SEO: WebCEO review

November 27th, 2005 § 27 |

Introduction: WebCEO

review updated 1 June 2007 to cover current services and software status!

This is a comprehensive review of the full version of WebCEO 5.6, a.k.a. the Professional edition. There are two other versions of WebCEO, a Small Business edition and a Free Edition. The distinctions between different WebCEO versions can be found on this page. Basically, the Free Version can't do much while the Small Business and Professional Edition are almost indistinguishable. The Professional Edition makes creating self-branded reports easier and spiders the anchor text from backlinks.

WebCEO Banner
WebCEO Ad: It's more or less correct
Check bottom of the page for cost-benefit analysis

Normal price for the Professional version is $389, promotional price (about twice a year) is $249. Normal price for the Small Business Edition is $189, promotional price is $149. The Free Edition is free. Well not really anymore. To keep even the Free Edition up to date and the tools functional, a user has to subscribe to what WebCEO calls Search Engine Pulse updates which run from $149 for 600 days to $30 per month.

Full pricing can be found on this page. The pricing model is a lot more confusing than it needs be.

The promotional versions are promoted at $226 and $186 discount but that includes some SEO certification courses which are not at this point widely recognised as an industry standard. I did the basic courses back in 2004 when it was still in the form of a guidebook and was not surprised or overwhelmed by the content. Aaron Wall's $80 SEO Book or Brad Cullen's free email course available at SEOElite.com (just sign up for the trial of SEOElite to get it) 7 Days to Massive Traffic offer more current and advanced strategies than one will find within WebCEO training materials.

I am going to go through the WebCEO toolbox one by one and compare them with the free tools I use and the pay tools I own or have tried.

Skip to History, Pricing or Conclusion.

Keyword Suggestion Tool

My general comment on this tool is that it is a quick way to get a feel for a section of the marketplace and how competitive that section is, but that the tool is unreliable. It offers some great information - number of searches per day, KEI, pages with keyword (Google), pages with the keyword in title (Google), number of external links to the first ranked page (Google), number of external links to the second ranked page (Google), Alexa traffic rank for page 1 and page 2, the top two bid values for Overture and the Google page rank of the first two pages.

Given the poor quality of Google's revealed external links, it is a pity that the external links come from Google and not Yahoo. It's also a pity to only have access to these indicators for the first two sites, as my personal experience is that there can be a sharp drop off in level of competition right after the first two sites. From the WebCEO Keyword Competition Analysis, you'd never know. There is another tab - View Competitors - which gives the user the top 10 Google results with Page Rank. SEOChat offers the same thing for free but SEOChat is so overburdened with ads and other nonsense it is a pleasure to have the Google results with PR in a clean interface. For some reason the WebCEO View Competition Google results did not always return Page Rank and I was obliged to reload the results a couple of times. I haven't had that problem with SEOChat's PR search.

A more serious concern with the WebCEO Keywords Tool is the quality of sample returned. I work in local and niche markets primarily and the results returned from the WebCEO find keywords function were less than adequate. To begin with, often Daily Word Searches are simply indicated as less than 10. WordTracker and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) return exact counts down to 1 or 2/day. There is a big difference between 1 search/day and 10 searches/day. On the other hand, for high volume terms, WebCEO returns a large list far faster than either WordTracker and Overture tool, along with a quite useful preliminary competition analysis. On my sample real estate term, WebCEO returned about 16 suggestions in comparison to about 60 suggestions from the Overture tool. While WebCEO argue that they are saving you the $240/year for WordTracker - this is simply not true. Any serious SEO will be using WordTracker and Overture tools whether they own WebCEO or not.

Personally, I find the Digital Point side by side version of WordTracker free and Overture Keyword Suggestion tool to be faster and more useful than any of the above. The Google suggest tool which displays terms in order of frequency of search in Google can be very useful as well. While not quantified, these are suggestions based on real Google searches and not hypothetical data from metasearch engines.

For quick analysis of competition, I also have been using Jim Morris's Nichebot keyword analysis. Nichebot offers the top fifteen Google SERPs with Page Rank and backlinks (Google). But Nichebot's keyword analysis has been broken for the last four days. Forget about NicheBot at this point.

Normally for more in depth analysis I use WeBuildPages Top Ten Google Analysis(there are about three versions on their site) which has the advantage of using Yahoo! for backlinks - but all of them are broken as well. After much trouble this weekend - I have a few projects active at the keyword stage right now - I finally found that a combination of the SEOChat PR search tool and WeBuildPages Cool SEO Tool gave me an even better idea of the level of competition on a given keyphrase if with a little less convenience than the currently broken all-in-one tools.

This weekend emergency search for alternative to Nichebot does underscore a significant advantage of WebCEO. It isn't a free online tool that breaks. It is a piece of commercial software on your desktop which is updated regularly and should always work (apart from a day or two of waiting for the update in the case of a major API shift at Yahoo or Google).

Optimisation tool

The Optimisation tool I found to be very slow and not to give results which were particularly useful to me. I'm tired of hearing about stop words in my title tags - I'm going to include them whether WebCEO likes or not. I've already moved all the javascript that I can to external files. And no, I'm not going to start in on alt text stuffing at this point either.

On the other hand, in the Professional Edition, WebCEO will give the same silly stats for one's top four competitors for one's keyphrase which could be useful for detecting invisible and tiny text on their websites and then reporting them to Google or Yahoo! for spamming the engines. It also does a nice text of your robots.txt file to make sure one hasn't inadvertently made an error here which will prevent Google from spidering one's site. There all kinds of keyword density stats offered for those who like them.

I don't think I would use the Optimisation Tool very often. My client's pages are written by people for people using the natural and justified amount of keyword repetition. The real game at this point as all the Threadwatch SEO crowd knows is in off-page factors - at least for Google. This keyword density analysis might be more useful for the automatic page generating crowd to check up on their own bots.

I would find this tool more useful with a clearer focus on automatically detecting illegal actitivities in the top ten of the SERPs for a given keyword.

SEO Editor

The SEO editor is absolutely fantastic. It gives you immediate access to the title tag, useful metatags like description and keywords, all of the heading tags on your pages, the alt tags (offering you a chance to quickly add text), every link on your pages. It even has a find and replace function.

There are two caveats however. It works on complete html documents. Most of my new websites are either developed within a CMS or use SSI heavily. There are not many complete html documents left for me to use this otherwise outstanding SEO editor on. I've tried it on my SSI stubs (which do have metatags for keywords and description and unfortunately the editor chokes without the doctype, body and html tags which are safely stored away in includes. For anybody who does write complete HTML pages, the built-in editor is a godsend for SEO. Hélas, I don't think there are many such people left among the Threadwatch crowd.

The built-in SEO editor is a very good idea, whose time has passed. Happily enough its full-functionality is available in the free edition - whose users are those most likely to be working with conventional websites stored locally.

The second issue is that the editor also changes the line endings from Unix format to Windows format. As my primary web development machine is a Mac under OS X (Unix) and our servers are LAMP (Linux), changing line endings is a major nuisance.

Submisssion Tool

The Submission Tool is divided into two parts - Auto Submission for Search Engines and Manual Submission for Directories.

The Submission Tool is a solution in search of a problem. Websites are not launched (or shouldn't be) any longer by submitting them to the search engines. They are launched by including a link to the new website in an existing frequently spidered site (a weblog for instance).

The manual submission tool for directories could be very useful if it held set key directory submission components readily formatted for each directory and if the list of directories were far more comprehensive. There are only nine non-regional directories (when I say regional I mean regional - German-language AllesKalr, French Voila, Indian Indiaranking, Polish Onet, Welsh Dairectory) in the list - DMOZ, Galaxy, Gimpsy, Jayde, Joe Ant, skaffe, wow, Yahoo, Zeal.

Apart from the regional directories, the paragraph above contains all the useful material from the Submission Tool - direct links to the directories' own submission guidelines. If there were far more directories listed and if the submission pointers for each directory could be more comprehensive, including more end user information on things like the free inclusion options, this could be a very useful tool.

On the other hand, given the recent devaluation of directory links, perhaps it would be best to stick to these nine general directories and the regional directories. But there are some fine smaller directories with strict submission standards like SiteReviewer.net.

Ranking Checker

I've been hard on the last couple of tools. But now we come to the crown jewel of the WebCEO suite - the WebCEO ranking checker. No one and I mean no one produces such pretty ranking reports as WebCEO. With the Professional Editions, these reports can be customised in one's own company name with logo at the top and include unlimited keywords. The Free edition is limited to checking a not very useful 5 keywords at a time but is otherwise the same as the Pros get.

Rankings can be checked historically against previous, first and best. Flipping between the different results is very quick. Custom subsets of results can be created. Ranking can be scheduled on a daily, weekly or montly basis. Different subsets could be scheduled which might make the 5 terms limit in the free edition more bearable as well as avoid a SE IP ban for too many requests in a set period.

WebCEO also includes the widest set of search engines I've ever seen from a ranking tool. As well as the dozens of local Google, Yahoo and MSN local in all of their local, language and world-wide iterations (ie. Canada English worldwide, Canada English from Canada, Canada French worldwide, Canada French from Canada) - there are another 200 regional search engines all up-to-date. There are seven German-language search engines included. This diversity is absolutely fantastic as some regional search engines are big players in their home market. In the Canadian market an example of a very strong regional engine was Sympatico until it became part of MSN and shares very similar results (previously Sympatico was a unique combination of Yahoo! and Google results).

An incredible bargain comes again from Digital Point which has quite a complete online ranking checker available for free (donations accepted). While not up to the historical detail of WebCEO, all the basics are there. I used to worry that the free ranking checker at Digital Point would collapse or disappear but it's been in place for years now and only improved with time. One advantage to the online ranking checker is that your IP won't be banned nor does it occupy processor cycles on your computer while checking rankings.

Link popularity tool

I really liked this tool. Similar to the Ranking reports, the Link popularity reports are quite beautiful.

The link popularity tool does track historically. It gives one very quick filters that one can use on the data once collected (excluding one's own domains for instance for better legibility). While the data collected is not as comprehensive as that of industry standard SEOElite (no PR or Alexa ranking of incoming sites), the WebCEO ranking tool is much easier to use and understand than SEOElite. The overview of what links show up in which search engine's backlinks command is excellent and unique (the backlinks command from Yahoo! and MSN are very competitive these days).

Reports from this tool, like for the Ranking Tool, are very easy to email and excellent for client consumption.

In the professional edition, WebCEO will cough up the anchor text for each link and give some nice charts on frequency of keyphrases.

In terms of the competition, SEOElite is stiffly priced at $167 - I recommend looking around for a deal: a few marketers offer 25% or more off. For those on a budget, Aaron Wall has done the SEO community a great favour by buying and releasing as freeware his Back Link Analyzer. Personally I found the presentation and reliability of the WebCEO Link Popularity Tool much higher (although also a nominal beta). Aaron's tool runs much faster though. Like Aaron's Back Link Analyzer, SEOElite is also quite buggy (not true anymore in version SEOelite version 4 - go ahead and try boldly). The overpriced and clunky and partially SE banned, Optilink doesn't get a look in here anymore. In terms of online tools, there is an excellent free backlink checker at Linkvendor which will also supply anchor text. But Linkvendor will not keep historical data or trends.

Auditor

The WebCEO auditor is a tool for checking your website for problems. The WebCEO auditor is incredibly thorough. It checks for:

  • broken links and anchors
  • missing images
  • slow pages
  • missing metatags
  • missing alt, height and width tags on images
  • stale content
  • redirect status

The auditor will work across all editions, although the Free version is limited to just 30 pages of one's site. Usually that is enough to catch onto any major and pernicious errors. For 30 or 50 pages at a time, the Auditor is very quick. In the unlimited version, the Auditor can take a long time. One of my websites coughed up 5000 objects and ties the WebCEO auditor down for half an hour. Switching projects to view a full report for a large site takes a few minutes which is just too slow.

While the report produced for the auditor is comprehensive and comes in two versions - CEO and Webmaster - it could be better conceived for efficiency. I don't particularly like working with them.

One can get better value out of the WebCEO auditor by using it as the last tool in a comprehensive website review (there will be far fewer errors and much more manageable reports). I would recommend starting with a thorough going over of links with Tilman Hausherr's incomparable Xenu Link Sleuth. Xenu Link Sleuth will check your site faster than anything else out there (it will run up to 80 concurrent threads on your site) and produces customisable and easily readable reports like lightning. It will even produce quite useful sitemaps. Run Xenu Link Sleuth (tutorial) again and again until there are no more broken links and redirects left.

After Xenu Link Sleuth, I recommend running CSE HTML Validator Lite on your whole site (link direct to downloadable free version). It's much faster than the page by page official online W3C and WDG HTML Validators. There is a professional edition of CSE available ($129) as well which I have demo'd but didn't like as well as the free edition, as it is not as intuitive to use and most of the vaunted additional problems found were design decisions and not actual errors.

After a thorough audit with these two tools, WebCEO auditor can very usefully provide the final quality assurance and troublecheck. Considering how difficult and time-consuming, it is to audit websites by hand all three of these tools are a great blessing and huge timesavers. Kudos to WebCEO for providing an SEO sensitive auditor.

Uploader

The WebCEO uploader is a very good barebones FTP client. It works quite brilliantly with a dual pane window. The Uploader will also allow you to directly edit any page on your server locally with immediate save to server.

I didn't have a Windows FTP client (the ThinkPad is a recent addition) and am very happy with the one I have in WebCEO. The Uploader is fully functional in all editions.

Very nice inclusion.

Monitoring

The monitoring service

The basics are free (http every two hours). Additional services (more frequent monitoring) become very expensive. I haven't used this service. In principle, monitoring is a nice addition to the package.

Basic uptime monitoring is available for free from various online services. The paid versions are considerably less expensive than the WebCEO monitoring. Two minute monitoring which would cost $50/month per website with WebCEO can be had for $10/month per website elsewhere. I can only recommend using the free service from WebCEO if you are already using WebCEO.

Traffic Analyis

I haven't used the WebCEO version. I am a happy user of Statcounter . For $29/month I can have all of my projects in a single interface with 15 million page views and a log of 25,000 hits divided equitably between my projects giving me detailed stats on the latest visitor trends (now free for 500 hits per website - a great deal - May 2007).

Statcounter also offers a client login interface where the client can monitor his or her own project. I also keep server logs with AWstats which gives me adequate long term statistics.

To use the Hitlens service would cost my clients hundreds of dollars per month. More controversially, I've also signed up some of my clients for Google Analytics so we will have more and better stats for free. For now Google Analytics is too slow to respond to be worth the trouble of consulting the stats there but I expect this will improve.

Glancing over the Hitlens demo project, I don't feel the presentation in Hitlens lives up to the rest of the WebCEO suite.

History

I've been using WebCEO since March 2004. I've owned the Small Business Version for a short period and the StartUp edition for the rest of the time. I've gone through versions 4, then 5 and now 5.6.

One of the reasons I didn't make it a mainstay in the ealier iterations was that WebCEO is very slow under Virtual PC. But for the ranking checker the speed was liveable with my dual processor G4.

The real reason I decided not to continue to use WebCEO is that like lotso from SearchGuild in each of the major upgrades, the WebCEO managed to lose my data version. What is worse is that it was more or less deliberate policy.

Well frankly, I don't care if the two databases are not compatible. It's up to the engineers to come up with a transitioning program to rescue our data and reformat to be compatible with the new version. And it doesn't matter if that delays rollout on the new version for a month or two or three. But instead, I remember the version 4 being brutally cutoff (no more functionality) and left with the option of hand entering all my websites again with all of their keywords. And the total loss of my historical tracking data. Just when I was settled in as a happy WebCEO 4 user in June of 2004 I received this notice:

Web CEO 4 will stop functioning on Friday, June 11 because it is not compatible with version 5. We will spend the whole Friday and weekend completing the transfer of information to the Web CEO 5 Datacenter. Therefore you will have to save your reports and projects before June 11 or they will be lost.

Which led to the following web page:

1. You CANNOT use Web CEO 4 and Web CEO 5 together on the same computer. The new version and the old version are incompatible. Moreover, as soon as version 5 is released, version 4 stops working, and we will not support it any more.

2. In version 5, we have changed the database format used for saving your reports history. The new database format is more reliable and safe, but unfortunately is INCOMPATIBLE with the database format used in version 4. So, you must SAVE your previous reports before installing Web CEO 5, as they will be lost after the upgrade.

But in the end, I did go to the trouble of reentering my principal clients' data and subsequently decided to take advantage of the Celebrating Version 5 special and upgraded to Small Business Edition in August of 2004.

Imagine my dismay when the Canadian search results were very different for a couple of weeks from the actual SERPs. The problem existed with both Yahoo! and Sympatico. I couldn't send the (promised) regular reports to my clients because they were wrong. After a few weeks waiting for a fix, I finally gave up on the WebCEO Ranking Checker which was my primary reason for upgrading to SmallBiz and requested a refund.

In fairness, WebCEO were very kind and courteous throughout the whole process of persistent errors and refund. Support angels is a fair description of Marina, Julia, Joanne and the other angels over in the Ukraine.

Recently I bought a ThinkPad for my web business as Virtual PC is just no use at all on a single processor (in my case a Powerbook). Which persuaded me to give WebCEO another whirl. It behaves much better on a well powered PC (PIII 900) than it ever did under Virtual PC.

I did lose my database once more in all of this testing. I lost about two weeks of data including lots of set up for each of my clients. My research in the help files revealed that there is a special database backing up program installed with WebCEO. Therein the user is sternly warned that he or she should regularly back up his or her database if there is important information involved.

I don't know who the engineer with the careless and arrogant attitude towards users' data is, but whoever he is, he should be fired immediately for letting down the entire WebCEO project and all the angels. Given my past tribulations with transitioning between versions, to lose a database again is totally unacceptable. The WebCEO database should be backed up automatically by the program every time it is started and every time it is shut down. Five or six historical versions should automatically be kept on the hard drive if necessary. Reversion to the previous save should happen automatically with a single notification.

Had I lost my database at the beginning of this testing process I don't think I would have bothered with the review but it happened towards the end.

The sanctity of users' data is issue number one and feature number one for any piece of software. WebCEO continues to fail this test. I would like to see them address data security in the next upgrade. I would also like to see a major upgrade take place without any need for users to reenter their hard-earned data.

Pricing Policy

The pricing policy and packaging around WebCEO are ludicrous. The page on pricing is necessarily four screens long to cover all of the possible variations - with training, without training, different versions.

Particularly obnoxious right now is that this $249 to $479 software package (depending on what prices one counts for the full Professional Edition with training) comes with only 90 days of updates to the Search Engine Pulse service. Effectively that means that your three hundred to four hundred dollar purchase dies in three months.

To keep using it, you have to spring $99 for 300 days or $149 for 600 days of Search Engine Pulse. This is totally unacceptable. A package this expensive should come with at least a year of free support.

Frankly, the Small Business Edition should be done away with and a year's worth of search engine updates should come free with the Professional Edition. The price should be about $200. And all of the hype around the training should be dropped to promote a serious SEO tool.

Conclusion

So my conclusion is that there are some nice tools here. I would use the Keyword Suggestion Tool (as one of several options), the Ranking checker, the Link Popularity Tool, the Auditor and the Uploader. I would put a value on these services as separates as follows:

Keyword Suggestion Tool $100
Ranking Checker $140 (rev. up/competition)
Link Popularity Tool $50
Auditor $50
Uploader $20

Total $340

But there must be more respect for the integrity of users data. I would also like to see the pricing and search engine update issues resolved to a far more transparent (honest) model.

This review was the wining entry in the Threadwatch November 2005 contest for best WebCEO review. The contest was judged by Nick W.

For another in-depth and honest review, see Cornwall's WebCEO review from the same contest.
You can find another straight WebCEO review over at Toni Allen.

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§ 27 Responses to “SEO: WebCEO review”

  • This is a great article. I learned a lot of tips, pointers, and new resources. Thanks for the information!!

  • Thanks for the excellent review. I wish I had know about the data problems before buying my own copy. Hopefully, they are better prepared to treat their clients data with some value.

  • Alec says:

    Thanks Alex.

    The latest version (6.0) seems to be better in regard to data security. There are a lot of nice tools inside so it’s not a bad buy at all. There needs to be some reinvention as most sites are now database driven now and a number of the tools are calculated for locally stored flat files (wouldn’t even work properly with SSIf’d sites), let alone remote sites.

  • Christopher Hare says:

    Thanks for your time and sharing the invaluable information in such a balanced manner.

    Chris

  • Jack Durban says:

    What a brilliant review! I feel obligated to pay for it! Nice to see such fair and objective analysis without the hype.

    Now I want to see everything you have ever published!

    All the best,

    Jack

  • Nicole Simon says:

    To add to this article, I myself found that most of the given tools are nice for basic users but have the problems you described.

    Example FTP – there is no reason in the world why SFTP should not be supported.

    The research mechanism is useless – I have hits on my english websites alone far greater than what the tool tells you is the search volume. Also as my main market is German, I saw already in the basic version that this was even less useful.

    If you want to use it for this purpose you may find value in it.

    But as you said, the ranking mechanism is sweet. And the reason I put over 300 bucks to buy it was to have access to a version where you can research keywords with moer than 5 results and more than 5 terms for ranking.

    Yes both have problems, but if you know what you are doing, that would ahve been fine.

    Only to find out that you have to buy the _support knowlegde_ subscription to be able to keep the limitless research version.

    I bought this I think 1 year ago or more and I am still totally pissed at this. I wrote a lot of emails and take pleasure in telling other people not to buy it because of this.

    The website got changed in text after one of my complaints that this is not said so on the pages but still.

    The reason they claim for not providing the limitless version is that they need to monitor obscure search engines for me to be able to track it – sorry, 95% of the traffic comes from Google and the rest is Y and MSN.

    My tip is: Take the free version and use it for a basic webranking but beside that go for some better tools.

  • Alec says:

    Hello Nicole,

    Sorry to hear about your issues. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    You are not correct about being required to subscribe to continue using the tools – this is what WebCEO has to say on the issue:

    The Search Engine Pulse service is not obligatory – it is up to you whether to order a support plan or not after 90 days of free support have passed although it is recommended that you order one or you may follow obsolete advice and get wrong analysis in tools that require constant updates (keyword research, ranking checker, submitter, optimizer, etc.).

    If you are concerned about the research – WebCEO does actually query many more obscure search engines to get the research reports. For the ranking reports, you have a point. We mainly need three or four engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask). But even those engines change little things once in a while, especially in the country versions.

    I do agree that the current setup of 90 days of free updates and then charges of $99/300 days to keep up the subscription is too stiff. I’m sure they’ve done the math, but WebCEO would generate a lot more goodwill at a steady $60/year for full updates.

    Yet for somebody who uses their ranking reports for clients or for an extended set of inhouse websites, the costs are certainly worth it.

    I continue to find the WebCEO website auditor to be the best in the world, beating out any combination of Xenu and the free tools, for really making sure that a website doesn’t have broken links or syntax errors or unoptimised images.

    I also regularly use the monitoring service which keeps my webhost honest. I am using the free monitoring (every two hours) but that’s enough to catch major breakdowns. Once a site is detected on error the checking appears to be more frequent.

    As you point out the Keyword Tool is fast and efficient. Most of the online ones seem to be broken most of the time, so it’s nice to have something quick and reliable.

    Just the Auditor and the Ranking Reports justify the costs for me. I consider the Keyword Tool and the free Monitoring an added bonus.

    In terms of better tools, there’s not much out there. Most of the other programs I’ve tried have been buggy and/or fussy in installation. WebCEO is professional calibre software with a industrial quality interface.

  • Kobiel says:

    I’ve read your review so which software you will recommend? Better than this.

    Thanks

  • Robbo says:

    I’m just entering the big space of SEO and just like to say that your article was really helpful and gave me some focus and direction.

  • Alec says:

    Hello Kobiel. Thanks for stopping by.

    WebCEO is a very good start. The new links features make things like SEOElite totally unnecessary. Axandra’s IBP is also worthwhile stuff. IBP is a bit beginner oriented – they make you follow a program, unlike WebCEO which lets you do pretty much whatever you want whenever you want.

    I also use Advanced Web Ranking(AWR), as I bought that before I had a full copy of WebCEO. I would probably choose just WebCEO if I had to make the choice as you get a first class ranking tool (with much better client reports). AWR is a little stronger for doing historical comparisons, but the report generation formatting is atrocious – they expect you to start from scratch yourself.

    But even before I bought any software, I would run, not walk, to buy Aaron Wall’s SEO Book. Aaron’s book may not be the best for any specific area of SEO, whether it be link building, site analysis, PPC or keyword selection – but it’s damn close to the top in all of those fields. Aaron’s writing is a whole lot more sincere and just plain readable than what else is out there. He also gives you very little bad information, if any (unlike almost all the other SEO authors).

    I hope this helps.

    Hello Robbo

    Thanks very much for your words of appreciation. The article took a little while to write so I’m glad it helped you. SEO is a big nasty world out there.

    Please make sure to get Aaron’s book. It will help you out a whole lot.


    UPDATE 7 January 2009

    Unfortunately Aaron has decided to stop selling his book. Fortunately he has decided to open up a training site with video tutorials, specialised modules and very active forums. I am a regular reader and participant there and can highly recommend it. Whether or not you decide to join Aaron’s SEO training program, you should be reading Aaron’s SEObook weblog.

  • Tyler Barker says:

    There are hidden costs that you don’t find out about until after the trial period is up. I’m pretty fed up with dishonest tactics, such as hidden fees, being thought of as shrewd business practices. Selling people software and then telling them 3 months later that their software will no longer work properly unless they pay $30 a month is not shrewd, it’s sleazy.

  • Alec says:

    Hello Tyler,

    I agree that cutting off people’s Search Engine Pulse subscription after three months is extremely short sighted.

    In my review I wrote:

    Particularly obnoxious right now is that this $249 to $479 software package (depending on what prices one counts for the full Professional Edition with training) comes with only 90 days of updates to the Search Engine Pulse service. Effectively that means that your three hundred to four hundred dollar purchase dies in three months.

    To keep using it, you have to spring $99 for 300 days or $149 for 600 days of Search Engine Pulse. This is totally unacceptable. A package this expensive should come with at least a year of free support.

    In fact I think we should both write to WebCEO right now and complain about this policy. I will do so now.

    The software can be very helpful – if you need ranking reports for clients there’s nothing better – but this 90 days policy should be changed.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • I am using WebCEO to sell SEO to customers in the SEM sector.
    For me it is a very good tool to do business in the SEM sector.
    The ranking tool gives me a good base to discuss the status of SEO in the prospects website.

    Regards,

    Hayo van Tuinen

  • Marina Savenkova says:

    Hello Alec and all uncoy.com readers interested in SEO software,

    It’s been a long time since I promised Alec to drop in and add my two cents as a comment to your review. You mention Web CEO’s paid Knowledge Base Support fee asked for after 90 days included in the purchase price as the main problem with our software. Well, I’ll try to explain why our KB support is paid after 90 days.

    At this point, in the Ranking tool only we support 668 search engines, their regional and language versions. However, the Ranking checker is not the only tool that requires support. In general, we check more than 1000 URLs daily. You may understand that this requires efforts of quite a few full time programmers. Please compare this kind of KB support to any of the existing providers of SEO software – I have no doubt you will find none who comes close to these numbers.

    On the other hand, most US-based marketers will tell: ‘I only check rankings on a handful of the major SEs, so I don’t care about the number’ OK, they don’t provide the software, they don’t have 340,000 users, they are not asked every day of adding a new search engine, so why should they care about the regional search engines being important for local businesses only. However, we should care. Otherwise, we won’t have 340,000 users.

    Besides, we never take money for the version upgrades and our support is free regardless of time you purchased Web CEO.

    Well, another point. Alec says that our prices are too high if we take into account the fact that only 90 days of KB support are included. We sell many more copies at special prices being lower than the full prices. Every person who considers the regular prices too high can purchase Web CEO at a discounted price during the promo actions we run once in a while. And we don’t spam our users so often as some of our competitors do (we counted 15 mails in less than a month and a half!). It may be a great selling idea, but there’s no need to abuse it and irritate customers.

  • Alec says:

    Hello Marina,
    Thanks for coming by to post your comments.

    I should let my weblog readers know that I contacted WebCEO many times by email (no response) and several times by telephone to finally elicit a response to Tyler Barker’s and Nicole Simon’s concerns about surcharges for support.

    I concur with both Tyler and Nicole that it is outlandish to charge people $149 within 3 months to be able to continue to use software for which they have just paid hundreds of dollars.

    I don’t buy into Marina’s arguments at all about the 668 search engines. There are less than a hundred search engines in the world worth keeping up with – including regional ones. Moreover most of the checks on changes can (or at least should) be automated.

    I cannot recommend WebCEO wholeheartedly as long as they are sticking up their customers within 90 days of purchase for more money.

    Just for fun, let’s have a look at what does the competition offer in terms of support?

    • IBP Standard is $249 including a full year of updates. 5 website limit. That’s all you need for personal sites and small business. IBP Business is $449 with unlimited sites. IBP is a somewhat more linear approach to SEO but is great for newcomers. Johannes Selbach has always some of the best SEO documentation for his tools (starting from the old Mac days of VSE Be Found.
    • SEOElite (very limited but useful tool) is $167 with lifetime updates (really – Brad Callen continues to update SEOelite every year) and great ongoing free training and seminars (some of the best online teleconferences and all free to SEOelite or KeywordElite members). The training is worth the price of either software package. I dislike Brad Callen’s aggressive marketing but he does take good care of his customers.
    • Advanced Web Ranking (link to direct download) is $99 including a year of updates ($49/year after). They do have more expensive versions but Standard is a very good start. Professional provides extra automation and reports (although screen shots from Standard make do in a pinch) and is very worthwhile. Enterprise is overpriced and an obnoxious money grab.
    • Aaron Wall’s SEO Tools are free and while they don’t provide as many features as some of the above tools – they are very fast and very useful. Aaron doesn’t have a ranking reporter though. The very best tool though is a combination of your own mind and Aaron’s SEO Book. Buy it, read it, study it!
    • So WebCEO and Marina, you are the odd man out. Everyone else offers 1 year or unlimited support. While I really like some of your tools (the ranking checker and the site auditor and the link tools come to mind) I cannot condone the bait-and-switch with sending a second bill out in 90 days.

      I suggest you move to at least six months or better yet a year of support. I suggest you introduce more transparency in your pricing model. In the meantime, readers be aware that you will have to pony up $149 within 3 months (600 days of support – what happened to two years?) or $99 (300 days of support – what happened to one year?). Moreover, I don’t like the nickel and diming of 300 and 600 days instead of one year and two years of support. What’s wrong with the simplicity of annual renewal?

      At this point, until pricing transparency is addressed I can only make a cautious recommendation of WebCEO to my readers. Go in with your eyes open. Check out the competition before you leap.

  • Anja says:

    Hello Alec,

    very interesting discussion and it is nice to see the representative of WebCEO participating in it.

    I think it’s high time to add my 2 cents into the conversation as I went through the long way of testing different SEO softwares before choosing one.

    IBP – probably it is really not bad for newcomers, but what to do when you outgrow its approach to SEO? Throw it away and buy something more suitable?
    Also to use IBP’s full set of features you are to purchase WordTracker license – $274.75 for a year and AxROI – $99.95

    SEO Elite – since the purchase of SEO Elite (trial was not possible those days) complaints about it and its support have replaced my morning exercises. Can anyone say that the answer “Hi, We feel really bad, but neither Brad nor the programmer have any other ideas for you to try over and above what I have given you.” is a good care for the customers???

    and WebPosition doesn’t even deserve mentioning.

    WebCEO – you say about prices, but I bought my SmallBiz edition for so little as $129 + $99 for Knowledge Base. I do not think it’s a tidy sum for functionality I’ve got. I am not going to name all the benefits I have with my WebCEO, but I am really sure I would pay those $228 just for ability to provide my boss with wonderful and clear reports.
    By the way you can have unlimited number of websites with any edition. I can imagine how awful it is to decide what site to delete in case you need to add a new one when you are limited just to 5.

    Oh, practically forgot to say about Web CEO support – I do not know why you got no responses from Angels, because my requests were answered as quickly as if they were looking forward for my letter :-)

    Probably tastes and needs differ but my favour goes to WebCEO

  • Alec says:

    Hello Anja,

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that Marina finally gave an answer from WebCEO. I do wish Marina had gotten back to me a little faster and also wish – for WebCEO’s own sake – that they had a less aggressive maintenance strategy.

    I agree that generally the Angels do get back quickly and are very pleasant. As I mentioned, I’ve found more use in Brad Callen’s documentation of SEO techniques (short and to the point) and training teleseminars than in SEOelite itself. But remember SEOelite was a welcome replacement for the very bizarre and overpriced Optilink – and the link tools in SEOelite predatd the link tools in WebCEO (ironically whose link tools I prefer overall).

    My point is not that WebCEO is bad software. It’s not. The website audit feature and the link tools and ranking checker are first rate and useful to the most advanced SEO shop. But it’s a pity that the pricing and maintenance model is not more transparent as I’ve noted above.

    WebCEO licensing is extremely byzantine. Odessa was part of the Byzantine empire so no surprise. But WebCEO is selling to a modern internet and primarily Western public. It would be better for all concerned if they would just simplify the pricing model and include maintenance for a year with the purchase.

    I’m convinced that the byzantine pricing and maintenance model is a major handicap to the adoption of the paid edition WebCEO. WebCEO are front loading the billing too much.

  • Arupa says:

    Can also give keywordspy.com a try for a keyword suggestion tool

    —————————————–
    ANSWER:

    Arupa that’s not a comment that’s an ad. After a quick visit tool doesn’t make any particular sense to me and it costs $89.95/month.

  • Brian Carter says:

    KeyWordSpy is for finding PPC keywords, not SEO…

  • Goran Giertz says:

    Wow, that was a breath of fresh air, an honest review on software. Its most probably one of the first times that I have actually read word for word the entire page.

    I must be honest I don’t care what things cost, everyone is in business to make money and if that is what they think their service is worth than so be it.

    I am looking for benefits for my clients, enough value were they are happy to pay us for the services that we offer.

    Currently I was looking at purchasing, AWR Server, and now I am interested in WEB CEO.

    With software it is not the monies to purchase its the learning of the new software, training staff and ensuring that they use the softwares tools correctly, countless hours of staff’s time is worth thousands of dollars.

    As I type this post I have more then 10 tabs open waiting to go and try out all the different tools that you have recommended on this post.

    If I chose to have the best selection of software, no matter the cost, of all the software on the market, which covers all aspect of web marketing, SEO, PPC, SEM etc what would you tell me to do. Taken that this is my first time here, I hold you in high regard with Aaron Wall, SEOMoz, Marketing Pilgrim, Matt Cutts and the other sites that I visit regularly.

    Thank you again, a new devoted reader of your site.

    Have an exseollent 2008

    Goran

  • Keywordspy Scam Alert!

    Firstly I do believe the concept to use such a service is great. Finding out what my competitors are doing is really a good idea. Unfortunately the way KeywordSpy go about it just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Firstly what made me signup was the fact that I could see all the keywords my competitors were using. This is great in theory, but after I signed up I found that most of the keywords many of my competitors were using were rubbish. It seems that all my competitors were using keywords that were not working for them. After I signed up I found that over 2/3 of the keywords I received from my competitors were useless.

    Secondly I decided to signup was to find the keywords with little competition.
    Sure they supply these but out of the few that were actually related to my industry, the analysis was way out of date. All the keywords that Keywordspy said only had 1 competitor really had at least four.

    And the final reason for never touching Keywordspy, is they recurring charges. As a merchant I feel it is the customer’s choice weather to stay, this does not apply for Keywordspy. I only wanted to test it for the first month, so three weeks later I logged on to cancel my account. THERE IS NOT AUTOMATED WAY TO DO THIS!

    Here is the email I received..

    Dear xxxxxx,

    We regret to hear that you want to cancel your account with us.

    To cancel your subscription, please click the link below and follow the KeywordSpy Subscription Cancellation procedures:

    We will process your cancellation upon receipt of the Subscription Cancellation Form. Please note that cancellation request cycle normally takes 3-5 working days to complete.

    We wish to join you again in the near future as we continue to include and integrate more features in our system.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

    Sincerely,

    KeywordSpy Support

    I have to fax them a copy of a form which is available on their website. The issue with this, it has to be faxed and can take 2-5 working days. Even if I was to fax my application across I would run out of time and be billed for next month. I am unsure of the law on this but shouldn’t the consumer have the right to email KeywordSpy and ask to have their billing authority revoked?

    After all this I declined to fax the form and contacted my bank. They told me to send an email to KeywordSpy stating that they no longer have any authority to bill my card. If they bill me again my bank will create an investigation causing a chargeback to Keywordspy,

    I am very disappointed with this and believe that the consumer has the right to choose, not to be forced into a silly scheme intended to cost even more.

  • I just downloaded the free version of WebCEO a couple days ago, and tried it today and find it so powerful to analysing our site optimisation. In addition, it can be used to check our competitors backlinks compared to ours, from which we can find out where to increase the backlinks. I didn’t use it for keyword research yet but I am absolutely adore its useful in doing seo.

  • alec says:

    Hello Paredo,

    You’re right – checking one’s competitors backlinks is an essential step. Whether you use the backlinker checker in WebCEO or SEOelite or SEO Spyglass, you have to use one regularly. All three of the above do a good job. Something which I like about SEO Spyglass which sets it a bit apart from SEO Elite WebCEO iss that it is cross-platform so I can run it on my Mac as well. But for Windows use, the WebCEO backlink checker is one of the best and very fast.

    Cheers, Alec

  • From one Friend to Another
    (as we say in Estoy Aburrido)

    Do not Buy the WebCEO.

    Pros:

    1.- Awesome tool
    2.- Nice Smooth analysis, reports, etc.
    3.- Amazing Rank Checker (accurate)

    Cons:

    1.- Kinda expensive program, compared to other ones
    2.- Must buy the Professional (almost $500.00) to be able to place your logo in the reports, or buying Acrobat Pro to edit em… (pointless)
    3.- AND MOST IMPORTANT… a $130.00 Anual fee… so your WebCeo keep up the Accuracy…

    In conclusion:

    I wouldnt Recomend it as long as they keep that high fee, a $49.99 anually would be WAY better.

    Cya Soon
    – Estoy Aburrido

  • SEO Elite – since the purchase of SEO Elite (trial was not possible those days) complaints about it and its support have replaced my morning exercises. Can anyone say that the answer “Hi, We feel really bad, but neither Brad nor the programmer have any other ideas for you to try over and above what I have given you.” is a good care for the customers???

    and WebPosition doesn’t even deserve mentioning.

  • David says:

    Why not try —-? They helped me a lot when I had issues (even not with the software itself, but with my WordPress site). I enjoy using their tools and receiving newsletters on the latest news on search engines updates

    [probably because —- were charging me for updates every month and crippling the software if you don’t take some huge unnecessary package – just to get basic features]

  • […] (alas some of them broken now – SEO Elite is more reliably updated) and there are lots of other pay tools out there now which track your […]

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