I bought a subscription to the new SENukeX SEO software when it launched a couple of days ago. Here are my first impressions:

1. There is no manual provided with the software (which runs on your PC rather than as a script on a website). Nor is a fast-start guide provided nor any kind of documentation to help the newbie get started.

2. Video training (12 videos in all) is provided. However, these videos seem, to me at least, to be aimed at existing SENuke users who are transitioning to the new SENukeX software. The video training does explain each module in the software and how to use it. But they don’t explain WHY, WHEN or WHERE you’d apply those modules. The software’s modules do things like submit articles to article directories, submit links to Web 2.0 and Social sites, do RSS submissions, etc. Quite complex schedules for submitting articles and links can be set up in the software but that’s only alluded to in the videos.

3. In order for the software to set up the numerous accounts needed to make use of this system, you really also need to subscribe to a decapcha service (this is a service that reads the graphical capcha’s that various sites use to prevent automated submissions, converts those graphics to text, and inserts the text into the appropriate box on a form). Basically, using a decapcha service makes account creation completely automatic and requires no user-intervention.

Accounts need to be created at Social Bookmarking sites, Web 2.0 properties, etc. The accounts themselves are free to set up but the decapcha service isn’t free. The cheapest available charges about $1.35 for 1,000 solved capchas. Doesn’t sound like a lot but trawling the forum I found that a medium user of SENukeX could expect to pay about $35 per month in decapcha fees. Now, a medium user would be doing a lot with this software so the $35 fee quoted is probably a max for all but the most heavy users of SENukeX.

However, even if the fees are just a couple of bucks per month, there’s no mention on the sales page that extra fees over and above what you pay for SENukeX itself would be required.

4. SENuke had a module for doing Niche Research. There doesn’t appear to be such a module in SENukeX. If it is there, I certainly can’t find it.
[Update: I put a query about this in the SENukeX forum and a responder there pointed out where I can find the Niche Research module. You have to create a campaign first before many aspects of the software become available. A little quick-start documentation could have resolved this before it became an issue.]

5. People who signed up to the Early Bird list to receive advance notification of the SENukeX launch were given 5 templates to use with the software for backlinking strategies. They were provided in a Zip file. The accompanying email tells you that you can load the templates with just two clicks. But it doesn’t tell you where in the software those two clicks have to be applied. In other words, there are no actual instructions telling you how to load up those “special” templates.

6. SENukeX got a lot of exposure before it launched so their servers were hit hard in the stampede to get the software. That’s mostly settled down now. A lot of people have taken up the 14-day trial offer so they can see what the software is capable of. Many of those people have signed up on the recommendations of other people.

And since they’re new to the software, rather than SENuke users who are upgrading to SENukeX, the lack of a basic manual and description of how everything hangs together, is leaving people stuck in the mud, not knowing what to do or how to progress with the software. I count myself in that camp.

There have been several posts on the SENuke forum from newbie’s asking for a manual or some basic documentation but, to date, the neither the software team nor the moderators have answered those calls nor provided any of the information requested. That’s not good customer support. Now that may just be down to them having to deal with a much larger number of people buying/trying SENukeX and having to spend time keeping the servers online, but releasing a product without documentation is not very professional.

I suspect that the folks involved are too close to the product and have made the fundamental, and all too common, mistake of assuming “if it’s obvious to me then it must be obvious to everyone else”. They seriously need to address the documentation (or lack of it) issue. The training videos weren’t even provided by a member of the in-house staff but by a SENuke user who was a beta tester for SENukeX. That’s not to say that they’re bad – they’re not; they’re actually very good, but they don’t describe how the system hangs together which is what newbies need in order to get their a-ha! moment with the software.

Final Words

I trust what people who recommended SENukeX to me have said – that it is probably the most powerful SEO tool available. After all, they’ve been using SENuke for the last year or two.

The problem lies with the SENukeX team in not providing basic documentation, which any user has a right to expect to be included with any piece of software they buy.

There is a “Wizard” that walks you through setting up a campaign in the system, but little is explained as you proceed through the steps. It’s a do-this, fill in that box, click this button approach. But the user is consistently left with questions such as: Why do I need to do this? How does this relate to what I did last? How does this module relate to that module; Why are things done this way?

SENukeX may be a great product (I’ve yet to assess if it is or not as I can’t get started with it) but it’s crippled by the lack of documentation, leaving many users, especially newbies, high and dry and not knowing what to do next or how to use the software. I really wanted to write a glowing review of it but at the moment I can’t do that since I haven’t figured out how to use the software. I’ll probably have to start with the “Wizard” and accept that some of my decapcha fees will have to be sacrificed during the learning process.

I expect that a lot of people on the trial will cancel before they’re billed and that there’ll be quite a few cancelling their subscription before the rebill date comes around.

Imagine buying a small, high-performance plane on the assumption that flying lessons would be part of the deal. You go to collect your new shiny toy only to be handed the keys and told – it’s up to you how to figure out how to fly this thing. That’s SENukeX.

It’s time to learn how to fly. Sure, there’ll be plenty of crashes along the way but at least they’ll all be crashes I’ll be able to walk away from.


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