rate? How could they perform an analysis of customers who didn't renew after one year of bizXpress subscription if the service has only been on the market from this plugin for less than a month? Furthermore, the 6 errors to avoid in the article are supposedly the result of an analysis of the mistakes bizXpress customers made that led to failure and not renewing their subscription after one year, even though only 454 people have even downloaded the plugin and the service hasn't had customers for over a month. So basically, it appears the content is totally fabricated and based on invented data that can't exist!!! My response? Run Away!!!!!
This is just advertising of the SBI system that DOES NOT work any more (after Panda and Penguin)!
BUT, instead of them paying for marketing - YOU have to pay! Clever indeed!
They've been bashing WP for years and then all of sudden realized there is money in WP, so they jumped in. That much for the integrity!
This is just an e-book that has some value, but how can you discern BS from real value if you are not familiar with the Internet marketing. I would not suggest taking this risk. Google SBI (SiteSell) before you waste your time even with free trial.
BTW Brainstormer has no real value any more (remember that Google is encrypting search activity)
Only naive people can fall into this trap.
I say this is borderline scammy because, as others have stated, it serves no real function as a plugin. It just places links within your dashboard that take you away from your site to use the tools at SiteSell. Apparently for just a very limited time after which you lose most functionality and must make a purchase.
Having been a SiteSell customer some years ago, I was hoping that they had updated the one or two decent SEO tools they had and brought those functions into your WP site, like any other true plugin does.
RE: the business-building service product of this "plugin"
As a past SiteSell user some things I recall; Ken Evoy, the founder and author of the Action Guide used in this business building product, espoused for YEARS that WordPress was a horrible product (.com and .org) and anyone using it was destined to fail. Not sure how he reconciles that with this now.
The company still actively markets the same tools to a different customer base, that includes hosting for double the price of this. And I believe....with that SBI! branded product, you pay $300 per site / per year.
When you compare this to that, those folks must be scratching their heads, and feeling a little punked. Unless SiteSell has modified the SBI plan to give those folks additional value, or at least stopped double+ charging customers who have more than one site hosted on their servers.
The other thing....and I'm going off memory...but that Action Guide, which is the core of this service, turned out to be a bust after the Panda/Penguin roll outs. So as of my last recollection, this company was not creating successful businesses with their method. The bottom pretty much fell out for them when Google changed the rules.
If you want to access the Wordtracker tool for $149 a year then go for it. It's cheaper than paying Wordtracker directly for a year, but I would be careful of anything else this company is offering.
It doesn't seem they've really changed the stuff that wasn't working. It looks like they just rebranded so they could access WP users.
I am a stickler for keeping my plugins down to a minimum and this thing is already gone. It adds no valuable function to my site.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE SiteSell's SBI! service, and I've used it on and off over the past 10 years, both for personal pet projects and client websites.
But as a WordPress plugin, this one gets a single vote (or zero, if that were possible). I'm even surprised that this was allowed into the official plugin repository!
Don't get me wrong: I know there's tremendous value in the keyword analysis tool, online business building guides, and access to the members-only forum that the free bizxpress lite product offers.
But SiteSell really needs to learn how to be a good corporate citizen an open source community like WordPress.
This plugin gives temporary access to a membership site I wasn't really interested in joining.
I thought it would give me some monetization tools to use in my website builder but it doesn't seem to.
I think they should reword it so you know it's a membership site.
While there might be some value in educational materials and keyword tool, this CANNOT be called WordPress plugin. Here is why:
1. When you install it all it does it gives you username and password and a bunch of external links. This means all functionality is offsite. You can actually use this for any site, it doesn't have to be WordPress, you just need to know URL address to their online dashboard.
Why to use up your resources to install something that doesn't do anything anyway?
2. The trial itself is limited. You can read instruction manual only till stage 3. You don't get complete version for 14 days.
3. You can read their forums but you can't ask any questions or post replies. Quite useless.
If their keyword numbers work that would be awesome, however their choice of marketing strategy makes me suspicious. It looks like author simply used this as a way to market to WordPress community. Calling this a plugin is very close to deception. You have a great product? Great! But you should market it properly and call things what they are.
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