I’ve been using Raven SEO Tools for a short while here at Noisy Little Monkey and I am quite pleasantly surprised at how simple and good it is. I will hold my hands up and say straight away that at first I didn’t like it. Why? Because I’m impatient. I wanted the data quickly, but Raven Tools does take a little while to collect all the data from your chosen site (24hrs). That aside, Raven SEO Tools is a very useful tool for agencies or people who are monitoring their own SEO projects.
Even though there's lots of discussion at the moment about links becoming less valuable in SEO terms (due to the rise of social media), my personal favourite tool in the set is without a doubt the link manager function, allowing you to manage all your links in one place. Once you have contacted a website owner for a link you simply add that link request into the Raven link manager, you then give that link a status like 'Pending'.
If multiple people are trying to gain links for your website or a client’s website you can make a note who has requested it, when it was requested, and the type of link (e.g. in text, image, etc).
Then once you’ve added all the data to Raven SEO Tool it will then check the status of all the active links once a month to inform you what’s going on. So for example if someone who has linked to your site suddenly removes your link from their website, that will show up in the month report (Including if they turn it from a follow to a Nofollow link). Raven SEO Tools will do all this for you automatically, which makes keeping track on your link building easy. It allows you to also export all the data into Excel so you can keep an offline copy of your data.
You can report on just about anything to do with your website in the tool set. Creating a report for a project is so simple. Simply just click on what you would like to be included in the report from the left hand side and click the + on the tab, it is then added to the report. Once the report has been built using the report tool, run it and then you can download it in a PDF form.
Raven’s backlink explorer brings its data in from Majestic SEO, a very respected and trusted piece of software. If you have used Majestic SEO before you’ll be pleased to hear that the data can be sorted with “AC Rank.” AC rank (if you are not familiar with Majestic SEO) basically measures of how important a particular page is. Being able to access all the information for a site whilst signed into Raven SEO Tools is brilliant. One of the most time consuming things when completing reports is putting in the data required into lots of different tools, so be able to access it all from one place is very useful. Please note though even though the data is pulled from Majestic SEO you do not have full access to all of Majestic features. But still a fantastic tool to be able to access.
You can also export all the data to Excel to make it more accessible and to work on it offline.
Ravens SEO Tool also comes with a handy built-in “Competitor Manager” function. Now, the data that pulls in is incredibly useful in my opinion. The information that is pulled down includes PageRank, number of indexed pages with in Google and Yahoo, the mozRank of the pages, number of inbound links to the URL which is provided from Yahoo.
Within the Competitor Manger you can also click on a “Research tab”. This option tab lets you pull more information from a competitive site. For example; keywords for which your competitor site ranks (and those it is targeting), estimated traffic for those terms.
One of the coolest things about this research tab as it even shows the keywords your competitors are paying for via Google AdWords including the estimated CPC (Cost Per Click).
This data is pulled from a piece of software called SEMRush. Please note however as with all tools, we're not entirely convinced that of the accuracy of the data that is pulled from SEMRush, so don’t totally rely on it.
Raven’s Site Finder
Raven SEO Tools also comes with a feature that allows you to quickly find relevant websites that you could target to acquire links from. This part of the tool saves a lot of time! If you have ever tried to find relevant links to a website you will fully understand how difficult it can be. Each time we tested this feature the results that came back where pretty good. The sites that Raven then pulls from its sources are displayed from highest to lowest by their mozRank and are all relevant to the search term or subject.
So for example if you search for a word such as “Tractors” Raven will then look for 10 websites that’s rank highly for that specific keyword. Then it will look through all 10 websites to gather where they have obtained their links from and shows them to you. The links can then be sorted by mozRank or AC Rank.
Another great feature of this particular part of the tool is it has a “connections” tab. This is as far as I can see is Raven's own addition which is simple but brilliant! It shows you the number of competitors with common links. A very simple yet effective way of finding out who is linking to your competitors and not you. Once the report has been run simply view all the Connections and get in touch with them to see if they would also like to link to you.
Now of course this is nothing new. You can get all this data from Yahoo site explorer and the SEOMoz tools, but the speed and ease with which Raven SEO Tools does it is very, very impressive.
With all good things there is usually a catch and the one that did annoy me a little was the “SiteFinder". This shows sites where you may want to try to acquire links to point to yours. The top few are almost always quite broad topic, but high ranking sites that it might be difficult to gain a link from. So, were talking about BBC and Wiki sites. Now of course you can gain links from these sites but it will be because you have ace content or are in the news. If you don't have amazing content then your best bet is to ignore the first 3 or 4 links as they are the strongest... Ideally though, write some amazing newsworthy content and you'll find lots of high value sites will link to you without you even asking.
Until you have great content, a tip to follow when using the Site Finder tool would be: Search for stuff like individual products or services, because Raven will produce fewer, more useful results for you to choose from.
SERP Postions & Analytics Tracking
I was a bit worried at first letting Raven SEO Tools access and sync’ing up to Noisy Little Monkey's Google Webmaster account. But it was fine! It synced up all the Google Analytics data, Webmaster in one, (yes one!) click. The data was then shown on the user menu after 12 hours.
Raven also neatly shows all the data in one window so there is no need to open and close tabs from within Google Analytics to view information such as Top Referrals, Top Keywords, etc.
Another good feature is you can (over time) overlap data on the graph for a single keyword, which is great to see how your campaign is doing for a new target keyword. Again very simple and easy to do within the user interface and of course all the data can be downloaded to a PDF document for easy printing.
The SERP tracker tool within the Raven SEO Tool will also cache the old results every time you check for new and fresh results for your keyword. Storing and saving old historical rankings from months gone by. This is useful because it allows you to compare data from the very first report you ran. If you have been promoting a website for a year you can compare its position in the results pages today to the results to six months ago.
You didn’t think I would leave this out did you!? Of course you can also sync all your Facebook, Twitter and even your YouTube accounts to Raven Tools, allowing monitoring your social activity from all of them through one tool. The Facebook tool allows you to post Wall messages, monitor insights, and create reports all from the user panel. It also allows you to monitor sentiment but you have to do this manually, which is a bit of pain. You have to click on a choice of 3 faces to determine whether the comment is sad, happy or to neutral to determine the sentiment dial. Having said that, the tools that are able to automatically monitor this sort of sentiment are much more expensive!
Raven SEO Tools is a great tool to use, and makes getting data from lots of sources quick and easy. I personally like the fact that you can use one tool to retrieve so much data, particularly the social media side. Also incorporating some great tools into the interface such as Majestic SEO, SEOMoz and SEMrush works well. A great tool for anyone who takes their online marketing seriously. If you would like to see the pricing or have a free trial for Raven Tools follow the link.