"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Keyword Academy Review

Reviewing the Keyword Academy

This blog post is probably way past overdue, but with the now infamous "Panda Update" from Google and a little more time to see how some of the so called "content farms" panned out, there's been plenty to do and test. And seeing how everything works now, I'll be the first to say I was wrong with one of my last posts: HubPages is good for nothing other than backlinks now, and you shouldn't spend a lot of your time putting original content on their site. But I'll get to more on that in a bit. The reason I want to review The Keyword Academy now is because based on what I'm seeing, honestly the best way to make passive income is to go with your own site. It takes less effort now to build your own site in the rankings than it does a HubPage or a Squidoo lens...so why split the profits with someone else for your hard work?

Many of the advantages that Web 2.0 sites used to offer are gone or highly diminished. At one point I had no problem with advocating that individuals start on HubPages, learn how Internet Marketing worked as they wrote hubs (which was so powerful as to virtually guarantee rankings in the search engines) and then made some good quick money on the way to learning everything you needed in order to apply those lessons to your own websites. But based on what's happened since the now named "Panda Update" and perhaps even more importantly HubPages reaction (and that second one is truly the key), I don't believe they'll make a bounce back any time in the near future, and the fastest way to success is now through building your own website, BUT you need to understand exactly how to do it the right way.

This includes understanding:
  • Keyword research
  • Website set up (including the best WordPress plugins)
  • Backlink building time line and strategy
  • Monetizing methods
  • Importance of consistent work/effort
  • Knowing how/when to test ad lay outs
The reason I gladly promote The Keyword Academy (and yes, these are affiliate links but as I've said before, I don't put in an affiliate link unless I believe in it - notice the lack of HubPages affiliate links in this post) is because they teach all this in really clear video tutorials in addition to providing a wide range of services to members which really makes making money online much easier. In fact, if you're getting into Internet Marketing and you're competing against Keyword Academy members, you're at a huge disadvantage. So buckle in for perhaps the longest Keyword Academy review on the net.

Introducing the Basics
There was a time where I hesitated to recommend this program to pure beginners since I've been in a place where $33 a month seemed like a major investment, especially with another $12 for each domain name and another $10-12 a month for hosting. Especially early on when you could build up $100 a month in a few months using HubPages or writing eHow articles. However, now after a lot of testing the quickest way to get rankings is your own website, and that changes things drastically.

For the beginners, the keyword academy has a clear "First 100 Hours" plan which basically takes your hand and helps you go step by step through 100 hours of work to get you on the right track, get you building niche sites that rank, and earning money. This is a very labor intensive business, so having a 100 hour guide is a great help to beginners who can just look down, work the next step, and start seeing results as quickly as possible to keep from becoming discouraged.

In fact, there's even a "New Members Welcome Page" to get you all the e-mail support you'll ever need and to point you to the most important lessons for beginners to start out with. The e-book in the members area has chapters that come in both print and video form, giving you a very effective tutorial ranging from the attitude and perspective you need to succeed to specifics about setting up websites and videos giving all the technical details for those of you (very much like myself) who are absolute dunces when it comes to the technical side of things. In other words, you can re-watch set up videos again and again to make sure you learn how to set up a new WordPress site inside and out. I can't over emphasize just how easy and simple they make it for people to learn absolutely everything you need to set up your online websites and to build the rankings you need to succeed.

The Niche Refinery Tool
The niche refinery tool is one of my personal favorites among any online tool I've ever used. This tool uses the mathematical formula the Keyword Academy teaches to determine the value of keywords, but instead of having to hand check every single keyword and run the mathematical formula over every single keyword (a process that could take many many hours if you were checking out 100 keywords), the tool allows you to import several hundred or even thousand keywords from the Google AdWords tool and allow the program to run through all of them while you go and write content, gather new keyword lists, or do something else that's productive.

The information is then given to you in a spreadsheet format where you can organize all the keywords by difficulty level (judged on a number scale from 10 on up) or on the projected value of the keywords. These can be arranged from lowest to highest or highest to lowest, making it very easy to analyze the information and target the easiest keywords first, followed by the ones with the highest money making potential. This tool allows you to run multiple lists of keywords at once, meaning in one day you can easily run enough data through the tool to find more good keywords than you could possibly work on in an entire year.

This tool is not only an incredible time saver, but it saves on the tedium of having to do all the keyword research by hand and makes it very easy to see what keywords in a niche are the most worth going after, and what the "low hanging fruit" are that should be easy to pick off and gain rankings for. This tool alone is worth the monthly subscription, IMO.

The PostRunner Tool
The PostRunner tool is definitely the crown gem of The Keyword Academy's tools. Anyone who has been in SEO or Internet Marketing for any amount of time, or found a single accurate resource on the topic, knows the importance of backlinks. A few years ago outside of article marketing or investing the time and money to create your own long list of websites, getting those links could also be very difficult and very time consuming. The PostRunner tool puts hundreds, if not eventually thousands, of different blogs and websites at your disposal who accept guest posts. These are spread across hundreds of different hosting IPs, different hosting companies, and belong to over a thousand different people. In other words, it's a blog guest posting service on steroids, and unlike article marketing which only allows side bar links, most of these places allow two keyword anchored backlinks in the post - which are the most effective backlinks and also the hardest to get.

There are hundreds of niche sites which only take posts on specific topics, and as anyone who has been working towards passive income online knows, those types of links give the highest amount of benefit when it comes to ranking in the search engines. The site owners get free content in the form of articles, while you get two backlinks per article to your own sites.

Whether you call it guest blog posting on steroids or article marketing on steroids, the ending result is the same: you have hundreds and hundreds of sites at your finger tips just waiting to give you a perfect keyword anchored backlink. This tool alone is worth twice the monthly fee for the entire Keyword Academy, and a push for more niche sites and more high quality sites means that PostRunner is going to remain an extremely effective tool for ranking in the search engines.

Many people (including myself) have ranked niche sites in the top 10, top 5, or even the top of the search engines only using PostRunner and nothing else - including myself. This is an extremely effective tool, and if you combine it with article marketing and a few link exchanges then you might be amazed how quickly you can effectively rank a niche site high in the search engines and get those AdSense clicks or Affiliate Commissions coming in. You also have the ability to add your own sites to PostRunner and thus take advantage of the free content people are willing to provide.

Streamline and WorkTracker Tools
As if those two tools weren't already more than enough to justify The Keyword Academy's monthly membership cost (which really is pretty ridiculously reasonable for what you get) there are organizational and motivational tools as well. I know for me personally a chart tracking my daily word count really does encourage and motivate me - as odd as that might seem. Using the Work Tracker is simple: put in your daily word count and the graph charts it on a seven day rolling average while also telling you how many words you've written in the past month and during any of their publishing challenges. You can also join groups and make your graphs available to a number of other TKA members. This can be a great motivational tool for a group as you can compare your publishing rates to those of others in the group. This can be a great motivation to publishing more, and to prevent you from taking a few days off knowing others will see those 0 word days.

Streamline is a neat set up which allows you to assign main keywords and cousin keyword to the websites you're working on. Streamline keeps track of these, keeps track of how many articles you've written and how many keywords used, and then can be used to create a "Project Task List" which will show you how many more articles to write for each term as a basic start, and lists them so you can refer to it as a list of which articles to write next. Streamline keeps track of how much work has been done and shows the % completed for each cousin keyword and main keyword. If you tend to get overwhelmed when there's a lot to be done, this tool gives you the ability to make a very clear list telling you exactly which articles should be next and how many more are needed.

For the organizationally challenged, this tool along with Work Tracker, can be a life saver.

There are monthly webinars provided from TKA (and if I call it KWA at some point it's the same thing, just and odd eccentricity of mine) which can cover everything from "what to do after 6 months," "how to hit the next level," or other strategies about link building and the importance of getting the most out of your PostRunner site. In other words, the excellent teaching and content doesn't stop once you sign up, there's new information and training coming every single month and you're getting trained by people who know the Internet Marketing process through and through. I attend most of them because I know there's always an additional nugget or bit of information that is going to help speed up the process for me.

The Forums
I'm with many people in this business who argue that forums can be one of the greatest time wasters of all online activity. That being said, a really good forum can also give you access to expertise, support, and ideas which speed up your ability to make a living online and give all the support you need to make it through the tough times. In my opinion, the TKA forums are the latter, as you will find many people on there making $10k to $20k or more a month who are still more than willing to give advice on how they did it, help out newbies, and also provide alternative information like other methods of getting ranked in the search engines, how to sell an e-book, or many other issues. While you should spend only a little time here and most of your time writing content, the forums are an invaluable resource and even provide an "Inspiration" thread with tons of stories of how KWA members started at $0 and made it to $1,000 a month or more. It's a great addition to the whole KWA bundle.

The Trial Period
Oh, yeah, the first month is free and you have UNLIMITED access to The Keyword Academy during that time. You can use all the tools, gain backlinks, do your keyword research, and if $33 a month just isn't feasible at that point (and I've been homeless twice so believe me, I understand) then you take your information, move on, and come back when you're stable enough to afford it. If you stay, the price is $33 a month although discounts are available if you choose to buy a yearly subscription which is $396 for 14 months, or basically 2 months free when you pay for 12 months up front. Either way, it's a very good deal.

Contests & Awards
There are often 3-4 publishing challenges a year, and these challenges often have multiple awards given out through drawings. You get so many entries into a drawing often based on number of words published, number of days you publish, or other similar measurements. In other words, the more you work on your business, the more chances you get to win a prize on top of everything else.

What makes this especially intriguing is that the prizes include $1,000 cash prizes, year long subscriptions to TKA, or even free credits to article writing services. All of these can be an enormous help to speeding up your Internet Marketing Career, and you get a chance at these prizes by working to build up your own business: that's about as win-win as it gets.

Affiliate Program
Current subscribing members to the Keyword Academy can enroll in the affiliate program, which pays very handsomely. For each person who signs up for the Keyword Academy through your affiliate link and stays subscribed, you receive 35% of their monthly dues, which comes out to $11.55 a month. So if you get a mere three people to sign up and stay with TKA, that will pay for your own monthly subscription.

So Final Thoughts
This is by far and away the most commercial blog post I've ever written, and will probably stay that way. However, if you want to win in the online world in making residual income, this is the way to go. I have tested out a lot of products and membership sites online, and several of them were very high quality but at the end of the day, this Keyword Academy review hopefully explains what I honestly believe: this is the best possible program online for Internet Marketing for both beginners and even for the experienced. This program brings years worth of education down to easy to understand videos and lessons that can have you on the right path in days. That's why I strongly suggest if you haven't become a member that you start out with The Keyword Academy Trial month.

I have more to say on why I've changed my mind about HubPages and why I would suggest a completely different strategy for building an online passive income now than I did 12 months ago. That's because this is a changing game, and while I'll get into more of that, I'm going to end this post as a Keyword Academy review and hit the rest later.


  1. Thank you for writing this. I look forward to more of what you have to say about HP and why it's no longer worth it. I have been really wrestling with whether or not Hubpages is worth it anymore, and I do respect your views on the subject.

    I find it very difficult to put all the time into a hub and see so few results. Good post, and look forward to the next.

    (prairieprincess on Hubpages)

  2. Hi Sharilee,

    Not a problem. I hope you found the post useful, and I'll give you a brief run down of what I see about HP right now since this particular post might be up for a while. Summarized shortly the biggest issue for me is this:
    1) Right now it's easier to rank your own keyword based URL starting from complete scratch than it is to rank a brand new HubPage.
    2) If this is the case, why work longer and harder to rank a hub and just get only a 60-65% cut?

    I've tested multiple niche sites versus new hubs, and the results aren't even close: and I even have 3,000 word hubs vs. 4 500 word posts on the URL. The other issue for me is that aside from duplicate content, the huge red flag from HubPages was simple: their internal linking was so strong that a hub with 2 external links could often out rank a URL with 60 links just because of the internal link juice from HubPages. There's no way that Google sees this as anything but gaming the system.

    But with all the new changes being rolled out, several are questionable (I had one hub removed on the health benefits of green tea because it was "over marketed" which was amazing since I was getting 70 visitors a week - in other words I was providing 70 visitors a week with information they weren't finding elsewhere) at best, while absolutely NOTHING was done about the internal linking structure. Until they address that, nothing's going to change with Google.

    I WILL say this much for HubPages: they DEFINITELY still have their place, but it's for creating backlink articles for your real money sites and not for actually investing time building links for money making hubs. Basically I would now treat HubPages like Ezinearticles and if you get a couple bucks, great, but it's only bonus and not the end goal.

    So to summarize, I'm now all about joining the Keyword Academy from the very beginning and using that knowledge to build and rank your own websites where you get 100% of the income. It's a much better deal, and for the first time I can remember, it's actually the quickest and easiest way since eHow and HubPages are done and not the same, respectively.

    More comes later, but thanks for the comment!


    Shane "Master" Dayton

  3. I have heard good things about the Keyword Academy but wonder what they might be able to do for a part-time amateur such as myself. The $33 cost would mean I am working for free. It is hard for me to think that without being able to spend 20 hours per week, the results would justify the expense.

  4. Great post Shane - glad to see that you checked out my review as well.

  5. @ All Cash on Deck
    Thanks. Always appreciate the kind words!

    You do bring up an interesting point. If you're only working on one or two sites and they're long term projects then it's pretty legitimate to wonder if TKA is worth the investment. If you don't have the time to invest then no program is going to be worth a monthly fee. I would say to consider waiting until you had some time to invest several hours or days and then consider taking the one month free trial. You can download all their training videos to your computer, use their niche refinery tool to download information on hundreds or even thousands of keywords, post some keyword articles, and then cancel before they charge you for the second month.

    If I remember right you were dabbling with finance and golf, which are two ultra competitive niches so I'm not sure how many results you'd see using PostRunner, but it's still a great tool to get some good backlinks that won't otherwise be available.

    Just a thought, but given your situation, it might be wise to wait a little longer. Tough call - I'd still strongly recommend thinking about the trail period before canceling. The teachings could give you a pretty good boost in your online quest, and the keyword research tool will definitely save you dozens if not hundreds of hours of research, depending on how many you run through the program.

  6. This is an amazing and quite thorough post. I've been a member of TKA for almost 2 years, and I couldn't have said this better myself, but I'm going to try.

    I recently referred my first affiliate to the program, but was quite unsure as to the payout structure going forward. Thanks for clearing it up, that each month they stay subscribed I'll receive a commission.

    I'm definitely going to pursue some more referrals, if only to offset some of my monthly IM expenses.

    Thanks for this post...

  7. Hi Bizz,

    No problem. It took me a little while to get going with the affiliate program, too, but so far I have four consistently there month to month, one who just dropped out, and three more on the trial period. For me I love the program because I can recommend it as an affiliate with a completely clear conscience because I know that it's honest, helpful, and the best out there. You can't ask for more than that. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Master Dayton, I enjoyed your review and appreciate the other resources you have put together on your site. In fact, my wife and I have signed up for TKA using your affiliate link based on what we read here. So far, I am very impressed with the success principles presented and TKA's approach makes logical sense (from my perspective having no IM experience). That said, today I saw some posts in the forum (on what appeared to be the most recent and most active thread) that indicate there may have been some significant changes even in the past 7 months since you wrote this review. From what I read, it seems that many of the tools you mentioned have been retired. Additionally, the site is now run by Mark alone which isn't bad in and of itself, but several veteran as well as newbie members, have indicated Mark has not been particularly involved in the community lately. There also seems to be a question as to if and when the content and tools are going to be revised. These things introduce some uncertainty to say the least, and at worst reduce the attractiveness of TKA as an ongoing tool worth investing in. My wife and I are entrepreneurs already, so we are not averse to risk and hard work, but given that building a quality content rich site is not a small or quick endeavor, I am just seeking current, relevant information that can either confirm or deny the viability of TKA's present methods and their future outlook. I sincerely hope for confirmation as the idea behind TKA is certainly appealing. Any input you have is greatly appreciated!

  9. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for reading the entire post. You bring up a lot of great points that show you did indeed read the whole thing and then took the initiative to really check things out yourself. I very much appreciate that.

    So I'm going to answer this in two parts. I've been meaning to update this post, but the past five months have been insane and it's just not done yet. In my most recent blog post which they won't let me post for some reason. Look for "Times They Are a Changin" on this blog on September 12.

    However I don't answer all of the questions you ask in the post so I'll try to go over them here. Keep in mind as always that this is my personal opinion and is true as of when I'm writing this - things can always change down the road.

    In the past 7 months there have been massive changes. You might see this referred to as TKA 1.0 versus TKA 2.0, with 2.0 being the new methods. I actually think this is a good thing. Several times Mark and others in the forum have mentioned that the original methods still work, but if you don't care about quality or aren't careful with how you linkbuild, there's a chance later that you will lose that income when Google slaps your site. A major part of TKA 2.0 is "review proofing" your website to stabilize your income.

    Several of the older tools have been retired, but I'm not as concerned about that. As long as Post Runner is working so you can create high quality backlinks, the others don't matter. They're just gravy. As Google makes it harder and harder to do keyword research, it makes sense to move to a method that doesn't require "rankability" formulas that are near impossible to follow now, and aren't always completely accurate.

    As for Mark not being as active, I'm not sure about this to be honest. I don't pay attention much. I know there are more posts than ever, still high quality webinars released on a consistent basis, and plenty of serious help from the forums. This could be legitimate as a complaint, but it could also be along the lines of a "What can he really do to further help you?" direction. There are incredible tutorials for beginners, videos, webinars, and at the end of the day the TKA members section already has more than all the help and tools anyone needs to succeed and there are plenty of helpful voices in the forums, as well. I don't think that Mark running the site is a detriment at all, and honestly I only occasionally go to the forums so I can't honestly speak on that side of it, though it hasn't affected my sites from continuing their earnings growth :)

    When it comes to reviewing the Keyword Academy, my personal opinion is that the new Keyword Academy methods are more useful than ever and at $33 a month I'm never going to complain based on what they offer. Long term, it's worth the risk. As Mark often said, the only way you fail is if you quit. Keep at it and eventually you will make it.

    If you're in it for the long term, then I strongly recommend sticking with them and taking the daily action they recommend to get your websites ranked and staying there. Google changed the online world back when the first Panda updates came out and the fact that The Keyword Academy admitted the old methods still worked but were no longer stable, and that new methods were needed, is exactly what you would want to hear after something as major as Google's Panda changes.

    So my final thoughts are I absolutely believe that TKA is definitely worth it, and a few articles in Post Runner every day alone is more than worth the monthly expenses, IMO.

    Hope that helps. If I missed anything, just let me know. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!


    Shane "Master" Dayton