Score Card – Raven Tools
Value for money [rating=5]
Ease of use [rating=4]
Customer Service [rating=5]
Raven Tools is “A powerful internet marketing platform for agencies and professionals” offering SEO, social media and online advertising tools as one package.
Raven Tools is in simple terms an online marketing campaign management tool that has a wide range of useful tools and add-ons which make you more productive and more effective.
Raven is another piece of SEO software which doesn’t try to ‘be the SEO’ but rather help enhance your work through taking some of the heavy lifting out of tasks like research and end of month reporting. Raven as a software package offers probably the best value for money on the market and is without a doubt the most comprehensive in terms of the variety of tools.
One reason in particular to respect Raven Tools is that the team haven’t created a series of half-baked tools just to give their app ‘total functionality’, they actually work via APIs with the leaders in respective fields to deliver each element for example SEMrush, SEOmoz, Wordtracker and Authority Labs all supply Raven with data which means in a way you are getting access to aspects of many of the leading tools on the market for the price of just Raven Tools. Not forgetting that a couple of the tools within Raven are completely custom applications (and awesome ones at that!).
One of our favourite things about Raven Tools is the ability to white label absolutely everything. You can setup custom domains, remove Raven branding entirely and create custom reports and exportable PDFs making your business look big time to clients and employees who can login to your system and will think you have proprietary software.
The iPad app is another reason why Raven Tools stands out – the functionality offered on the move means you can keep on top of projects even if you aren’t in front of your laptop or desktop computer. This makes Raven a very attractive choice to a contractor who perhaps wants to be more mobile rather than fixed to an office simply because they can’t be ‘working’ anywhere else.
The bigger picture
When you first add a site to Raven, a site wizard process allows you to add all the necessary details about the project as well as hook up Google Analytics. This is useful particularly if you work collaboratively since it offers one source to record the keywords that are being targeted as well as progress being made.
You can configure a custom dashboard so that you can see immediately at a glance exactly how well a particular project is performing in terms of organic traffic, keyword rankings, links being built or tasks being completed – very useful indeed if you are managing another individual and need to see how things are progressing.
There are 4 options within the keyword research module including Research Assistant, SEMrush, Google Adwords and Wordtracker. All are very useful when it comes to analysing keywords and identifying new traffic opportunities. Research Assistant is a particularly powerful tool since it is a mashup of multiple sources to give some very accurate keyword suggestions.
This is one of the most innovative aspects of Raven Tools, within the site analyzers section of the dashboard, there is a design analyzer, quality analyzer and keyword analyzer.
The Keyword Analyzer is very similar to SEOmoz’s Term Extractor which attempts to understand which keywords are being targeted on any given URL. This is very useful as it can help you understand which keywords your competitors are currently targeting but it can also help you better understand how targeted pages on your own website are.
The Design Analyzer allows you to punch in the URL of a page you are trying to optimise and better understand how it is structured (and how this is impacting SEO) for example correct HTML usage, correct semantic structure, outgoing links and also page loading time. The only criticism of this aspect of the software is that you cannot export the results of this report to a PDF which would be very useful indeed to distribute to clients.
The Quality Analyzer is a useful tool which looks at different aspects of a web page to help you gauge the quality. It pulls data from sources like Majestic, SEOmoz and more to give the page an overall quality score – very useful if you are trying to understand the value of a link opportunity for example or to gauge progress on a client site.
Link Management Tools
The link manager is probably the best feature of Raven as it allows you to easily scale white-hat linkbuilding.
The link manager keeps a track of links that have been built, categorising by type, source, anchor text and URL being linked to – this provides critical insights that can shape your future linkbuilding strategy as you can see at a glance if you have too much of a particular anchor text or perhaps have been focusing too much on building a particular type of link.
You can attach tasks to links (e.g. write guest post for site Y) and ‘queue’ links to be built at some point the future making assigning link action plans to employees or third parties very simple and highly trackable.
The contact manager which falls under the link management header is also a very useful tool if you work on multiple sites in similar industries as you can keep track of individuals you have spoken to (and got links from) in the past and hit them up again if you have something that is likely to interest them. This massively reduces the time spent on research and prospecting new links – we found it to provide a way to make quick, sustainable wins in future linkbuilding.
Raven also includes a website directory which automatically pools all links you manage into a searchable database of websites allowing you to enter a keyword and quickly get a list of links you could build for another project you are working on.
Plenty of other tools
- Social Media Tools – manage Facebook, Twitter and others directly from your dashboard.
- Task Management – plan your campaign, set yourself deadlines or reminders and assign tasks to others.
- Toolbar – quick access to tools e.g. add links to your link manager without opening a new tab.
- Competitor Research Tool – comprehensive tools to identify and better understand the competition.
- Link Explorer – using SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer API. Explore your competitor’s link profile directly from your Raven dashboard.
- Link Research tool – enter a keyword and see a list of links that point at the websites that already rank for that term.
- Content Manager – make collaboration easy by storing new content within Raven
- Blog Manager – hook each of your blogs up to Raven and publish new posts without having to login to each of your websites
- Textbroker Tool – purchase Textbroker content right from your dashboard
- Rank Tracker – get weekly ranking data as well as nice +/- visualisations
- Reporting – automated, brandable reporting functionality takes the heavy lifting out of your month end
How much does it cost?
Raven Tools offers two plans, a Pro and an agency plan. Unlike many other software providers out there though, with Raven you can buy add-ons for your price plan rather than upgrade to the next level i.e. if you need more than 2 user logins but don’t want the full agency package you can just pay the small additional monthly fee!
- Plans from $99/month
- Flexible pricing – buy add-ons rather than being forced into upgrading your plan
- An internet marketing toolset rather than specific SEO software
- Manage unlimited websites even on their entry level plan!
- Very generous usage allowances (keyword rankings, link monitoring etc)
- The automated reporting is an absolute God send
- Superb toolbar which makes campaign management a breeze and gives you ultra quick access to your vital tools
The not so good…
- Our only criticism is the software can be a little overwhelming, the sheer number of tools and facets to this application make productive usage a little difficult initially. Once you get used to it, you appreciate how powerful Raven really is.