Why Raven Tools Might Be Trusted

Why Raven Tools Might Be Trusted

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Jon Henshaw from Raven Tools posts his response.

One of the motivating factors for starting this blog was because I was sick and tired of seeing the reputation of the internet marketing/SEO industry getting trashed.

I’ve taken a close look at Majestic SEO along with Matt & Brad Callen in the past.

When I asked Matt Cutts what he likes & dislikes about the blog he said-

I have to agree with him – the best posts are the ones that cut through the underbelly of the Internet Marketing world.

So now it’s time to turn my focus to Raven Tools deceptive practices.

What you read here doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of their tools and I urge you to check out their 30 day free trial and make your own mind up!

A Brief History

On January 11th 2013 I published a post comparing the best backlink checkers which included Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, SEO Spyglass, SEOMoz & Raven Tools.

Out of a possible 516,771 backlinks the tools managed to find a combined total of 178,242 – 34% of them.

Backlink Checker # Total Found % Total Found
Ahrefs 48,619 9.41%
Majestic SEO 36,911 7.14%
SEOMoz 39,411 7.63%
Raven Tools 34,206 6.62%
SEO Spyglass 19,095 3.70%

This caused all sorts of controversy – Majestic SEO got their knickers in a twist but the SEO Spyglass team handled it fantastically.

On the same day I published the post – I also applied to the Raven Tools affiliate program.

Jeremy Rivera – the Raven Tools affiliate manager at that time followed me on Twitter a few weeks later.

When I did my backlink checker test I was actually very disappointed with the backend of Raven Tools.

The front end looked very clean and well-polished, but the backend left an awful lot to be desired.

At that time I had no plans to follow up and take a closer look.

However I knew Raven Tools were working hard to improve the service and when they released the beta of their new Site Auditor they reached out to me for a review.

Jeremy acknowledges that my review of Raven Tools as a backlink checker was pretty poor, but he accepted it was fair & thorough.

Nearly 2 months after publishing the post and applying to the affiliate program – my application was approved!

Jeremy then very kindly reached out to me to offer his full support and any help with promoting Raven Tools.

They went on to highlight the fact that building honest & detailed reviews of Raven Tools was the best way to promote them.

Unfortunately in 11 months my honest review didn’t drive a single sale after 350 clicks and 72 trial signups.

But that was to be expected really due to their poor performance as a backlink checker.

In my April 2013 income report Jeremy kindly dropped by and left a comment.

We went back and forth a little discussing how Raven Tools could improve its affiliate offering.

As you can see Jeremy is very open and honest about the situation and we have a great relationship!

He even offered his advice on how to increase the conversion rate of the trials.

Jeremy was doing a great job as an affiliate manager. Since the initial post was published we had built a positive relationship!

We also discussed a follow up post comparing SEOMoz & Raven Tools after I had received requests from readers to create a more dedicated Raven Tools tutorial.

A Quick Recap

  • Jan 11th – I publish the backlink checker post & apply to the Raven Tools affiliate program
  • Feb 1st – Jeremy Rivera follows me on Twitter
  • Feb 25th – Raven Tools ask me to review their new Site Auditor beta
  • Mar 6th – My affiliate application is approved & I update the original post to include my affiliate links
  • May 2nd – Jeremy & I discuss how to improve the affiliate offering for Raven Tools

A Positive Relationship Was Formed

At this point I felt I had a great relationship with Raven Tools.

The original post mentioned the fact they offer a full suite of tools to manage campaigns – but checking backlinks was still part of their front end sales proposition.

Sure they didn’t perform that well as a backlink checker but they acknowledged that the test was fair but were working hard to improve their service.

Everything was great and I had spotted that Raven Tools had completely overhauled the back end, something I was previously very disappointed with.

They have also been adding new features to the suite nearly every week which is impressive by anyone’s measure.

So a more dedicated follow up post exploring the progress Raven Tools had made was certainly on the horizon!

Readers were asking for it & I like to give my readers what they want.

So What Went Wrong?

On October 30th, more than 10 months after publishing my backlink checkers post they terminated my affiliate account without warning.

I was pretty shocked by that, I was under the impression we had a great relationship!

As you can see I copied Jeremy into the reply and even used my bestest /sadface

At some point it seems Jeremy Rivera left the company and with it, so did my positive relationship with Raven Tools along with the companies affiliate management skills.

This was the reply I received to my /sadface

It took them less than 30 minutes to reply and destroy what was a positive relationship with someone that could have been a key affiliate.

An affiliate with an audience that wanted to hear more about Raven Tools.

OBVIOUSLY when I wrote the backlink checkers post I wasn’t trying to see which was the best one. I went to all that effort purely to find a way to rubbish Raven Tools in order to promote others… Apparently.

When Founders Take Control

Interestingly this email came from one of Raven Tools founders, notice the use of the phrase ‘my company’.

A person that is in charge of key business decisions and the future direction of Raven Tools.

The direction they have chosen to take, is not a good one.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it had come from an affiliate manager, but the fact it has come from a key decision maker in the business sets off alarm bells left, right & centre.

They are certainly taking an aggressive approach to negative reviews.

Write Good Stuff About Us Or Else!

The key quote from that email is this-

I seriously don’t mind fair criticism (which that was not) and I also don’t think it’s my place to tell you what to write. However, until we’re removed from that article, I have no desire to have you as an affiliate.

In essence, until I write something good about them, they are holding my affiliate account hostage.

Previously Raven Tools had told me my test was fair & thorough. Now they are telling me that it’s a misrepresentation & I was just looking for an opportunity to unfairly rubbish them.

They also don’t feel like it’s their place to tell me what to write but in the same sentence tell me to remove my honest review from the original post.

This certainly challenges their earlier communication to affiliates that stated the best way to generate sales was to provide an honest review.

What they actually meant to say was if you don’t write a positive honest review, we will shut you down.

Perhaps that’s why the affiliates that don’t write ‘honest’ reviews perform so poorly, because they don’t have an affiliate account anymore.

Sloppy drive by emails like that certainly don’t encourage me to write anything nice. But I will be honest.

Do Not Trust Raven Tools Reviews

So with that in mind, how can you trust any positive Raven Tools reviews?

They are actively scouring the internet and threatening people to remove any form of negativity about them across the web.

This sort of practice really grinds my gears.

Previously they were reaching out to people, building relationships and looking for ways to improve. What happened?

Although this email doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of their tools, you should check out their free trial and do your own evaluation!

What Are They Hiding?

I wanted to find out what was going on and had suddenly caused this threatening backlash.

So I responded with this email-

A pretty reasonable set of questions I thought.

They didn’t agree and ignored the email entirely! After throwing their toys out of the pram they wanted nothing more to do with the issue.

Over the next 2 weeks I sent them a few emails, each of which were ignored.

It really baffles me how we went from a positive relationship to this.

The Raven Tools founders were happy to slam me with threats and hold my affiliate account hostage. But when challenged on that, I might as well have been speaking to a brick wall.

Enough Is Enough

I gave them plenty of time to fix the relationship and after being continually ignored it was time to take action.

I sent them a final email this morning-

And I jumped onto Twitter to shine some light on the issue-

The Oldest Excuse In The Book

Taking the issue to Twitter certainly caused some alarm internally at Raven Tools.

Very quickly I received this email from Jon Henshaw – one of the company founders and coincidentally the chief marketing officer.

Notice the subject line of the email chain leading up to that is Matthew Woodward which involved Nate (user support specialist) and Courtney (community manager).

There had obviously been some internal discussion about this.

But instead of being straight, Jon went with one of the oldest tricks in the book claiming ‘for whatever reason he didn’t receive my responses’.

Raven Tools have created some of the world’s leading Internet Marketing tools but their founders & support team haven’t grasped email yet?

It took them 30 minutes to reply to my original email asking why my account was terminated.

It took them 2 weeks, 3 emails and a tweet to stop ignoring my questions.

Something doesn’t add up.

In their initial response it was clear I had touched a personal nerve of one of the company’s founders. They spat their dummy out said their piece and then flat out ignored me.

Only when they realised I was going to expose the fact they are strong arming affiliates were they interested in speaking to me.

As a former slave to the corporate world – this is pretty standard corporate behaviour.

Raven Tools Cannot Be Trusted

How can you trust a company that is either trying to force its affiliates into writing good things about them or to remove anything they don’t like?

That sort of attitude breeds a certain culture within businesses and as you can see.

Users trust their businesses and livelihoods with Raven Tools to help them make good business decisions.

Why can’t Raven Tools just be honest with us?

What Do Others Think?

I reached out to some other affiliates in the industry to see what they thought of this kind of practice.

Matthew BarbyFindMyBlogWay.com

I’m really surprised that a major player in the market would essentially deny affiliate access of an account based on not performing well within a test. I read the article that was written on the blog that ran a full comparison of all the tools and it seems to be a completely legitimate test?

This is a shining example of how not to manage your brand’s reputation, whether it’s openly across social media or privately within email, you’ve got to be fair and open to your customers.

Suggesting that negative results around your product be removed in exchange for an incentive isn’t a way to deal with an issue (yes, that isn’t explicitly stated, but I think we all know where they were going with the email).

The solution is to take on board the comments from a user and adapt your offering.

Jacob KingJacobKing.com

As affiliates, we deal with this type of crap all the time. 99% of affiliates lay down and take it. It can often be a powerless position giving us few options when wronged. Unfortunately for Raven Tools, Matthew is that 1%.

This situation obviously should have been handled differently. Although I must say this is an interesting approach to rep management, strong arming affiliates that rank for brand related terms with poor reviews.

Bottom line is we aren’t powerless if we speak out, so let’s make this real simple, reactivate Matt’s affiliate account and step your game up.

Charles FloateGodOfSEO.co

Now, I’m not one to get under people’s boots (hehe) but this was pretty stupid. There is some pretty reasonable things to assume out of this though. Either when their old guy left they’ve bought in some one new and he’s basically not been told what is going on OR (excuse my use of a Google footprint) the new email correspondent seems to of read your blog post and taken a Majestic stance even after building this relationship, though at least Majestic don’t call you ignorant and a few other insults thrown into the mix.

I’ve actually spoken with a few of the main guys at Majestic before, Raven just runs of Majestic’s API but only tends to update their index from the API every few months, and let me tell you Raven spend a quite large chunk of money on running through said API.

Also, a follow up to add onto this is that maybe we shouldn’t be promoting these damn marketing suites. This is the 2nd time I (and by my remembrance) Matt has been screwed by the exact same product, just by another company – Without any pre-notice (aka warning) Moz randomly shutdown their affiliate program when they were changing their brand from SEOMoz to Moz. In my opinion that was more to do with as they change brands, they get a ton more traffic from news/blog style sites and wanted to keep all that good PR money feeding their new bankroll.

Devin SantosIMDevin.com

It seems like Raven Tools completely went about this the wrong way. If this were my software or service receiving a less than stellar review of my product, the first thing I would do is reach out to the author to see if we can work together on improving the product.

Hell, I would even offer some compensation to the author just to provide me a list of all the areas they feel would make the biggest improvement with my product.

The way I see it is when something like this happens the company has a few different choices.

1) Talk to the author about working together and making improvements towards their product
2) Ignore the review of their product completely
3) Become defensive, ignore the opportunity for product improvement and make negative accusations towards the author.

It’s unfortunate to see a well-established company like Raven Tools took the latter route.

There is no doubt that this will end up hurting the company more in the long run then if they would have just reached out in the beginning and worked together to improve their product, but I guess even well established companies need to learn a lesson every once in a while.

Tom EwerLeavingWorkBehind.com

While one can argue the accuracy/fairness of your post if they want to (although from what I can see, one would be silly to), what you can’t argue with is that Raven Tools’ management of this incident has been terrible.

Put simply, from a brand management perspective, you shouldn’t — nay, mustn’t — treat people with anything other than respect, regardless of the way they treat you.

This situation reminds me of someone who left a review on Amazon saying that a Kindle book I was selling contained no useful information and was a “bait and switch” ploy. This was from someone who hadn’t actually purchased the book, and the product I was supposedly trying to bait and switch people into buying wasn’t even mentioned in the book.

I responded in a respectful manner in an attempt to clarify that I wasn’t trying to rip anyone off, and I still got torn to pieces by a bunch of people who couldn’t wait to get involved. Sometimes you can’t win, so at least do yourself a favour and give yourself the best possible chance!

You can be a complete angel and there’ll still be people out there trying to get you. Or you can screw up or provide a poor service and be the “victim” of some savvy reporting. It sounds like Raven Tools are in the second camp in this case and have dealt with the situation in a pretty shocking way. It’s a great example of what not to do.

Raven Tools Responds

Well you have to give it to Jon Henshaw – he has handled this like a true gent.

Matthew, after reading your post I have a much better idea of why you’re upset. I don’t think any of this would have happened if it wasn’t for me. I was having a bad day, saw your post and did something stupid. It’s easy to be passionate about something that is basically your baby.

I personally screwed up several times. First, I cancelled your affiliate account without having a dialogue with you first. (I just fixed that mistake by restoring your account, and I hope to talk to you person-to-person soon.) Second, I sent you a reply that was not professional. Third, I had communicated internally at the office that I was monitoring and communicating with you, so my team assumed that I had seen your followup messages that you sent to the affiliate email account. I didn’t see those until yesterday.

This really isn’t a Raven thing, it’s a Jon thing. Unfortunately, my actions are also connected to the company, so I also let down the amazing people who work here, along with my partners.

I want to publicly apologize to you and my company for how poorly I handled the situation. As you stated in your post, it’s an example of when a co-founder gets in the way of a good company trying to do good things.

It’s great to see that Raven Tools can be honest with us after all =D

Kudos to Jon and the rest of the Raven team.

A Shining Star

Jon has provided us and other businesses with a shining example of how to deal with things like this.

He took ownership of his mistake with great courage and lets be honest, he nailed it.

I haven’t had time to speak to Jon directly yet as I wanted to get this update published ASAP but we will catch up soon :)

Thank you again to Jon for stepping up! Perhaps you could share some tips with Dixon Jones or Sami Bouzaglo!

There is great opportunity to create a very unique case study off the back of this ;)

Try Raven Tools For Yourself

Don’t let Jon’s bad day reflect on the quality of the tools Raven Tools provide.

While I haven’t tried them myself, they do offer a free 30 day trial so you can make your own mind up!

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240 Responses

11.15.2013

Totally agree with your post there matt… As an affiliate you shouldn’t be bullied into a corner to write good things. It is obvious that these guys don’t want to enhance the users experience and the potential that this tool could have! They are pretty ignorant if you ask me…. But what also gets me and I am glad you are on the same level as me is that majestics is just rubbish.. I get better data sets off ahrefs and I pretty much tilt my hat off to them because these guys work harder and harder to give the user what they require within this industry. I hope this review gets pushed up in the serps and outs these guys… I don’t mean that in a nasty way.. But in a way that makes them think “Oh crap!” “We cocked that one up lads”… I think the best thing about this situation is people will read this and think twice about going with these guys… Its just your typical bunch of “SEO COWBOYS” haha … But on a serious note … I must pat you on the back matt this is a great journalist investigation outting those who take advantage of people like us….

Thanks for the post matt!!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Michael,

Actually if you check out their blog you will see they are working hard to enhance the tool on a weekly basis. More so than some competition in this space.

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11.15.2013

Timely post. I’ve almost bought this. There are lot of good things about Raven Tool. So is this the secret?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

What do you like about Raven Tools ?

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Akila Madusanka Reply:

No, I never used Raven Tools. I meant I was planning to buy this because there were lot of reviews that saying Raven was good. But I wonder this is how they get good reviews? thanks for Sharing. : – )

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well it could be that the tools are good – thats what the trial is for :)

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11.15.2013

“Raven Tools have created some of the world’s leading Internet Marketing tools but their founders & support team haven’t grasped email yet?”

That quote there gave me a very solid laugh!

Very good post Matthew. I’m not much for smearing campaigns and such, but it does appear that Raven Tools somewhat randomly decided to do a 180* on their policies. One can only assume that change in staff (in whatever degree) is the cause. Sad to see!

Also just a really horrible business move. As someone who deals primarily in advertising/branding and such, the relationship you had built up to this point would have been worth gold, in my opinion.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Philip,

It’s a less than ideal situation, but every cloud has a silver lining right!

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James
11.15.2013

Good read Matthew, real shame too see how Raven have responded here.

As a Raven customer, it’s definitely another blip on my radar – previously I’ve reached out to them when I was initially starting up my SEO company, to see if I could get some form of extended trial or discount whilst I grew, as budgets were tight. Not one care was given, I’ve not the energy to divulge, but it was extremely disappointing, and along with this, that’s two strikes by my counting.

Time to take a long cold look at yourselves Raven #bobcatsarealurking

….Smells like shit, usually is shit.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi James,

Well to be honest the price is usually the price, you will have found that to be the case with all providers in this area I would imagine.

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11.15.2013

That was really surprising considering Raven Tool have a Page rank 6 and having Alexa Ranking of less than 6000. One would only believe that this is a reputable company offering a reliable tools. But that changed after I read your review.

How could a founder of the biz telling their key affiliate to “xxxx” themself! Good post exposing their unethical way of business!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

His response doesn’t mean the tools are discredited themselves. They might actually be really useful/helpful BUT it does mean you cannot rely on reviews of them.

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11.15.2013

Hmm, that is quite a shock. Me & Raven & Jon follow each other on Twitter.

You know, I think this is a case of poor management, otherwise it would not explain why Jeremy was so open, then he left, then who ever took over clearly has no PR reasoning and really sad management skills.

That’s because whenever you do criticism, and I’ve been reading most of your stuff for the past months, you are not criticizing the person, but rather the idea or the product.

And to read this post it’s clearly you’re at your wit’s end (think that is the correct expression).

What Raven needs to do – and I’m trying to be really impartial here and objective – is to:
1) Understand that a review is a review of products and ideas, not people in the company
2) Understand that no tools is perfect, but all tools are perfectible. Having a blogger and SEO guy dedicate his time to run an analysis for free – not even faithful employees would spend so much time and dedication – is truly a gift. No hard feelings.
3) Make a public apology so that future startups and backlink tool companies can learn. Make it as an example of “That’s not the way to handle things” and write a post on their official blog about “What we have learned after this unfortunate event”.
4) My dear Raven guys, you gotta handle communication in your company in a more appropriate professional manner. And work on that management. Bad management can kill a company’s future and you were one of the most promising I’ve ever seen in this past year.

I admit, I am disappointed a bit, but I’m also aware that it is human to err. I’m really hoping to see a follow-up on this and a lot of maturity from the Ravens in handling this event.
*feeling like I’m seeing a rugby game, lol*

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Roxana,

Thanks for your comment!

It is a fine line to walk when writing a post like this and the main issue is it focused on 1 part of their offering rather than all of it, but that could have been fixed in a couple of emails – readers wanted it!

But this response doesn’t necessarily mean they suck as an internet marketing tools provider. The dev team won’t be tightly knitted with the marketing team.

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Roxana Reply:

Matt,
The idea is that as a company, you are responsible for how employees and management act. If the management is not working accordingly, it leads to situations such as these.

While it is not to blame the entire company and their entire departments (supposing each department handles specific products & tasks), I still think that the management – in this certain position – of the marketing team did a huge mistake.

It doesn’t matter if I, as a person working in a company or collaborating with it, am very frustrated about something. But once I represent that brand, that company, I have to remember my ethics and respond in a proper manner (not like the email with “it’s my company” – it’s my toy). Then, if you know someone in your marketing department has left a big “shit” in a public place – the online is a big place – (sorry for the language, just being straight honest), you actually have to clean it and teach them a lesson, not say “it’s actually an illusion”, “there is nothing there, it’s all nice and sparkly”).

You can’t run away from reality and create your own reality or diversion, expecting others to just be “collateral victims”. You have to take responsibility and say “yeah, we did bad” and show the other party that you value their opinions.

I’ve asked them on Twitter (both Jon and the official RavenTools account) what is their stand on all this. Everyone deserves to explain how they feel. You did very well explaining and showing proof. Now I’m waiting for their response and their call to action.
‘Cause there is still time to repair what has been damaged.

In my opinion, of course.
p.s.1. They haven’t yet replied.
p.s.2. I’m gambling here their two “following on Twitter”. :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Take a look at he update Roxana :)

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Roxana Reply:

Matt,

I’m so glad to see Jon taking the courage to admit his actions and to publicly apologize. This is how the management should act in order to turn unfortunate events into real life examples. Wishing there could be more people out there to follow the courage.

In the end, as I said before, to err is human.
It’s good when everything is settled. :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Theres a lot Ravens marketing team can do with this – an opportunity to explore for sure!

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11.15.2013

Right. Because top affiliates don’t talk to each other at all. This was completely idiotic of them, and I hope they get exactly what they deserve.

What was an opportunity to correct whatever initial issues were found has turned into a social media nightmare. Some affiliates will try to use this opportunity to highlight the strengths and pad their paychecks, but the smart thing to do is for others like you to continue to expose these shameful people.

What can you say? LOL “That’s SO Raven!”

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Affiliate management is certainly a fine art!

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11.15.2013

Way to go… if they werent upset enough before then they sure as hell will be now:):):)

Nice to see you taking a stance and allowing the world to see the real raven business in action..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

It’s not about upset!

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11.15.2013

Good timing, i just signed up on a trial with RT :-)

Looks like the wrong co-founder got put in charge of pubrel – you touched a nerve and RT haven’t handled it well.

Still, it reads as if you’re reaction too is a little overboard by accusing them of strong-arming (and quoting Mr. Float -> seriously?)

Doesn’t look like they’re saying only to publish only positives, but to balance the weaknesses you found in their tool by placing it better in the context of the wider offers of those your comparing.

Put the boot on another foot: you’re telling them their precious baby is ugly :-)
How would you feel if someone published that this blog was strong on tool tutorials, but pretty weak on IM tactics and really not much more than an cover for spamming aff links?

Anyway – why should you care for losing an aff -> you have much greater opportunities in front of you rather than worrying about leaving pennies on the table. Keep writing the truth and giving value.

best

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

What do you think of it so far?

They were placed in context, the post was a data driven case study about backlink checkers. Although they pass through majestic data, this isn’t live. Hence why they didn’t perform as well as Majestic.

As that is part of their front end offering, its perfectly valid to measure.

If someone said that, I would say go through the last 5-6 months of posts and tell me how many have affiliate links :)

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11.15.2013

Matthew,

I couldn’t stop reading this post! It fascinated me to see how such a massive player within our industry can behave towards there close companions.

Ive never really been a fan of the Raven toolset anyway but this just makes me dislike them even more.

Have you seen the post they wrote regarding Hubspot? Im not a user of Hubspot either and I dont intend to be but just have a look at how they used negative words to almost slander Hubspot within the Inbound Marketing industry.

http://squawk.im/industry-news/inbound-marketing-incomplete/

Looks like your friend Jon Henshaw again!

Anyway, thanks a lot for writing this post. I love that you’re so honest. We can all really trust the advice that you give and thats why I will continue to read your blog into the future.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Thanks for the link interesting write up!

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Quentin Pain Reply:

Actually Jon makes a good point in that link. The concept of ‘Inbound Marketing’ always confused me (because it sounds so easy and appealing!). As he says, you need to do ‘outbound Marketing’ (writing good content for example) in order to get people to take action and get your ‘inbound marketing’ to work. But back to the point. All they needed to do was invest in a good PR person (like the affiliate manager Matt was dealing with in the first place). At the end of the day, it all comes down to responsibility.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Have a look at the update. Responsible they are!

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Quentin Pain Reply:

The questions are, has this episode damaged the brand? Will that affect jobs at Raven? What happened to Jeremy? And, do you still think they should not be trusted?

I suppose the confusion is that of trust. If they are not to be trusted, then why look at the update? How does that change the trust? Do they make a humble apology to try to win it back? And if not, why not? So many questions and so little time.

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Jeremy Rivera Reply:

Hey Quentin! I have transitioned to a local agency in franklin as their Senior SEO. It pained me to see the relationship I’d built get damaged, but I did appreciate Jon owning his mistake(Take a moment to read the update!). I still use Raven tools at my new job and hope you still give them a shot :)

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11.15.2013

Matt, thanks for this post. No, honestly! I’m usually always on the search for tools having a look what could improve my workflow / process, save me some time etc.

I definitely see that Raven Tools is definitely not for me. They may have the greatest product in the world, however, I would never want to base any business decision (finding a keyowrd evaluating the competition) using a service from a company like that. I could never be sure if they change the rules of the game and -BAM- business has a problem. It’s already enough to base business decisions on Google’s always changing algorithm changes ;-)

Matt, once more, your contents are brilliant! Rock on!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well the actual product looks much more developed now and just look at how often they add features.

You should still take a look at it and make your own evaluation!

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11.15.2013

Thanks Matt for such a stunning review on Raven Tools.

I am not interested to hurt the reputation of the company or anything really, but honestly speaking each time i try their tools i get disappointed.

In my opinion, they must invest at enhancing their tools before fixing their relationships with affiliate marketers. A good product does not need marketing, criticisms or reviews… it speaks of itself.

If Raven tools are forcing affiliates to write good stuff, then they are well aware that their tool doesn’t stand out from the crowd otherwise, they could have let their affiliates talk the way they like.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Could you be more specific about the things you don’t like about Raven Tools?

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11.15.2013

Hey Matt,

Great post here – the internet world needs people like you to expose businesses like Raven Tools who give every incentive for bloggers to remove anything negative. So shady…

I’m not usually one to wish bad things upon businesses, but with the way they handled this whole situation, I can’t see why anyone would trust them for anything. Hopefully this will significantly impact their business and they will be forced to change their practices.

- Eric

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for your kind words Eric :)

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11.15.2013

I read your backlink checker article and saw your battle with Majestic SEO, but I have still signed up with them. I took note of what you said and weighed up what I needed from this type of company and made my own decision. I was just happy to get some better IMPARTIAL insight into these services, I will probably sign up with AHrefs in future from that.

It’s sad to see that Raven had looked at your critique originally as an opportunity to improve their offering and then suddenly done a U-turn taking it as a personal criticism and decided to bite.

If the people you had referred to Raven via your affiliate account never fully signed up or cancelled their subscriptions, it’s probably because they did not receive the value they expected from the service.

Keep up the good work! :)

Will

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well the main thing about backlink checkers is they all suck individually, you need to combine them to get the best results.

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11.15.2013

Matt,

It looks like these guys have really shot themselves in the foot. Most of us can sense an overhyped review as soon as we look at it.

Personally I dont even read 99% of sites because I know they are affiliates strictly trying to push the product.

The way you go about it is honest and to the point. I think that’s effective, even for the products that don’t get 5 stars.

Some of us don’t need the absolute best product at the highest price. We need something good enough for our needs at a fair price. So even a company like RavenTools would have had a fair shot in an honest review.

Expecting affiliates to write nothing but overhyped junk is a sure way to ruin any chance they have at gaining a decent market share.

Thanks for the heads up.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Al,

Thats very true and often people aren’t looking buy a product, they are looking to solve a problem!

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11.15.2013

If I slag off RavenTools too, can I get a follow link to my blog as well?

Kidding, I wouldn’t worry too much about their affiliate program – it’s another tool written by programmers, not SEOs – I bet 90% of their customers don’t even use it – they just buy it to put a check in a box marked “SEO resolved”.

You can do more with Excel, Ahrefs and free tools than you can with their dated tools. It’s no surprise they’re trying to smother criticism when they’re trying to hide the fact they’ve built 2004′s best SEO tool.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

HI James,

Could you provide more tangible examples of the things you could do with free tools?

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Mihai Reply:

I apologize for the shameless promotion, but here’s something I built a few months ago using Excel and any backlink provider which allows you to find common sites that link to your competitors but not to you: http://moz.com/blog/competitive-link-analysis-link-intersect-in-excel (basically a replication of Moz’s Competitive Link Finder / Link Intersect tool).

It’s not entirely free I guess since you do need a backlink provider, but I think it’s something along the lines that James is talking about.

PS: Awesome post Matt! Pretty sad that happened, I’ve met Jon Henshaw in a few of Max Minzer’s hangouts which I really enjoyed.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for the share!

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codingideas Reply:

well, I like the new raven tools software. Its grew up since I first looked into it 3-4 years ago for sure. The flow there is logical and can help achieve results for sure. Also while I started off as a SEO with free tools like http://www.backlinkwatch.com I do think that at the end of the day is: ‘what tools work best for you’ and ‘what do you do to achieve actionable data’ and ‘if/when you implement that – are you getting results.’ What had the most effect.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Wise words :) We all start somewhere and there is rarely a one size fits all solution.

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11.15.2013

And even though you are frustrated you are still giving them a link and telling people to evaluate them. Seems you did take the high road after all. :O)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well without them I couldn’t have published the original backlink checkers post!

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Nev
11.15.2013

Hi Matt

Didn’t the crew at Raven read (& learn) from the Majestic fiasco? There are good & bad ways to do everything.

Matt Your site demonstrates what every facet of a good sound solid business ethos should be, in fact your site is THE BEST case study anyone in business (internet or bricks and mortar) could ever wish to analyse.

To all marketers, business owners etc take a good hard look at Matts site from a 10,000ft viewpoint to be enlightened. You will learn more about “How to Do Business” that even the best of educations could ever provide.

As for Raven only you can save the day BUT the damage is already done!

Raven here’s how to cut your training bill – send a link over to all your customer service reps to study the majestic post and as a bonus send a link over to the ceo’s as a refresher and then… thank Matt

good luck

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Funny you should say that, I did think to myself – surely they clicked the massive update link at the top of the post before replying like this.

Obviously not ^^

Thanks for your kind words!

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11.15.2013

Hi Matt,

First time I have seen an article of this nature on any of the blogs I follow, so well done for breaking the mould and getting the truth out there.

It gives a real good insight into what goes on “behind the scenes” in the internet marketing world – and how companies can try and manipulate favourable reviews.

Be interesting to see if they get back to you after this post.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

You’ll see quite a few like this tucked away in the blogs archives ;)

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11.15.2013

I’m interested in their response? Didn’t they eventually respond before you posted this? What did they say?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Please see the update!

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11.15.2013

I am amazed at how bad Raven Tools has handled this situation. I am going to move all my clients off the platform and going to start using things like – bringshare.com and webmeup.com.

Thanks for exposing them for what they are – SHAME ON YOU RAVEN TOOLS!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Do webmeup offer similar set of tools? I thought they were primarily a backlink checker?

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11.15.2013

This is a kick in the ass Matt, well done.

And this one is epic “Raven Tools have created some of the world’s leading Internet Marketing tools but their founders & support team haven’t grasped email yet?”

:D

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

^^

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11.15.2013

Hey Matthew,

I’ve got a little off-topic comment regarding this scene:.
“When I asked Matt Cutts what he likes & dislikes about the blog he said…”

It looked to me like a gangsters’ leader invites a head of police to the gang’s shelter and asks what the police officer thinks about their house. And the head of police looks around at all the stuff like newly printed queer money, guns on the floor and the blood on walls and answers – “Well, I’d repaint the walls”.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Actually he has made it clear he doesn’t agree with a lot of the topics on the blog, like spinning for example :P

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11.15.2013

I do think your Tweet was a little bit provocative, to be honest. And of course they would need to escalate the issue and send it over to a “higher up” if a popular blog is bashing the product – it makes sense to me.

It just seems someone lower down the organisation dropped the ball and didn’t give you appropriate service early on. Once they realised things were “serious” they decided to involve someone a little more important. That’s not necessarily a reflection of company policy or the ethical nature of the entire business (and directors). It just means that some grunt (or even marketing manager) didn’t handle it well.

About the original review – - I do think it was a terrible move by the person who originally made the decision to cancel your account (without warning) and then ignored your follow-up email. It’s not a good way to treat people.

Nevertheless, I can understand the action (not condone it, big difference) and I also believe you’re misrepresenting what the original email said – I really don’t see that as “blackmail”. Your tweet also seems to be a little “The Sun” or something – - a headline like that would have me expecting far more negative behaviour e.g. cancelling accounts with money in them or something and something a little bit more threatening for the “blackmail”.

I DON’T think the email says that you HAVE to write a positive review OR ELSE in order to be an affiliate. I can kinda see the point of why they felt the backlink checker review misrepresented their overall brand. When glancing at their site, it looks like a small portion of what they actually do. Your review mentioned in a single sentence that you didn’t feel it was very good on the whole but didn’t really say why. The backlink checker was the only thing you analysed, but the overall feeling from the review was that it wasn’t up to scratch overall. You didn’t really specify why.

I can understand the complaint from their end – there’s a review on a popular blog that is essentially negative on the whole but really only covers one small aspect in any detail.

This is what you say:

“In a way Raven Tools is like SEOMoz as it provides a suite of tools for managing your online campaigns.
However it isn’t quite as developed as the SEOMoz offering and I find it lacking in a lot of places. The back end design is really poor and a big let down from the impressive front end.”

I’m guessing that they felt that this blanket statement was a little unfair, considering the review in this case only really looked at the backlinks in any detail. The other aspects of Raven weren’t really covered, YET from my point of view as a reader I got the feeling that the entire product is subpar based on the above statement. From this, I CAN see why a creator would be a little upset/irked/annoyed and would prefer a more detailed and in-depth review of the whole set of tools. After all, perhaps their backlink checker is one of the few elements that aren’t that great, but the other services make it worth becoming a member. Perhaps a FULL review is your next step?!

However, from cancelling your account is where things start going from bad to worse for Raven. Cancelling account without warning (popular blog owner no less), not replying to your detailed response and figuring out some sort of solution, and then their customer service/marketing team really handling it wrong completely (letting it come to this basically).

However, I do think some of your claims are a little sensationalist!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Alex,

Quite possibly the longest comment I have ever seen =D

Take a look at the update – it was Jon (company founder) that replied initially and not someone lower down the chain. But Jon has gone above and beyond in his response!

I think anyone reading a post about backlink checkers is aware that the post is only focusing on the backlink checking aspect of a service. Whether that is a small part of the service is largely irrelevant if it’s been advertised as a feature on the front end sales proposition.

How are we meant to know how good their backlink checker is if we don’t test it?

My opinion at the time was that Raven was subpar to SEOMoz. At that point the interface was very difficult to use and was certainly not easy on the eye and if anyone had asked me which to pick for wider campaign management, I would have told them (and still would) to pick Moz.

If Raven wanted a full/more detailed review of the tools – well they could have had that. Jeremy had built the relationship to that point and readers wanted it as well. That isn’t what they asked for though. My questions/response to the cancellation was trying to find a solution – they weren’t interested :(

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Alex CS Reply:

Yeah, I do get that it was Jon for that initial round. I was referring to the second one. But yes, I’m actually not surprised he responded and the reasons seems fair enough as well from his end. They DID drop the ball anyway and it’s turned into a bit of a mess and that’s Jon’s fault for sure.

I also agree that it’s completely fair that you check their backlink tool — after all, it is advertised. However, I can also see WHY they felt there was a slight misrepresentation in the review. I agree with the other person who made the comment about LTP. I suppose a small disclaimer paragraph would have been good but you can’t always cater to all needs/wants. I do really look forward to a full review of the product! :-)

Still – - do you not think your headlines and tweets were a little too News of the World? I suppose it’s a good way to get readers to check out the blog. Considering how many emails I’m getting about followup comments I’m guessing it did the trick!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I suppose its fine line to walk as a blogger. I have to remain impartial while managing positive relationships with negative associations.

Imagine how awkward it was when SEO Spyglass came last after the company had just given me thousands of dollars of prizes =/

At the same time I have an audience to educate/engage. It’s like being a teacher, a journalist and an entertainer at the same time. Its very hard to balance!

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11.15.2013

I’m always surprised when companies do this, as if it won’t immediately get exposed and shared with a million other people. My only explanation is that someone gets emotional (angry at your less than 5-star review) and writes something reactionary. Thirty years ago it wouldn’t have been surprising but today? C’mon people, this never ends well.

Just think of all the folks who get strong armed because it’s a big revenue source for them and they don’t want to anger the golden goose…

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Jim,

Thats the world we live in today:)

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11.15.2013

Fascinating read. Couldn’t believe an owner would handle affiliate correspondence. This is just another example of letting things sink in before sending emails in a rage.

Shame on Raven.

A friend of mine just signed up for Raven Tools and is still on the free trial. Definitely going to share this article with him.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Let us know what your friend thinks of the trial!

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11.15.2013

Hi Matt,

To play devils advocate…

Personally I don’t see the upside in this post – the threat you raised warranted a response, and you did get one. Wait for another day – gather all the information and then talk about it. I get the feeling this is an ‘unfinished’ post and I’m sure that we’ll receive the response from Raven and from you – but at that point the comments you made will have stuck in our minds – the damage to their brand from anyone reading this post is already done.

I can see their point too – if they don’t want to pay you commissions going forward because they feel (rightly or wrongly, it’s their call) that you have brought negative press to them – that’s their prerogative – it would be galling to pay someone a fat affiliate cheque for a product that they did more damage to than good.

Perhaps they don’t want to deal with you anymore because they know that in an unbiased test they won’t come out at the top – and they would be made to look a little rubbish. That makes sense to me, even though it’s rude!

If this is a question of them not paying the affiliate commissions that you are owed then that shows a company you can’t trust – but I see a company that has an owner who has made a pretty bad call, and then failed to manage the situation properly afterwards.

Anyway – I’m engaged and love this blog, and whether you intend it or not I won’t buy a product from Raven – and I bet a lot of your readers will do the same either consciously or not.

I guess that means you have influence :)

Steve

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Steve,

Take a look at Ravens awesome response!

You bring up some valid points but I don’t believe affiliate relationships should purely be focused on money. There is so much more value to bring to the table than that.

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11.15.2013

The affiliate manager was wrong on this one. You wrote an honest review comparing the various backlink checkers on the market and Raven Tools (in your opinion) wasn’t up to snuff.

To tell you the truth, if their product stood on it’s own they would care less what other people were saying about it. Anyways, I plan on checking them out myself,like you said we shouldn’t just take you word for it. Have a good one!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Come back and let us know what you think!

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11.15.2013

Did you try to reach to Jeremy??
Maybe he can tell more.

Leo

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I have reached out to him

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11.15.2013

Thats’s the example of worst client engagement (affiliates are also clients) by a company working in internet space.

They need to get their basics right :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Solid foundations build solid houses :)

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Alistair
11.15.2013

I think this hits upon the whole problem with affiliate marketing.

As an affiliate you are a partner with a company and they pay you to promote their product. They want to drive sales, it’s the only reason for a business to have an affilate program.

I think Raven are perfectly within their rights to not partner with anyone that they feel is not representing them in a good way. Why would a business want to pay for this? Would you pay me to slag off your blog? If I had a product I don’t think I’d be keen on paying anyone for negative reviews, it’s simple business.

If a company wants to do the right thing re. affilate marketing the answer is to not have an affiliate marketing program in the first place. The whole system encourages postive reviews that may or may not be true.

Thank’s to affiliate programs it’s a total minefield for the consumer trying to figure out what tools to use.

Thanks to affiliate programs we are relying on the integrity of a affiliate manger to allow negative reviews or the integrity of a blogger/marketer to only push products that they truely believe in.

Unfortunately I think that integrity is a bit thin on the ground, that’s not a comment regards yourself Matthew. Frankly, I’ve read your blog for the last month and you have lots of good information I honestly couldn’t say if everything you recommend is 100% genuine (no attack intended). But how do you judge the integrity of an affiliate marketer?

Readers of your blog will no doubt be aware of how widespread affiliate marketing is but most members of the general public don’t even know about it.

Btw I like your blog and I wouldn’t slag it off anyway :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Alistair,

I disagree that affiliate marketing (from a business > affilitate perspective) is solely about making money. It’s about creating two way relationships that can be used to improve the product/service.

Affiliates are much more sensitive the market and usually know what people want/need – they are a valuable source of information above and beyond sales.

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Tyronne Ratcliff Reply:

You make a great point Matt. It’s us affiliates who are in the trenches everyday getting feedback from our customers.

What I don’t understand is why they (Raven Tools) don’t see this as constructive criticism. I believe this speaks volumes about how much influence you have in the affiliate marketing space.

Have an awesome weekend!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks Tyronne!

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Stuart
11.15.2013

Ha Ha the new Roger Cook!!

Go on give it some….

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hahaha I doubt that ^^

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11.15.2013

Cool! thanks Matt for expose another round of T-Bags.
Soooo Not only will a not be Purchasing Anything Majestic, but it looks like Raven is black listed as well (great going Raven).

I cant afford Ahref right now so I had to GB, but guess what? At least they are getting my money. When I can, I will purchase an Ahref account for my-self.

Link-Assistant For sure as well!

So Raven, how do you like them apples?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Do ravens eat apples?

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11.15.2013

I’ve been happily using Raven Tools for a couple of years (started when they still offered rank tracking), but haven’t really touched the backlink analyzer.

Raven Tools generates automated white label reports to send to clients, though some important metrics aren’t available, like audience geography beyond country level. But the reports look good, and help with the perception of value you offer clients.

The site audit finds onsite SEO issues, and the site finder shows top links for keyphrases, both nice timesavers. However, they don’t replace other tools I use for keyword and backlink research.

The social tools are also useful, though the the alerts are clumsy (have to click email notification to login to view the social mention, it should be right there in the email).

The link manager is a convenient way to monitor your vital links, and the article content tools are helpful for organizing. Sure you could use spreadsheets, but project management is easier when your VA can just add articles and links to a client’s campaign in Raven Tools.

It’s not perfect. But, it is enough of a time saver to make the monthly subscription well worth it for me.

I am disturbed by their interaction with you Matthew. And I admire your professionalism in asking readers to try out the trial for themselves and that you point out in the article and comments that the tools may be helpful, clarifying that your beef is with ethics with affiliate reviews.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Sterling,

Thanks very much – glad to hear of your positive experience with the tools!

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11.15.2013

Hi Matt,

I was just talking to Charles (GodOfSEO) and he forwarded me to this article. I can’t believe this happened, this is the stupidest thing they could do. If I have an account with them I am cancelling it :P

- @dinwal

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well you should ask yourself, do the tools do what you need?

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11.15.2013

Hi Matthew

I read your original article and it was well done. I am baffled to by their attitude to think they can bully people into providing only good reviews.

** Attention Raven Tools – Go Fu*k Yourself ..what a bunch of idiots you are. How dare you tell someone what they can and can’t do or else. Sounds rather draconian to me and certainly I wouldn’t touch this company. Great job idiot founders – you just got bad social press.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Perhaps a little harsh ^^

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Darrell Reply:

Yup that was my point to be harsh because I don’t like bullies of any kind. This is your blog and you can write about anything you choose and how you convey that message. You provided an opinion based upon a set of parameters. Raven Tools scored poorly compared to the others. Simple and straight forward data analysis.

If someone tries to censor me because they didn’t like an open and honest review – I tell them exactly where to go and how to get there. Business is business and if there tools are not up to par – then they have some work to do now don’t they?

Perhaps Raven will get their shit together and realize you are actually trying to help them make a better product.

Cheers dude and as always appreciate your in depth articles..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Darrell,

Fair points :)

More to come ^^

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Dan
11.15.2013

Brand Fail

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Which can always turn into brand opportunity!

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11.15.2013

Matthew, after reading your post I have a much better idea of why you’re upset. I don’t think any of this would have happened if it wasn’t for me. I was having a bad day, saw your post and did something stupid. It’s easy to be passionate about something that is basically your baby.

I personally screwed up several times. First, I cancelled your affiliate account without having a dialogue with you first. (I just fixed that mistake by restoring your account, and I hope to talk to you person-to-person soon.) Second, I sent you a reply that was not professional. Third, I had communicated internally at the office that I was monitoring and communicating with you, so my team assumed that I had seen your followup messages that you sent to the affiliate email account. I didn’t see those until yesterday.

This really isn’t a Raven thing, it’s a Jon thing. Unfortunately, my actions are also connected to the company, so I also let down the amazing people who work here, along with my partners.

I want to publicly apologize to you and my company for how poorly I handled the situation. As you stated in your post, it’s an example of when a co-founder gets in the way of a good company trying to do good things.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

HI Jon,

I have updated the post with your response and will drop you an email when I get a chance!

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Quentin Pain Reply:

Kudos to you Jon. You just answered a whole bunch of questions I added in a comment that is still in moderation as I write. Well done. That takes courage.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

There you go :)

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Kenneth Morrison Reply:

Jon Henshaw,
Thank you for your open and public apology to Matthew Woodward.

I would like to point out that your actions ALSO came across badly to Affiliates and Users of Raven Tools. I thought that I would point that out since you neglected the rest of Us.

So it’s not really just about your actions towards Matt but other affiliates and users of Raven Tools: because this happened with Matt I have to assume this happened to someone else, or will happen again in the future unless something is done to prevent it
That concerns me as an apology is just a formal acceptance that there is a problem not a solution.

So Jon, what I want to know is- what will you Personally do to keep this from happening again with yourself and with Raven Tools?

-Kenneth

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Kenneth,

I think they will be moving forward from this positively!

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Kenneth Morrison Reply:

Yes, Matthew but I really do want to know.

Jon Henshaw: What can you do better next time?
(For yourself and your company)

-Kenneth

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11.15.2013

I love the details you provided about your entire correspondence w/ Raven Tools. I also just wanted to say how much I appreciate you standing up to them and not giving into their ‘nasty’ ways. You’re a strong and mighty voice for the people! :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

It was the only way to approach it!

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11.15.2013

Great Post Matt (As always – lol) This is so typical of the behavior of companies, and for most of us who are just getting established we just get dumped and that is the end of it. One of the interesting things I find is the initial rebuttal was “this is just a passthrough of SEO Majestic” so he is admitting his software really doesn’t add any value, but is just using another services’ api.

Anyway, I really enjoy your blog and the information you share with us for those of us that can’t keep up with it like you do.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

While it is a pass through it does seem that Raven Tools takes a dump/cache of this and only updates it every so often.

So if Majestic are updating 10 times a day, and raven are only updating once a month. Well that’s something that should be highlighted, especially since it seems like the data is as upto date as Majestics is on the surface.

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11.15.2013

so wait if i trash talk your website i won’t be getting the newsletter whenever you, a sad pretext for a SEO/blogger, write something your ego tags worthy of your followers ?

as Mutt Cunts told you stop harassing people with your sewage grade content filled with aff links :)

have a nice SEM Life … oh btw… still waiting for your reply to my PM on BHW but i guess since Mr. Cunts is answering your emails you’re pretty much done with the “small fish” who try to get a hold of you :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Mike,

Not at all – I ask people for negative feedback all the time. I’ve got an email dedicated to collecting it!

It’s not possible to improve without that kind of feedback.

Unfortunately I’ve got BHW PM’s spanning back for 6 odd months now, the best way to get in touch with me is via email directly.

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11.15.2013

Great article Matthew! It’s a shame that this is the way the situation had to be resolved, but Raven really left you no choice. I also hope they issue an apology and make the situation right. Sounds like they made a big mistake losing their affiliate manager.

Keep up the good work!

PS. When you going to perform the split test on your profile pic in the top right. Since we talked about it a few months ago I look every time I come to the blog to see if you are trying out a new pic.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Take a look at the update!

I have something more drastic I’m working on ;)

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From Raven’s perspective, it is hard to pay a lot of money and put your heart and soul into something … and then get “critiqued” for it. In fact, I think most entrepreneurs get into business for themselves just so they don’t have to answer to anyone.

And then, posts like yours hits a soft spot for them, and they pitch a fit.

That said, there are 2 take-aways that I think all affiliates should notice in this situation:

1. Communicate: In my case, I have an excellent plan to promote a site. I’ve communicated that to my affiliate managers of the programs involved so they know that I am not actively working their program. One of them raised my commission percentage because of it.

Communication also holds me accountable to them. It means I get shit done.

It also helps me be one of the first to hear about account changes since those things tend to come up in the course of conversation.

I think if you had let them know that you were getting ready to do a more in-depth review it would have either sped up the “falling axe” or helped you stay ahead of it.

2. The danger of just doing a partial review. Honest reviews are critical. This is why I love your blog. But I think there is a danger in just reviewing one part of a program (also something the co-founder alluded to). For example, if I were to review Long Tail Pro just for its rank-tracking feature, it would lose. But, when taken holistically, it is an excellent SEO tool.

At the end of the day, they made the decision that they thought was best for their company.
You made the decision that was best for internet marketers everywhere (ironically, their customer base)

I wouldn’t be buying stock in Raven Tools anytime soon.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

While I agree with that – the only way to imrpove is be critiqued. You must be told on a regular basis what you are doing well, and what you are not doing well.

I have an email in my autoresponder specifically written to get that information and I have made key decisions around the blog off the back of those.

Don’t forget my initial post was not a review of any services or tools. It was answering a question that comes up on forums multiple times per day.

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11.15.2013

Reply from Jon Henshaw. http://www.inbound.org/articles/view/why-raven-tools-must-not-be-trusted

Seems he is graceful enough to admit when he’s wrong.
I commented on the post, but it’s awaiting moderation. This is what I said in case you’re interested:

“Matthew, after reading your post I have a much better idea of why you’re upset. I don’t think any of this would have happened if it wasn’t for me. I was having a bad day, saw your post and did something stupid. It’s easy to be passionate about something that is basically your baby.

I personally screwed up several times. First, I cancelled your affiliate account without having a dialogue with you first. (I just fixed that mistake by restoring your account, and I hope to talk to you person-to-person soon.) Second, I sent you a reply that was not professional. Third, I had communicated internally at the office that I was monitoring and communicating with you, so my team assumed that I had seen your followup messages that you sent to the affiliate email account. I didn’t see those until yesterday.

This really isn’t a Raven thing, it’s a Jon thing. Unfortunately, my actions are also connected to the company, so I also let down the amazing people who work here, along with my partners.

I want to publicly apologize to you and my company for how poorly I handled the situation. As you stated in your post, it’s an example of when a co-founder gets in the way of a good company trying to do good things.”

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I have updated the post with his response and other thoughts :)

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11.15.2013

You are more patient than I am! I would have never sent them so many follow up emails. I am sick and tired of companies treating their affiliates like shit when we bring them extra sales!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well I knew there was a story to be told and gave them as much opportunity as I could.

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11.15.2013

Everyone’s out to get you Matthew!!

In all seriousness, I am curious to see how this unfolds. You’ve created a legitimate PR problem for Raven. Their target demographic is going on in the comments section about how their perception of the company has been changed and how they no longer trust the brand.

If Raven doesn’t address this issue head on, I will lose a massive amount of respect for the company. They have a community management team, they are, no doubt, aware of the post – it’s their turn to respond, or their brand will continue to be damaged.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Let’s just say they owned it with the response!

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11.15.2013

Great post Matt.

I would love to be a fly on the wall in their next management meeting!

A shame how they’ve handled the situation but I think it’s necessary for (often expensive) tools in the industry be open to objective critique.

Other companies in the industry should take note.

A badly handled PR nightmare but arguably a great opportunity for Raven.

The measure of the company will be how they respond in the near future.

No such thing as bad press….

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well after the update I’ve just posted I believe they have everything they need to turn this into a huge uplift for the company with some creating thinking!

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Dan
11.15.2013

Would be interested to hear what their old affiliate manager would have to say about it now!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’ll try and reach out to him!

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11.15.2013

These stupid companies don’t know it’s internet world. One people having such a bad experience with their service can effect their hundreds of sales.

I am laughing at those guys, they are messing with Internet Influencer – Matt

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Don’t forget the internet is a very new world & a strange place! Very much in it’s infancy still.

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Kenneth Morrison Reply:

Yup! The internet is barely old enough to drink let a alone lose it’s virginity :D

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hahaha ^^

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11.15.2013

Well that could have been handled a tad better.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Take a look at the update!

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11.15.2013

Matt, what a great write up and very thorough. We shouldn’t take this bullying from companies who get most of their revenue from hard working affiliates. I sense a new website coming – “Affiliate Programs Exposed” lol

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

What would you feature in that?

Test they are tracking commissions properly etc? I know who my first target would be ;)

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brian
11.15.2013

you would think tools like raven would embrace affiliates especially SEO affiliates because most buyers are doing online searches first comparing tools than just buying as “cold” traffic. Warm buyers are the ones who will convert to sales rather than the cold traffic just bails after free trials.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well the search results for ‘Raven Tools’ and ‘Raven Tools Review’ look a bit different now.

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11.15.2013

Maybe Raven should have written your review for you instead???
After all, if they wanted your opinion -they would have told you what it was.

“Raven Fools” will be off my list. Thanks for the honest share and outing of these charlatans.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Touche ^^

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11.15.2013

http://www.reactiongifs.com/popcorn-gifs/

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Anom nom!

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11.15.2013

Completly agree with you. I quit using them a while ago. I don’t like companies that don’t respect me…

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

What problems did you face?

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11.15.2013

Pretty worrying if a company only wants affiliates to promote positive comments. I used Raven for 6 months, I also tested their affiliate program with Share A Sale, didn’t do well with either.

Good article regardless, keep up the good work.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks James!

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Dan
11.15.2013

Thanks for this Matt!

Once upon a job, I was the head SEO for a US-based fitness franchise, with an assistant in local search and brand/reputation management.

One of the tools we had available was Raven, which we ran alongside other comparison tools for our data, and wound up killing off Raven and going with Backlink Monitor/Ahrefs highest tier account to compile the data we needed. It just wasn’t cutting it for the type of volume we were doing with linkbuilding and SEO in general. This was around March last year, I’m sure they’ve changed the back end.

But all things aside, I’m waiting to see a company response as graceful and accommodating as Amy’s Baking Company come from a marketing company.

Keep it coming!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

That is a problem with all backlink checkers. For example-

1) None of them provide a complete view
2) None of them provide live data

It’s basically a case of choosing the best turd.

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11.15.2013

Your article raises another issue that transcends the antics of RavenTools. Isn’t it high time for an alternate income-generating model in the blogging world? A reviewer who is – either at the time of the review or thereafter – an affiliate for the product he reviews, creates the perception of conflict of interest, regardless how fair and impartial the review is. {Underline “perception”} To put this into perspective, a doctor is not permitted to receive perks from a drug company, even if he does not prescribe the drugs they produce…because it creates the perception of conflict of interest, period. The alternate model: I’d prefer to pay for a review by a reviewer who does not have an affiliate link. Hey, I do this already, by subscribing to Consumer Reports, LemonAid, etc.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Stan,

Very valid points but just because someone is affiliated with a company doesn’t always present bias.

Eg SEO Spyglass also featured in the backlink checkers post. They had just given me thousands of dollars of prizes for the readers, I’m also their #1 BuzzBundle affiliate. They came last.

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11.16.2013

WAY to GOOOO, Matt! I can’t believe how they treated you even after all of the respectful banter between you and Jeremy that occured well beyond your not-so-stellar review of their backlink checking abilities. It didn’t even “rubbish” their company.. you focused on other backlink checkers much more heavily in that post.

I would be very hesitant/concerned for my own reputation/brand when it comes to exposing such a big player like this. Good move gathering what other industry members think as well.. and thank you for posting this!! :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

No worrys :)

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11.16.2013

I do not have a relationship with Raven, but I have spoke with their managers a few times at conferences and I’ve heard fantastic things about their tools, which makes me so sad to read this post. I’ve been doing affiliate management for a long time and one of the things I’ve learned is that you can almost always take a bad situation and turn it into an extremely positive situation.

Some of the best relationships I have with affiliates started out negative: I had to work that much harder to prove that there was value behind what I was representing.

I have a feeling that this is a terrible case of having the wrong person in the wrong seat at the wrong time. I know your main point throughout this post is not to bash the tools, but to make people aware that the reviews they are reading may be biased because of a negative response by Raven, but I’d bet a few dollars that if that were actually the case this would have come up already.

I appreciate the time you put into your post and Raven definitely deserves a slap on the wrist for the situation they’ve put you and themselves in, but overall I think this was just a bad timing. Them ignoring your email is absolutely ridiculous and that’s a management issue on their end they need to take care of.

Again, nothing again Raven and I wish them the best, but they need to learn from this and make some policy changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Probably wouldn’t hurt to write a follow up to you either :)

BTW, your link is messed up in this paragraph:
“What you read here doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of their tools and I urge you to check out their 30 day free trial and make your own mind up!”

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Wise words Luke :)

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11.16.2013

Seriously interesting read Matthew, having spent time on the Affiliate side of the equation, I can’t understand why they wouldn’t put heavy intrinsic value into their clientele.

Seems like a shoot yourself in the foot move to me.

I think the serious issue that seems to be skirted around is more so the denial of a poor product by Raven Tools, ignoring a fair analysis from a leading industry player just seems idiotic, I would have thought a better way for them to have responded when faced with a scathing report from someone with the clout of Matthew Woodward would be something along the lines of:

“Hi, we saw your fair and thorough report of Raven Tools that was posted on your blog, whilst we have some reservations about some of the testing, we’d love to know how you think we could improve the tool so that we can avoid poor write-ups in the future.”

Not:

“We don’t think you’re right, shut it down or we’ll smear you.”

Haters gonna hate.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi David,

I have worked with a number of products/services to improve their proposition in the past. Why do you think GSA SER has tiered linking support for example ^^

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11.16.2013

Sooo… How’s Jeremy doing these days? Still a roller derby ref?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I have no idea what that means but I hope all is well with him!

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Art Vandelay Reply:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_derby – Probably one of the strangest but most entertaining sports of all time.
His twitter bio in the screenshot you posted says he’s a referee for that sport!

Regardless, he seems like a good guy. I was just wondering if he had any words on why he left Raven Tools that might give you further insight into the tomfoolery going on over there. Could be interesting.

Good post though.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Ahhh I see, me and my British sports knowledge (which isn’t much lol)

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Jeremy Rivera Reply:

Ha! I haven’t had a chance to put on skates since my daughter was born, but as soon as she is old enough we’re headed to the rink to practice together so I can be in good enough shape for that.

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11.16.2013

I REALLY love it when you dish it out like this Matt. Makes for seriously good reading :-)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Cheers Greg – if only you knew what was coming next :P

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11.16.2013

Great write-up, Matthew.

I remember reading your post about backlink checkers and didn’t feel that Raven Tools came off that bad, actually. I know others that have had a good experience and found value, so your article didn’t particularly push me in one direction or another…I just thought it was interesting.

THIS post, however, shows me they seriously don’t have their shit together over there – some serious communication issues.

Bravo to you for not cowering in the corner and laying out this horrible customer service experience here with us. This is a great lesson for all of us that deal with customers regularly.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks Justin – I agree we need bad and good reviews to make a fair judgement!

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11.16.2013

Thank you for your candid insight into this situation.

They got your very-valid questions Matthew; they just couldn’t be bothered to respond to them.

Sadly such experiences are too common. Affiliates are way too often treated like dirt (it’s one of the reasons why the majority of affiliates I’ve come across in my 16 years in affiliate marketing have left the industry) and suffer their frustrations in silence. That’s why it’s laudable that you have aired how you’ve been treated.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yeah we usually get the shitty end of things as affiliates, but affiliates have the power the make or break!

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11.16.2013

I actually talked to Jeremy and he was a pretty nice guy. He did a great job of outreach.

He was the one who encouraged me to check to out Raven Tools. It was ok when I tried it.

It’s too bad that they took a turn for the worst. Also, it’s very surprising how terrible they reacted.

Good on you for telling it like it is Matthew.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Iain,

Be sure to check out the update :)

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Iain Reply:

Just checked it out.

Talk about owning up.

He did a great job at admitting mistakes. I wish more companies were like that.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

They would all make more money fo’ sure!

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Jeremy Rivera Reply:

:D Thanks Iain for the kind words, even when you’ve left a company it’s nice to know you left a positive mark.

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11.16.2013

Taking advantage of the controversy surrounding the banning of your affiliate account to create a lot of ‘buzz’ and consequently lots of traffic for your blog was an excellent execution of a golden opportunity.

Well played sir, well played ;).

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks ^^

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11.16.2013

Whoah man! I was sitting on the edge of the couch! I am so glad that Jon followed up and ate cro…Raven with a personal apology. I do regret I wasn’t able to get your first email but not working there (I work for http://caddisint.com now) meant I didn’t have access to that email. I hope that everyone that saw the post before the response gets a chance to re-read and check out the update.

BTW I think you acted like a sir! I put together my thoughts into a gif laden post (WHo doesn’t like a good GIF?): http://www.jeremyriveraseo.com/2013/11/mea-culpa-raven-tools-pulls-it-out-of.html

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for jumping in and updating Jeremy :)

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Nev
11.16.2013

Excellent response Jon Henshaw @Raventools, now seize the opportunity that lies before you… before its gone!

Hint – who came bottom of the pile in the “Majestic” test and how did they gain an advantage!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I know what I would do, Raven could turn this into a full blown case study from there end. How to dial with bad PR 101 ^^

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11.16.2013

Hi Matt,

Wow you went to town here… you got stamina that I can tell. :)
I just completed my Raven trial … And I am not a happy bunny.
It leaves so much to be desired … I am comparing with the new WebMeUp, MOZ and SEOProfiler – My point #1 I am not there to read manuals… If I have to.. I can watch a video… But page after page… Nope!

Raven lost – Actually MOZ big time! – Then I boight SEOProfiler – That gotta go again… I ended up with SEO PowerSuite (desktop) and WebMeUp …

Thx for your share here… It’s a good read!

Peter

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Peter,

Sounds like you would be in a pretty strong position to write an awesome comparison post ^^

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11.17.2013

Boom – what a post, and what a follow up.

Thing is, the reply to me doesn’t seem genuine – it just sounds like someone scrabbling to put the fire out that they just lit. What can you do in that situation?

Well I’d say not acting like a total tool and mouthing off over email to someone would be the best start, then you’d never had to try and deal with embarrassing situations like this.

/me also secretly notes to never p1ss Matthew off or sell any sub-standard products lol

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Actually coming out and saying it was a Jon thing is a pretty big statement to make.

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11.17.2013

What plugin or tool do you use to make the redirects on your site?
I see all these domain.com/get/link how do I get this as well? Is this a I house plugin or hard coded software?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I’m using http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/get/thirstyaffiliates/ which also auto replaces text with links in the forum and plugs in Google Analytics event tracking!

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King
11.17.2013

Haha, Good to see a non affiliate link to Raven’s site with an anchor text “their free trial” ;)

btw, is that a dofollow link.

nice to see this issue got sorted pretty quick.

Kudos to both Matthew & Raven ;)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yes it’s a dofollow link that they earnt naturally :)

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Lee
11.17.2013

I had an account with them for a while, cancelled it because:

A: There are other tools that do what they do but better.

B: They are expensive

Well done Matt, their customer service is appalling and there is one thing I really hate it is poor customer service

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

What other tools do you recommend based on your experience?

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Lee Reply:

http://www.myseotool.com/ is a much better rank tracker.

Social Sprout does social better

and SEOMoz does analysis better.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

MySEOTools is web/cloud based which means you aren’t in control of your data.

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Alistair
11.17.2013

Matthew

Given that a nice reply doesn’t change anything that happened….

Will you be making use of your reinstated affiliate account and promoting a company that “Must Not Be Trusted”?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well nothing changes the past, but it can change the future!

The account was reactivated so the backlink checkers post still has the links but I won’t be switching these over to affiliate links.

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Alistair Reply:

Why not switch them over? What’s the difference? :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m not all that interested in profiting off the situation

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11.17.2013

Hi, Matthew Woodward!
I am so shocked when reading this article. I do also work on online business but just several months recently with little experience. So, this article is actually useful for me that help me beware of whether I should give it a try or not. Thanks for sharing. Look forwards to reading more useful information from you. Great job!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Cheers Tony!

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11.17.2013

The only reason for the apology is because of how public you made this. Do you think that same would of happened without this post…?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Highly unlikely ^^

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olaf shiel
11.17.2013

I think there are lessons to be learned from both sides here. Matthews review was riddled with flaws. The review was inaccurate in many areas and I can understand many people getting upset with the unfair representation of their products.

1. Two things can be learned. Matthew should do more research before announcing a shallow study as fact.

2. The hurt parties involved could have reacted a bit better.

3. SEO Powersuite correctly pointed out, that all the backlinks involved with “the winner”, consisted of dead and duplicate links, which is not something the SEO powersuite offers in their results. This naturally distorted the accuracy of the results.

4. I’m personally disappointed as a follower of matthew, that he did not learn from his initial mistakes and re-direct the original post to a new one , reflecting all the accurate facts. The original post is still live and nowhere does it say, “Actually, I messed up guys, here are the test results that are more accurate”

5. I’m always interested in posts of this nature but I think it’s only fair to offer third parties a chance to respond to a study of this nature before publishing “facts”, as flawed studies can severely damage a brand even though they might be completely inaccurate. These responses can always be published along with the study, in the name of openess and transparency.

6. I can’t help but feel, Matthew has gone all out to “cash in” on a private email sent between Jon and him, inappropriate and unfortunate as it was. By asking subscribers to his website to artificially “bump up” the post on the inbound website by “liking it”, can only confirm this.

7. It saddens me, that so many people were baying for the blood of a man that did nothing wrong apart from defend the reputation of his business, even if done on the spur of the moment and in a way he regretted and admitted as such.

Alas, this is the internet. and nothing can be taken back once said. At the end of the day, while many of us choose to be anonymous in our online world, it’s important to remember, we are dealing with human beings who are, thankfully not perfect but flawed unlike many of the people who made comments.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Let me answer your points :)

1) The study was based on data – it was followed with a test of 1 million domains, by far the biggest to date by a factor of 10.

2) Usually the case but we are all guilty of that at some point or another!

3) Not sure where you have gotten that from, the sites were never shared with them.

4) Not sure where you are getting that from? 1 test focused on 5 checkers with real data, the follow up focused on the top 2 from that test. Both are linked to each other clearly.

5) I doubt there would have been a response of that nature if it wasn’t published. Sort of a Chicken & Egg situation.

6) This is marketing. I’m a marketer ^^

7) Got to agree some of the comments that came in were overly harsh and not objective.

Wise words sir :)

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Ian
11.17.2013

I’ve read your post and the emails contained within it. I can understand where you are coming from and you sure have poked your foot in the hive.

Raven have unfortunately turned an opportunity into a tsunami. I am sure they have been working to improve their service within the constraints of a business making a profit. They have queered their pitch however by an atrocious lapse of etiquette and plain abuse which will not sit well in the internet space where business practices are a little more anarchic than the bricks and mortar world.

That having been said, I think you have done yourself a slight disservice too despite the exposure gained. I say that because I think your tweet was a little incendiary and maybe jumped the gun a little :-).

People are people and obviously Jon lost the plot somewhere there for a while. He will no doubt see the weakness in his team though by allowing this to get out of control. If he can fix his management and improve then his company will benefit through helping others like us more in the future.

All sustainable business has to be good for both the buyer and seller; both have to feel they have gained for a relationship to continue.

Whilst you seem to have gone rather over the top, kudos for linking out to them and your blog is one of the very very few I spend my time to follow. Keep up the good work!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Ian,

The beauty of being human is we are always learning :)

There is now a huge huge huge PR oppertunity at Raven’s feet that if attacked in the right way could transcend the internet marketing world into the broader business world making it worthy for mainstream press.

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KHer0
11.18.2013

Remind me not to frustrate you :) ..

Shocking Post but I love how you handled the Situation

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Haha ^^

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11.18.2013

As someone who’s been an active affiliate for the better part of a decade this unfortunately happens a lot.

There’s a huge power shift towards merchants, they pay the network & they also pay you. Therefore they feel like they can get away mostly with whatever they want (without consequence).

It’s a big part of the reason I’ve decided to move on from affiliate marketing as a primary source of income, along side being reliant on Google too much ;)

That aside, I absolutely love ahrefs. Would trade it for any other tool.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I’ve worked both sides of the fence so I understand the power & value of affiliates ^^

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11.18.2013

Conclusions:

1. If MW wouldn´t have had the audience he has, RT would have simply kept on ignoring him.
2. Jeremy Rivera is a great affiliate manager. I think he deserves a juicy link: http://www.jeremyriveraseo.com/

;)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

You said it ^^

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11.18.2013

Wow this is really absurd. Not only were you not trashing them but you were still sending them traffic that they had a chance to convert on. It looks like that first affiliate manager was a real smart guy trying to help work towards a better review and use your results to improve things and the co-founder was just being an absolute tard.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

But you can’t argue they handled it well in the end :)

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11.18.2013

Really good read Matt and good to see that Jon stood up and took responsibility for the whole situation in the end, which seemed very unnecessary in the first place. We’re all human and make mistakes and I have certainly had my share of bad days in the past! I know what it’s like to read a not so glowing review of your ‘baby’ and sometimes it’s difficult to put aside your personal/emotional attachment, take a step back and realise that criticism can be constructive.

I think with negative (well, at least not positive…) reviews in general, the best approach is to engage with the reviewer, try and find out why they were not happy and resolve their issues. I’ve seen all sorts of threads/posts about using negative seo against bad reviews on forums etc and they all miss an important point – people who have had a bad experience can actually become your biggest champions if you show that you actually care as a business. The update at the end of the post is a great example of this and I don’t think anyone who reads to the end will go away feeling negatively about Raven Tools.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi David,

Thanks for your insight!

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11.18.2013

Great post, tore me away from work. Good job making lemonade out of this one :) I’ve given Raven Tools a go and was never too impressed..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Haha get back to work :P

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11.18.2013

I have to say that this is likely both the most satisfying and also compelling post of this nature I have had opportunity to enjoy, quite frankly, for some time.
Matt, this is outstanding examples of what and what not to do for love of one’s brand. Furthermore, I would suggest that this be an example or model for any small business when trying to convey to its members the importance of honest business practices as well as turning a potential permanent negative blemish on Brand reputation into a more desirable advantage.
By accepting responsibility, and apologizing publicly. Jon likely opened the doors to many more positive relationships by establishing a persona of being reasonable and professional, contrary to reactive and impulsive(not the first to be guilty of that), thereby creating a positive experience for his brand ultimately.
Great job Matt and keep up the great work.

KC Kohl,
Editor, IMreviewPro.com

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Glad you enjoyed it :)

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11.19.2013

Matthew, how you think the termination of your affiliate account was unjustified is just plain and simple retarded, why even bother signing up to be a ‘partner’ or ‘promoter’ or to put simply an ‘affiliate’ when you know their service wasn’t quite as good as the other 4 or 5 you reviewed, to be totally honest with you, you’re simply a bad review, why should you gain?

I’ve read your entire post and I would have not only banished you from the affiliate programme but also taken legal action and forced you to re-evaluate your findings, this is ofcourse if I personally thought your analysis or findings were thought to be incorrect or the software/service had been improved.

You can not expect to stay on good terms with a company whilst your bad mouthing or providing negative feedback for the said company, that’s just being completely arrogant on your behalf.

When they terminated your account you simply emailed them for a reason but you must have been thick to not realise the reasons behind it… To which you received an abrupt response from a founder of the company, from what I read he was simply frustrated and wanted to defend his service, like any businessmen would.

From what I’ve gathered in this post you’ve used your social presence and followship to grab raven tools by the balls and in return ‘black mailed’ them into providing you with a response when in reality, who gives a shit if a company blows you out… No one.

This post will probably not get published but I can assure you and anyone that reads this, I am in no way affiliated with anyone and this is simply my personal opinion.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

The original test was based on their own database of data, which they index from Majestic every so often. So they don’t actually use Majestics database, its always out of date in comparison.

Forcing me to revaluate a data driven test, wouldn’t change the outcome. Same data input will equal the same data output. When I started the test I didn’t know who would win or lose. This wasn’t negative feedback, this was honest feedback.

I would rather the founders focused on improving the service than defending it.

Your right if I didn’t have the social presence I do I wouldn’t have gotten a response. Thats part of the problem.

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11.19.2013

Matthew,

I like that you called Raven out and pulled no punches but then when Jon stepped up like a man, you also acknowledged that. I don’t think Jon had much other choice at this point than to respond with an apology; however, he did and he took ownership of his stupidity and I respect that. And heck, we’ve all had days that bad. :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Gotta take the rough with the smooth!

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11.19.2013

That’s a Perfect Write up after Seo link monster, You Rock Mat and God Bless. B’Rave you

First page result for you for both the above tools.

Ref: http://imgur.com/gM1MYHF

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well you can’t have the first page full of positive reviews ^^

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Malphas
11.19.2013

“One of the motivating factors for starting this blog was because I was sick and tired of seeing the reputation of the internet marketing/SEO industry getting trashed.”

..Aren’t you an advocate of large scale link spam? :)

Adam

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m an advocate of scale and efficiency. I’m not going to pay a human to do the work of a script!

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Malphas Reply:

Oh I completely agree. I’m far from a white hat and don’t get me wrong. if a FORM is allows HTML/JS/XSS and I can automate it then it’s fair game in my opinion.

..But one of the major reasons SEO gets a bad rap is due to the huge increase of automated posts/comments created by GSA/XRumer.

It just seemed like an interesting statement to make when your blog was contributing factor to the mainstream acceptance of link spam!

Adam

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well thats a seperate issue, theres a difference between automating and spamming! If your creative and don’t cut corners automated comments/posts look and read just as well as non-automated!

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Malphas Reply:

Sure, there’s a difference, but what you are promoting is still spam. it doesn’t matter how well it reads if it’s still do en mass for the sole purpose of getting a links.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or right. I’ve blasted more than my fair share of links! But I’m under no illusions that what I’m doing is contributing to the downfall of these platforms.

Whilst I’ve got your attention actually, are you planning on releasing income reports on stuff outside your blog? I’d love to see that. Especially with the current state of SEO!

Adam

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I do partially agree with what your saying! In a sense I suppose its a byproduct of Google’s success the past decade =\

I have considered releasing income reports outside the site but it carries great risk for me. Search is always a small part of a broader marketing campaign which when executed right, allows you to forget about search.

I will however be building a business over my shoulder step by step, posting weekly updates showing exactly what I’m doing along with the live site so people can follow along with a $100 budget! I’ll explore some of the wider marketing techniques that can be used in that along with SEO.

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Malphas Reply:

Then don’t post the URLs :) It’s all well and good people seeing how well you’re doing off this blog. But no one knows if you can actually rank a website with all the tools you are promoting so heavily.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

But that doesnt really prove anything.

I am going to do public over my shoulder case studies where you can see everything though

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11.20.2013

Wow, thanks for pulling this together. In today’s age of transparency and social media, a company like Raven should realize that these types of behaviors and responses directly contradict the notions of inbound marketing. Maybe they should use your criticisms as a way to build a better brand, but instead it seems they took the opposite approach.

Raven leads the charge as the new “thought police” for online affiliate marketing.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I think they have learnt :)

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Tai
12.1.2013

I find it hard to believe that after all this time and all those referrals, you haven’t made a sale yet? Doesn’t sound right to me.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well it makes sense people dont continue the trial based on the context of the article

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12.2.2013

To be honest, it wouldn’t make much sense to use their backlink tool, since it’s running it through MajesticSEO. They aren’t like Moz that has their own index.

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Charles Reply:

I might be wrong, but I’ve only looked at their site for a total of like 5mins

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No you are right, and its not a live snapshot of the majestic index either

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12.15.2013

Hi Matthew Woodward, I really love this post. Love the way you write your posts. The information in this article is really unique and useful for me. After reading this article, I think I have some ideas for myself. I do follow your articles recently. Thanks for sharing this post. Hope to read more interesting information from you. Have a nice day.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks :)

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12.18.2013

I’d still be hard pressed to even want to be affiliated with such an ass… even after the apology.

Thanks for staying true to yourself and readers by not deleting this post and previous. There’s very few… and I mean VERY FEW affiliates who stand up for what they have written.

Most would simply delete any inflammatory writing, give a shining review plastered with affiliate links.

Unfortunately for your wallet I won’t be clicking on any Raven Tool links anytime soon. However it will just make me more likely to click a Raven Tool competitor when it comes time to setting up some suites.

Which will be soon…. 2 clients down for me($1250 per month) 3 more to go before I can afford subscriptions to these things… not long now buddy :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks Garratt!

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Jon
1.3.2014

Wow, this is one badass display. Expose, expose, expose :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

It all ended well!

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1.13.2014

Some not so unbiased looking reviews I found when trying to find real feedback. Not sure how Quora works, but I have come threads like this in searches a few times and they mostly seem very screwed towards positive mentions of products. http://www.quora.com/Reviews-of-Raven-Tools

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Its important to note this post was not a test of the tools that raven provides.

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1.16.2014

I was looking for reviews on Raven Tools and stumbled upon your blog. Thumbs up for you delivering us such an detailed description of the events that took place.

I agree that affiliate partners are in a tough spot here, and I have also experienced the same thing first hand.

Not in that degree, but certainly close to get me upset.

In regards to how Raven handled the situtation afterwards, is a perfect example of the modern way of dealing with customers.

Due to the fact that communication methods and activity has changed tremendiously in the last decade, customers have a lot more say than they did in the past.

Handling your business community and relationships are key to be successful.

Btw., I have looked around for several marketing tools, and Raven is probably going to be my choice. If a company can state such things and do a 180 degree turn, accepting that they made a huge mistake is gold for me.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Thanks for your kind words :)

You have to give it to Raven they dealt with it in a great way, unlike one of their link checking competitors :P

I’m yet to try out their full suite myself!

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