Timothy Nobles is the Director of SEO for BancVue Interactive (formerly FIRST ROI), based in Austin, Texas. Timothy used Raven Internet Marketing Tools since its inception at two different companies with reseller models that focused primarily on local search. Both companies operated under fast-paced, high-stress environments, and we were curious about what has made Raven a good solution for Timothy for all these years.
Nate Griffin, senior web analyst for Raven Tools, interviewed Timothy recently:
Do you prefer SEO Ninja, or SEO Guru?
I will come up to Nashville and punch you for that.
So, tell our readers exactly what BancVue Interactive does.
We’re a company that focuses on providing websites and online solutions for the community financial industry. We also have two national brands, CheckingFinder.com and Kasasa.com, which are designed to help consumers easily connect with high-value accounts in their local area.
Why not go after any of the megabanks?
Our immediate peer group expects a certain level of service when we go online, and the megabanks had the budgets to develop websites that offer cutting-edge tools. A smaller financial institution doesn’t have that multi-million dollar software development budget. That’s where BVI has the opportunity to help provide them with and help manage an extraordinary web presence that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.
What are your primary goals with search marketing for community financial institutions?
Aside from straight-up SERP dominance [laughter], it really is to fight for the underdog. With organic optimization, if you do it right, you can produce very sustainable and profitable results for each individual institution.
With paid search, we use that to be an extension of their on-the-ground marketing. Even though post-Caffeine crawls have accelerated greatly, organic is still not fast enough for a community financial institution’s one or two-week promotional flight. We tend to let paid search be oriented around their traditional advertising and marketing.
From a technical standpoint as well as our overall search strategy, we are trying to leverage the value of that local relevancy.
How many clients or community financial institutions do you work with now?
Several hundred and growing.
You are a current and happy Raven client.
I’ve had a love affair with Raven since the beginning.
With so many clients and two national brands, how are you able to integrate Raven Tools into all of your needs?
The piece that we leverage the heaviest is the API and with that the SERP Tracker. Not specifically for the stick count to say [to the client], “Oh, wow! Look, you’re number one for all these things.” It has more to do with if we’re actually targeting the right things [and] are they producing value. The ability to make that SERP data portable and overlay it with other information that gives us additional context and meaning. It helps us manage where we need to place our efforts to target the optimal high-value set of terms for visibility. The Google Analytics integration piece in general is really cool with the SERPs, because you can overlay that information and help answer that business question easier.
The Competitor Manager is super-critical, especially in the local level. It’s obvious if you’re a gigantic brand . . . but when you’re at the neighborhood level, you’ve got local brands, national brands and super-regional brands to contend with. The diversity of competition gets really broad really fast. They’re all executing different types of strategies that we need to be ahead of the curve, responsive to, or at least aware of, and it helps us save a tremendous amount of time being able to use that component of Raven versus how many tabs can I get into a spreadsheet.
We love it on the pre-sale side of things, too. You never want to walk into a sales opportunity unprepared. And any time you’re talking about websites as well as services like search marketing, it’s critical to know what the current state is and what is the current state of the competitive field.
All the tools like the Design Analyzer and the Quality Analyzer . . . have extraordinary value. You don’t have to get lost in the weeds; you know that 100% is the ideal number and if you’re not there you have room for improvement.
Keyword research, the aggregation of the SEMRush data and the AdWords data, and the ability to port those over to the SERP Tracker with the click of a button, is pretty sweet.
Another thing we use in Raven is the Report Wizard. We’ll use that to create internal reports and look at things to chop them up and beat up our own ideas to make sure they’re sound.
Are there some of your websites that get more attention than others?
We try to evenly apply it to everyone, though it’s not a one-size-fits-all type solution.
Because it’s not cookie-cutter, Raven becomes super powerful for us, and we can make those changes institution by institution effortless. There are a fair number of simple, repetitive tasks that go into the setup and maintenance of a profile. With the API providing that two-way, input/output of data, it allowed us to develop some tools that help make some of those simple and common tasks very fast and very efficient. There are a few tasks that when doing them by hand might take three or four hours and we’ve gotten it down to a series of minutes now.
How are you using Raven to benchmark performance?
When you’re talking about enterprise data management, historical SERP data is so valuable. Most platforms have got it isolated and keep it agnostic from your business data. Obviously you’ve done all your keyword research, and said “these are the value terms that we want to have visibility.” So, subsequently how long did it take — days, weeks, months — to get in the SERP mix that you wanted? Was it short lived? Did you sustain it? Are your linking structures working?
With Search Visibility, we actually have that data published and on demand for the clients. We always bias against the go-live date. We know we’re good, but we don’t need spend time verbally justifying that. We let the results speak for themselves — putting them against the benchmark and saying, “Before you started with us here’s where you were, and since you have started with us look at what we have done” and then being able to tie that visibility into new opportunity.
You mentioned CheckingFinder and Kasasa as two national brands. Does your approach using Raven change for those sites?
A lot of the same principles apply, but we really try to leverage features via Social Mention, and try to keep a finger on that pulse. Obviously the SERPs are important. On Checking Finder, with the Raven Analytics, we plugged that in and tried to leverage the data from that a little better.
How would you characterize your overall experience with Raven Tools?
On a scale to 5, I give it 11 [laughter].
I can’t really disclose how many bits and pieces we have plugged into Raven, but the number is just stupid. It’s just huge quantities. The guys at Raven are constantly bringing new things to the table, and what has us the most impressed is that they will actually stop and listen. Jon Henshaw and Taylor Pratt have been phenomenal when we’ve reached out them to talk about a challenge or an idea or something that would make life a whole lot easier for us if they would just add two lines of code. We haven’t been told yes every time, but we aren’t told no either.
Our hope is that anyone that we do business with is more of a partner not a vendor, and Raven is one of those companies that we count as a partner. It’s nice to know that as we grow, we don’t have to worry about the problem of “open up your wallet, and we’ll fix it for you.” There’s nothing like being penalized for growth.
The great pleasure of Raven is that I don’t ever think about it. It just moves with us.
As a power-user, do you think there are specific tips or tricks that are underused?
The categorization of your monitored keywords via the tags. I don’t see it being done that much, but it’s one that I get the most personal value out of — being able to categorize what keywords belong to, associating the tags with objectives, and analyzing the tags to see if you’re meeting those objectives.