Slick New Overhaul Brings Rank Tracking Back To Raven Tools

raven-blackLate last year, many Raven Tools users were surprised to find that Search Engine ranking data had been removed. Under pressure from Google, Raven yanked the SERP data and focused the tool on helping SEOs and Internet Marketers with analytics tools. Well, Raven users that have missed the tracking data can now rejoice, as rank tracking for your website is coming back to Raven (along with major UI changes.)

Raven will now be leveraging Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) data to display ranking information for a users’s site. This will operate along the same lines as Rimm Kaufman’s Blueprint Search Analytics tool in that it will pull accurate data from one’s site and monitor progress. The rank tracking tool also ties in other Google data including Google Analytics and Google AdWords data.

rankings-new

While WMT currently holds information for 90 days, the new Raven tool will store the data for future use. This new rankings feature will now solely leverage Webmaster Tools APIs to display rankings rather than using scraped data. Additionally, seeing that no scraped data is being leveraged, users will only be able to see ranking data for sites they have WMT access to.

auditor-new

In addition, the new Raven app has a much more streamlined appearance. A thin alert banner is featured at the top of the page that lets users export or print from any page. Navigation on the left rail is always present to help direct users to proper reports. The design puts a focus on the data and reporting and will also be responsively capable in the coming months.

analytics-new

There has been a debate about just how accurate WMT data is for companies, especially for larger, enterprise sites. Raven Co-Founder Jon Henshaw told us:

“In most of our testing, the ranking position data from GWT was equal to or more accurate than data that came from rank trackers that scrape. The key factor when looking at GWT data is to ignore any results that have impression and clicks that are less than 10. The majority of the results above that threshold are quite accurate.”

The new Raven Tools app and Rank Tracking will be launched the first week of August and will not affect the current Raven pricing.  See Raven Tools for more information.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Channel: SEM | Google: APIs

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About The Author: is the Chief Marketing Officer for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

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  • http://www.kyleeggleston.com/ Kyle Eggleston

    Good news for them I guess. Too bad they didn’t keep us in the loop about planning to bring it back. I cancelled my agency’s subscription to Raven Tools a few weeks ago and am now using Moz.com. I will continue to recommend Moz over Raven.

    It’s obvious that Raven Tools lost business when they pulled this tracker down, and now they’re bringing it back?

    I’m also put off with how obedient they are to Google’s demands. Why did they have to roll over so easily? If it was just political posturing between them and Google, I hope it was worth it.

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    Kyle, like most companies, we don’t announce new features until we know for sure we’re going to be able to provide them. If we could have let you know about it earlier, we would have. The reason we stopped using scraped data is because our software is dependent on authorized API access from Google and many other providers. We also believe that we’re in a better position to keep that access in the long run based on the tough decisions we’ve had to make this past year. Moz’s ranking tool uses scraped data, while ours uses data directly from GWT. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Regardless, I’m happy you found a tool set that works best for you, which is what matters most.

  • http://www.kyleeggleston.com/ Kyle Eggleston

    Jon, you’ll have to pardon my frustration about this particular issue – it wasn’t meant to aim directly at Raven. If anything I should be frustrated with Google. I hope you understand where I’m coming from, though. I had to convince the partners at the agency I work for that Raven Tools is a good tool to use for our SEO campaigns – mostly because it saved us time from having to do manual ranking checks (along with other tools of course). I setup profiles for every one of our clients (we have a lot) and it was going well. I was even hitting overage charges for the amount I was using your tool, which we didn’t mind.

    When the ranking checker flopped, I had to pull out because I had to find another way to save time. I didn’t hear anything about possible alternatives to the rank tracker in the near future… so I was forced to seek alternatives. It’s not to say anything about the quality of Raven – it is still a great tool. But the circumstances surrounding me lead to my decision to switch.

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    You’re not alone with your experience and frustration, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I still hate how things had to play out, but we are doing our very best to make up for it. It means a great deal to me that you fought for us while you could.

  • http://thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    God bless Courtney from Raven. She was taking so much heat last year when this news came out answering blog comments from people that were mad, etc.

    This is an awesome move from Raven. Cheers to the team over there. Our agency uses a combination of hubspot, raven and moz for our analytics. All are awesome.

  • RavenCourtney

    Aww, thanks for the shout-out, Jason! As Jon said, we weren’t super pleased with the position we were in back them, but I’m excited that we’ve found a way to innovate nonetheless and give customers what they are looking. I expect to have a MUCH better day when we roll out these changes. :)

  • http://www.outsource-force.com/ Darrel Bella

    I’m with you Kyle. I had the same experience. I was so happy to have found the tool and all of my clients were happy to see the reports especially with country-specific ranking report, until that feature was taken down. What a nightmare that was. However, I feel that Raven was the best tool i’ve ever used for our SEO clients. I think I’d use it again.

  • Jeff Ferguson

    Yay, now you can all go back to monitoring the wrong metrics… Good for you!

  • RavenCourtney

    Darrel: I’m really sorry that losing our rankings caused such a tough time for you and your clients, but glad to hear you were happy with the tool overall. We’d be happy to have you back anytime.

  • http://SEO-Website-Designer.com/ Tiggerito

    I didn’t know there was a GWT API to get ranking data yet. Is this something Raven has special access to?

  • http://www.outsource-force.com/ Darrel Bella

    Definitely looking forward to the first week of August. Thanks Courtney.

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    Correct, it’s not available via API yet, but it’s supposed to be soon. They have provided a stopgap method for getting that data programmatically. That’s the method we’re using. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/download-search-queries-data-using.html

  • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

    Raven have had to make so many tough decisions – and with SEO actually being about keeping within Google’s guidelines, it was probably the right decision. Big decisions don’t tend to please everyone and that takes guts.

    That being said I’m looking forward to being able to get some ranking data via GWT through Raven, our current supplier of ranks has proved buggy and unreliable and it will be nice (where clients give us GWT access) to bring that back under Raven again.

    Keep up the good (and sometimes hard) work guys and girls :-)

  • RavenCourtney

    Thanks, Martin! Awesome customers like you make what we do even more fun. (Even when it’s hard work!)

  • http://www.summitweb.net/seo-inverness-scotland.html Martin Oxby

    People/agencies have to make their own decisions – but there was literally no point making life harder than it was – it was clear at the time of the original decision you hadn’t taken it lightly.

    We keep you on your toes with tweets though ;-) appreciate the hard work you guys do – have a great weekend!

  • Chase Anderson

    Late to the party – Care to elaborate? I’m always interested in how people who hate rank data support their arguments.

  • Jeff Ferguson

    At it’s best, it’s a minor diagnostic metric, at it’s worst, it’s a complete red herring.

    I’ve spent the last 18 years of my career correcting employer and client alike from approaching me with the challenge of “improving my rank in search engines” only to respond with, “no, you want more sales, leads, or whatever from the organic search channel” – all because SEOs have convinced people that keyword rank is a KPI.

    Even when it worked, it was a poor indicator of anything useful. You could easily spend your days telling clients that the reason they’re receiving less traffic (etc.) from a given keyword was because their rank changed for a given term, but in reality we all knew that doesn’t tell much because the reason why that changed was always a mystery due to daily changes in algo to new competitors in the space.

    Now, in these days when a Google SERP can and does look different for a dozen different people thanks to customization, search history, location, and so on, it’s worth even less.

    Companies can waste their lives away chasing an increase in rank for a term that means nothing, while they’re getting plenty of business elsewhere for a term that ranks lower on the page.

    Low class, hack SEOs sell their services by promising increases in SERP ranking, bilking their clients out of hundreds of thousands every year, all while pointing to the increase in rank they were able to pull off for a worthless term.

    Like a dozen other worthless metrics in this business, keyword ranking is my least favorite of all and I was happy to see it start to fade away.

    Good luck.

  • Ryan Warren

    I am new to SEO, but am catching on. It really sounds like this was a magnificent tool… Why not sell/ license that part of the tool to gain from all of that equity, keep clients happy, and let someone else deal with google rules going forward?

  • dsottimano

    Yeah, you go ahead and tell that to the companies ranking #1 for “car|travel|life insurance”, “poker|gambling|casino sites”, and just for fun, “hotels in ANY location” that their ranking means nothing.

    Ridiculous argument considering that you need to rank to gain organic traffic in the first place, regardless if it’s a head/longtail keyword.

    Personalization definitely skews results, but EVEN so, rank tracking is an essential measurement tool to provide ROI on technical activity.

    Once you have the rankings > organic traffic, you can then go ahead and make meaningful changes to increase conversions. And what happens if you realize that they keyword driving 30% of conversions suddenly stops receiving organic traffic, how in the world do you diagnose the problem? Oh yeah, rank tracking.

  • Jeff Ferguson

    Fine… so, you can see that they moved from one slot to the next, or one page to the next… then what? Right.

    If I showed up with my clients and said, “hey, you’re getting less traffic, less revenue, because your rank changed!” they’d throw me out of the building.

    A change in rank doesn’t tell much of a story… was that change because of an algo change? The introduction of a new competitor? Or a myriad of other factors that could have changed, and again, rank tells the story of none of them.

    That’s why it’s a red herring, that’s what it’s a worthless metric.

  • http://thedsmgroup.com/ Jason Diller

    Well said sir, well said.

  • dsottimano

    If I was your client and you told me that my rankings for my main keywords fell to the floor, I’d thank you. You would have just diagnosed a problem that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to notice had you not been rank tracking.

    Example from a real client: “travel insurance” was accounting for more than 30% of organic (and sales from organic), and was dropped to page 2 because of link spam. No WMT messages, no hints, no keyword data in GA. We took care of the drop by removing links, and I wouldn’t have even noticed unless I saw that ranking drop significantly.

    I don’t think rankings are worthless, but I think I understand what you’re implying. Maybe we can just agree on saying: that we shouldn’t be focusing on rankings, but they are still worth tracking.

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