02 Aug 2010, Posted by admin in Featured,Nohat, 7 Comments
Update: The coupons have now run out, but Raven Tools are offering a 1 month free trial.
I’ve been using Raven tools (aff) for about 6 months now and it’s fair to say that I love it. It’s probably best known for it’s link manager, and that’s understandable – I think for agencies or in-house SEO’s, it’s an incredibly useful way of storing site owner contacts and potential link targets. In truth, if you’re an SEO company that builds links, or if you manage a team of link builders, and you still use Excel spreadsheets to record all of the details – I’d suggest giving Raven a go, it’ll save you time. And if you are using Excel spreadsheets, Raven lets you easily import all of that data.
It’s Firefox toolbar is incredibly useful for teams of link builders, allowing them to add link data (contacts, prices, notes etc) in a way that can be easily shared between everyone, and can prevent link builders from chasing sites that have already turned them down, or that are being contacted by another member of the team. It’s much more efficient than using loads of spreadsheets – but if you want, you can still easily export all of that data into Excel, if that’s your thing.
Rather than talking through it’s link manager though (which Sugarrae does a much better job of than I could), I thought I’d instead give a run through of a few things that I love about Raven, and that I find useful or interesting or that save me time and effort.
Raven’s backlink explorer now brings in data from Majestic SEO, which means that you can get some access to it’s huge database of link data, and can sort things by Majestic’s AC Rank. While it’s not the same as having full-blown access to Majestic, it’s definitely a pretty awesome addition to an already useful tool. This link data is also exportable, which means you can also play around with it in Excel, and pivot your heart out. It’s another tool to support Linkscape or Yahoo’s backlink data, and it’s inclusion in Raven is incredibly useful.
Raven has a built-in Competitor Manager – it lets you add a whole load of competing sites and it’ll automatically fetch and store things like PageRank, number of indexed pages in Google and Yahoo and the number of inbound links they have according to Yahoo. You can also dig deeper into each site listed by clicking the “Research” link. This shows you a bit more data about the site, including things like a sample set of keywords the site ranks for, the estimated traffic they get based on where they rank for those terms, which keywords they bid on using AdWords and the estimated CPC and associated traffic for those terms – all of this is data that comes out of SEMRush and, while interesting, I suggest taking it with a pinch of salt simply because I can’t verify how accurate it is.
For some of the sites that I run, the data is fairly close but for others it can be way off. Obviously, while it’s a useful little tool – it’s definitely not a replacement for digging much further into competitor’s backlink profiles, but it is a nice, handy starting place.
Raven’s Site Finder
Raven lets you quickly find sites that you’d benefit from a link from, based on a topic. If you search for the word “laptops”, for example, it looks at the top 10 site that’s rank for that keyword and then runs through all of the sites that link to them. It then shows you the best of those links, and let’s you sort by mozRank, Majestic’s AC Rank or, interestingly, by “connections”, which is Raven’s term for the number of sites in the top 10 that site links to. So if one site links to Dell, HP and Apple, it’ll have a connection of 3.
I really like the idea of displaying connections like that so easily – if you’re a brand like (for example) Sony, and you find a site that links to Dell and Apple, but not you – there’s a good chance that you can find a reason for that site to also link to you. It’s possible to get that information out of Yahoo with specific queries, or from SEOmoz’s OpenSiteExplorer – but I find it quicker with Raven. You can also add each link to Raven’s built-in Link Manager.
There’s a slight downside to the site finder though – it’s a bit optimistic with the site’s it shows at first. It’ll obviously show you the absolute strongest, relevant sites out there to get a link from, so a competitive term like “laptops” is going to bring back powerhouses like the BBC and Wikipedia, which you may almost certainly never be able to get a link from unless it’s naturally given. The site finder is best used by choosing to add the sites that you think you may be able to chase down a link from into the link manager.
My tip for the Site Finder is to try it using a search term that’s related to your niche, but is much more longtail. Wireless hard drives, hot air balloon rides, semi-acoustic guitar amps – whatever it is your site is about, try and find a longer tail term and see what results you can get from the site finder. Quite often you can dig out some absolute gems that you may not have found otherwise.
Clever Ranking & Analytics Tracking
Raven tools integrates really easily with Google Analytics and I love how simply it mashes up visitor and ranking data. It’s something that’s kind of obvious but isn’t ever really done. Raven makes it simple.
If you’re monitoring a keyword and have connected Raven to the site’s Google Analytics account, it can show you the ranking of that keyword over time and can overlay it on top of a graph of visitor data. It’s a nice and simple way of seeing how much extra traffic that specific ranking improvement is getting you. You can get to it from the SERP tracker by clicking on the keyword you’re tracking, and then selecting the “Google visits” checkbox, or you can export it as a client-friendly PDF.
But there’s another awesome feature of the SERP tracker – every time Raven checks the search results for your keyword, it caches those results. You can access the historical rankings by following the same process as above, but then clicking on the ranking position for the date you want to check out. As I’ve set it to check Google.co.uk, the tool has usefully accessed Google from a European data centre.
For search agencies and in-house SEOs, I’d guess that the most useful feature of Raven is it’s link manager, which tends to overshadow some of the other awesome features that the tool has. Raven saves me a huge amount of time, and it gives me very easy and incredibly quick access to some pretty awesome data too.
Free Raven Coupons
Jon was also kind enough to offer some coupons for Shark SEO readers, too. What an awesome guy.
The first 50 people to use the invitational code SharkSEO (or by clicking here) will get 3 months free access to Raven.
If you miss the boat on the coupon code, they still have a free 30 day trial which you can take advantage of. Bear in mind though, the trial version of Raven has a much lower limit on the number of keywords you can track or sites you can monitor.
Note: I’ve chosen to use affiliate links in this post, but if you’d prefer to use a non-affiliate link (and because I want to give the guys a clean, dofollow link) you can use this link (although I’d prefer it if you didn’t): Raven SEO Tools.