In this episode I review a Results Plus+ Package from The HOTH . I offer my thoughts on the service, the pros and cons, my personal results, a few ways to use the service, and who I think would see it as a good option.
Don’t have time to listen to the review? Here’s the basic points:
- Hands off service
- Done on time
- Able to be customized/expanded later
- Full control over your links
- Centralized, historical reports
- Multiple pricing levels/options
- Solid link foundation piece
- Limited linking root domains if you opt out of the Volume Module
- Much more cost effective to DIY or use multiple vendors if you’ve got the time/patience/know-how
Disclosure: This review package was given to me free of charge, and I am an active member of their affiliate program.
Hey guys, welcome to the Halo18.com SEO Podcast, my name is Ian Howells. In this episode, we are going to do a review of The HOTH. For those of you who have never heard of The HOTH, you can check it out at thehoth.com. It is a totally hands off link building service primarily focused around building web 2.0 properties to link to your main site.
A couple of episodes back, maybe even in the first or second episode, I had mentioned having done a test with The HOTH, and Layered Links, and some other vendors, and around that time The HOTH was rolling out The HOTH Plus, which the Plus portion means all of your content is written by a U.S. college educated content team. The normal HOTH packages, just like a lot of the link packages you can get online, typically these will be Filipino content teams, just because that helps keep costs down significantly. So the Plus version was to meet the demand of people who wanted more natural sounding content.
So I mentioned this, and a couple of weeks after the guys from The HOTH were nice enough to reach out to me, and check and see if I had a chance to test it or not yet, and when I said I hadn’t gotten around to it yet, in full disclosure, they gave me a comped package for me to review.
So the package that I’m reviewing is a HOTH Results Plus package. Typically it goes for 350 dollars, and it’s written by a U.S. college educated content team. The description, which you can see if you go to thehoth.com/pricing, it’s five super spawn articles. These articles first end up on what they refer to as their authority module, so you’ll get a WordPress blog, a Blogspot blog, and a Squidoo lens. On the WordPress blogs and the Blogspot blogs, they take those five super spawn articles each one in as its own post. They insert images in, they insert video into some, and then the Squidoo lens they either pick one or take things from multiple articles and build that one lens for it. Then to promote those, they advertise 35 to 70 supporting web 2.0 pages, 100 to 200 supporting social bookmarks, and 500 to 800 supporting profile links. So they give a range so that if some of the social bookmarks fail, or some of those supporting web 2.0 pages get deleted, they’re not locked in to, “Well, you said you were going to give me exactly 75 and I got 73, so I want my money back.” So that is the top layer.
The second piece of the volume module I actually opted to not have done, and that’s 1000 article submissions, and that goes straight to your site. The site I was testing it out on is kind of well established, but not to the point where I felt confident throwing 1000 article links at it in one shot. Next is the power article module. That’s five high P.R. articles. These were all articles put to goarticles.com, and then these five had its own set of 25 to 50 supporting articles and social bookmarks. So they had a little bit propping them up too. And then the social module with ten plus social bookmarks straight to the pages you give them as your targets, and hyper indexing which is looking to be pinging the hell out of all those foreign links and social bookmarks and supporting pages. You can give them, with this package and the HOTH Mini package, up to three URLs and five keywords per URL. So the five keywords per URL part is pretty important, and definitely something that anyone who orders one of these should take advantage of, because you want to make sure that you’re getting a really high amount of variety in your anchor text. Especially if you’re going to be doing stuff like this, getting automated link building done.
So they had cut me this six ago, so sorry HOTH, it took me a little while to get this recorded, but better late than never I guess. It was about July third or fourth that I got this done. So the pros. It was delivered on time. It was actually a day quicker than they said it was going to be done. The content for The HOTH Plus is above average for spun content. It’s still spun content, if you really sit and read it, you’ll know that something is a little off, because spun content is never going to be perfect in terms of grammar or tense, or looking at it and feeling like that’s a sentence that somebody actually sat down and wrote. All the links were correct, they did a good job mixing up the anchor text that I had given for those links. And one of the big pros is the change from some of the previous versions of The HOTH is that you get the username and password for all the top level authority modules that they’ve built for you. So with that WordPress blog, and that Blogspot blog, you get to go in and edit their content, if there’s anything you don’t like in there. You can switch out the images or video if you’ve got ones that are specific to the site you’re trying to promote. And you can switch the theme that they have, change around what’s in the navigation, add site-wide links on them, if you wanted to do that. And you can add more content in over time. So they are basically setting you up with these little free properties on trusted domains, WordPress and Blogspot, and handing them over with some links pointing to those already to get you going.
I think those are the big benefits. Some of the recommendations I would have in terms of making the service even better, there’s really three main things that I think could make this a better service. The first one is all those supporting links on web 2.0 pages that point into your authority level, that WordPress, Blogspot, and Squidoo, the way that the interlinking is done with these looks pretty unnatural. The way these are typically set up is that there will be the post content on one of these web 2.0 pages, and then after the last paragraph there will be two lines. On each line will be a link to one of the pages from your authority module. So probably pretty easy to footprint, right, so it can’t be too hard for an automated system to recognize, okay, we’ve got a couple of paragraphs of text, maybe there’s an image or a video in it, maybe not, and then after all of the content, there are two lines with just links and they always link to either WordPress, Blogspot, or Squidoo. Probably pretty easy to pick up that pattern and follow it. Maybe it’s not a huge deal, because these are really supporting pieces, but if anyone were to then follow them up the chain, they can get right to the authority level, which then takes you right to money sites. So having such a concrete format with that, with the links in the same spot all the time, is something that I think would probably be better to avoid, and to have those links integrated into the content, like they are with the authority module. I imagine price would need to go up a little bit with that, because it’s probably a bit more work to do.
I think the second recommendation would be to add more domains to the top layer. So WordPress, Blogspot, and Squidoo is fine, but I would like to see more added in so that if you want to do repeat orders for the same site, you’re not just getting more links from a different Squidoo page and a new subdomain at Blogspot and a new subdomain at WordPress. So you can kind of spread out your top level linking group domains.
The last recommendation I would give in terms of ways that this could be better would be to drip the publishing out. Looking at the Blogspot and WordPress blogs, all of the posts went live within a couple of minutes of each other. So they went in, set the blog up, and then published all the content. Now, it makes sense, because they need those pages live so they can start building the supporting links to them, so I get it. And the option, if you weren’t going to do that and you were going to drip these out, like one post a week for five weeks, one order would take like six or seven weeks to turn around. That’s a long time, and if you’re doing this for a small business or something like that where you need to produce a report at the end of the month, you need your stuff done way sooner than seven weeks. So I get why it’s being done that way, but I think in an ideal situation, the content would be more dripped out and you’d have essentially a rolling report. Definitely something that would be more challenging to put together, but I do think that that would make for a pretty exceptional service, if they were able to drip these pages out over the course of a couple weeks, and each time a new page goes live, hit them with those supporting links. So the other web 2.0 pages, the supporting social bookmarks and profile links, some of the lower quality bulk links, to kind of juice them up. Those are the three things that would make this a lot better.
Overall, do I recommend that people use The HOTH? So the answer to that is, it depends on your situation. If budget is a big concern, and you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, you can cobble this same approach together for a lot less money. You can get everything that you get out of this for a lot cheaper. The downside is, you’re going to have to go to multiple vendors for them. So you can piecemeal this together by going to the Wicked Fire buy/sell/trade section, and having one person set you up with your main web 2.0 free hosted blogs. And you could probably get that for 20 or 30 bucks. Content’s not going to be as good, but if you’re going to be taking these over and editing them and adding stuff over time, probably not as big a concern for you. And the lower quality links you can get for dirt cheap. The biggest downside to this is that it’s kind of a pain in the ass, because you have to place your first order for the links for what would be the authority module from The HOTH. You’ve got to pay that guy, get the work done, get the report back, check everything, make sure none of the links he gave you are dead, and nothing got deleted. Then you’ve got to take those links and turn those into an order with another provider and then pay that guy to get you a bunch of low quality links, and then get that report. So then you’ve got multiple reports for what’s ultimately one project, and then it takes longer because you’ve got to place one order, get it fulfilled, check it, and then place the second order, get it fulfilled, and then check that.
For me, that’s a pain in the ass, and I wouldn’t really go that route, because my biggest strain and concern is time. I have budget to play with. What I don’t have is more time that I want to spend spinning my own content and ordering a bunch of different packages from a bunch of different vendors to cobble this together. This fills exactly what my need is. What I want to do is go to one place, place one order, get the shit done by one team, and then be able to look at one report. Now one of the things that The HOTH rolled out is a customer area that you log into, so that’s great that I don’t even have to keep track of my reports anymore. All I have to do is save my username and password for The HOTH customer area, and log in, and there are my reports. Any time I need them again, they’re there. I’m never going to remember the username and password for all the different blog accounts I have, so it’s way easier for me to just log into The HOTH area and there’s all my stuff. Using different vendors, you would save money, but you’re going to have to keep track of all those reports yourself. You’re going to get multiple reports from multiple people and have to put it all together. So if you’ve got a budget and time is your problem, which is exactly the situation that I’m in, this is a good bet. You only have to place one order, everything’s going to be contained in one spot. You don’t have to keep track of multiple service providers or vendors, and if you’re doing work with a small business, and you need some good looking links, like a WordPress or Blogspot blog, this is pretty great. And the turnaround time was really solid. So if you’re doing monthly retainers with a business, this is a good way to do it.
It’s also fairly safe in that you can say no to the volume module, and not get the bulk article submissions, and just get the cleaner looking stuff going right to your site. Plus then, if you have any sort of penguin issue or something like that down the road, you’ve got all the user names and passwords to all these blogs, so you can go in at any point and adjust your anchor text ratio by yourself. When ordering from multiple outside vendors, you’ve got the report in your inbox, or you’ve saved the report in a folder or somewhere on your hard drive, and then a couple of months later, you realize you’ve gotten a little too aggressive with your anchor text. If the person you ordered from for a cheap fee to make web 2.0 blogs, which I hate that name, but no one’s come up with a better one yet, if you got too aggressive with all these links from the free hosted blogs, you would then have to track down who you placed that order with, and find out if they can get you the username and password, if they still even have it. And if they don’t, you’re kind of shit out of luck. With this, you’ve got the ability to just log into any of these pages at any time, and switch your anchor text up. You can take the posts down from three links to one link to your site. You can make that just a branded link and make these really incredibly safe. So in terms of long term worth, going this route is really reliable, and it’s a bit safer long term in case you ever run into an anchor text issue.
Now, the one thing I would say is, if you’re in a situation where you’re strained on time, but budget is also an issue, I would say to order a HOTH Mini, from the standard Filipino content team. That’s 60 bucks, and that gets you a WordPress blog, a Blogspot blog, a Squidoo lens. It’s going to set all that up. It’s going to get one article into each of those, and then they’re going to make supporting links for each of those properties for you. Basically you’d be paying 30 bucks for the WordPress and Blogspot blogs. The Squidoo’s nice to have, but that’s not something I would edit or add to over time. It sets you up with two free hosted blogs, it gives you a bunch of links to support those, and you’ve got the properties. At any time, you can go to Text Broker and for 10 or 12 bucks, and get a 500 word four star article, and paste that in there and post it, and keep those sites updated yourself. Or, if you’ve got a little more time, you can do a HOTH Mini and use the HOTH basically to set your stuff up for you, and take care of the manual, pain in the ass work, and then you can just take the property over and over time keep adding to it, keep putting more content in. Make them nice and client facing by switching the theme. If you don’t like the content that the Filipino team put out, just edit that post and whip up your own 300 word post to replace it. Or, for 10 or 12 bucks, you’ve got a five hundred word article from Text Broker that’ll be pretty good quality. Four star Text Broker I’ve never really had problems with. Five star is fantastic, but four star is totally useable for links that you’re going to show to a small business client or something like that. If you’ve got a little bit of time, but still are strapped for budget, you can use the HOTH in that way, let them do all your setup for you, and then you can take it from there.
Overall, a good service, a reliable service. Everything was done on time, it was done correctly. All the reports are in one area for you to go into and keep track of over time. They give a lot of options, so the packages range from 60 to 350 bucks. Whether you have 100 bucks a month to spend or 1000 bucks a month to spend, you can pretty easily incorporate this in with their entry point being 60 dollars. So not bad in terms of budget, and one of the big benefits for me is that they then turn these properties over to you, with a username and password, and let you take it from there. They don’t try to lock you into having to come back and use their service again to make any further use of these things. Overall, if you need some good looking client facing level links, definitely a good service to use. The downsides, like I said, with only having three different domains for the authority level module, this is probably not something where I would be making four or five orders for one site. I might order two of these for one site, and then that’s probably all I would do for one money site. But it is a great foundation builder, so when you get a new site built, ordering a new one of these and getting it up and running is definitely a good starting point for a new site. In that case, I would definitely note in your order to drop that volume module so you’re not blasting 300 or 1000 bulk article submissions at a brand new site. But definitely a good starting place, and definitely a nice add-on for sites that are already established and trusted, but you make a new set of pages. If you added five new pages to a site that’s already established, ordering a HOTH results package at three of those pages, and getting a whole bunch of links deeper into the site, would be a really good use as well.
So, I definitely recommend that people check out the service and price list over at thehoth.com. Take a look at the different levels and the different prices and see if this makes sense for you in terms of what kind of sites you’re trying to promote, what your budget levels are for them, and what your needs are. No linking package or no vendor is going to be the perfect solution for everybody. If your situations look like one of the two that I outlined before, either having plenty of time but budget being a concern, or having budget but time being the big problem, I’d definitely recommend heading over to thehoth.com and checking them out, and seeing what level might make sense for you.
In terms of results, which I should probably mention, the three pages I went after, the average position I was in for the keywords that were targeted to those pages was about high 30s, low 40s. The target I did was a law firm website, primarily focused on one area, but we went through a building process and made out landing pages for a totally different city, so I had used a HOTH package to juice up three of the new pages for this secondary location we expanded into. These pages were probably a month or a month and a half old at the time I did the package. With no link building, they naturally landed in the high 30s, low 40s, and then after the HOTH package, I went from high teens to low 20s on the spots. Everybody in front of me now are other legit law firms that have been around a bit and are established, so I got on average about a 20 position bump up for these, and this was the only link building done for those pages. I didn’t do anything else for the, partly because of time issues, but I wanted to have a clean test where there wasn’t anything else coming in at the same time. The pages were pretty well solidified in their spot from the content and the internal links already, so in terms of a test this one was pretty good in terms of making sure that there was nothing else contributing to any rank increase, and the average bump up across all the pages was 18 positions, given all the terms I went after. So certainly effective, these were new pages on a semi-established site, so definitely happy with the results that came from it, and now I’ve got two more free hosted blogs that I can go into at any time and put more content into, or adjust the anchor text. I might go in and get a little more aggressive with the anchor text than I had with them after I get some other links built to those pages. I can tackle mixing your anchor text and stuff in a future post.
Overall results were good, prices are at a bunch of different levels, so you can head over directly to The HOTH or, if you want to be super awesome, you can go to my site and click through the link in the sidebar, and it’ll give a little bit of a kickback through their affiliate program. I guess that’s another good point. If you’ve got your own SEO or link building blog, and you test it out and it works for you, they do have an affiliate program as well. That’s another thing to factor in, if you use it and like it and you refer somebody else to it, you’ll get 25 percent that they pay out; pretty good payout on the affiliate side as well, so if you do any publishing in the webmaster or SEO space that can be another thing to check out as well. All right, so that does it for episode seven. Next time on episode eight, we will be interviewing Mister Ross Hudgins. That should be out in a day or so, so be sure to come back and check that out.