The 10 Best SEM Tools You Need to Save Time & Money

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Quinn Dolan
March 25, 2019

Updated January 2022

Every year in the digital marketing world, advertisers are provided with more and more data to help them reach goals for clients. While this data is great, it can also get overwhelming. Never fear! I’m here for you.

Along with more data to play with, there is also a multitude of SEM tools that can help advertisers optimize their job performance while becoming more efficient. (See what I did there? Classic PPC joke. Hope it converted well.)

Here are some of our team’s favorite paid search tools and SEM platforms that can help any digital marketing analyst get ahead of the data analysis game for their clients.

  1. Optmyzr
  2. SEMrush 
  3. Google Data Studio
  4. Microsoft Clarity
  5. SpyFu
  6. Google Keyword Planner 
  7. Supermetrics
  8. HubSpot Ads
  9. Optimizely
  10. Answer the Public

 

1) Optmyzr

Despite its lack of vowels, Optmyzr leaves no stone unturned. It’s an awesome SEM optimization tool that helps you grab low-hanging fruit within any Adwords account. This tool is all about saving time on tedious and complex reports and allowing easy functionality to use that saved time to make optimizations.

In the “Data Insights” section, quick visuals of performance segments can be made actionable quickly. In addition, the quality score tracker, hour of the week analysis, and geo heat-map are all important reports for any account that can be made in a snap, saving analysts lots of precious time.

There is also a section for optimizations that can be made with one click, allowing analysts to make keyword and bid adjustments, A/B ad tests, and budget changes quickly. This section is based off extremely helpful reports made for you in the interface. Lastly, Optmyzr also has custom reporting options and templates, as well as enhanced scripts that can be run from the tool.

2) SEMrush

SEMrush provides valuable insights that allow advertisers to create a strong base for their SEM account. The keyword analytics tool is the platform’s highlight. It provides keyword volume, CPC, and competition data for any keyword via a phrase match report and related keywords report, ensuring advertisers don’t miss out on a keyword. 

Competitive research is also easily conducted via the domain analytics tool, which produces traffic numbers, keyword targets, and current ads for any domain. Additionally, SEMrush tracks keyword rankings and scheduled reports for domains or keywords helping advertisers to be proactive with their accounts.

3) Google Data Studio

Digital marketing involves a lot of data. That data can become jumbled and confusing if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking at. Enter, Google Data Studio.

Google Data Studio is a free data visualization tool that combines data from multiple sources to create detailed reports with widgets, graphs, charts, and more that are easy to share, read, and modify. Google Data Studio is so beloved by digital marketers because it makes reporting updates almost effortless.

Perhaps the most useful feature of Google Data Studio is its ability to pull data from over 800 data sets, making this a one-stop-shop for all of your marketing report’s needs.

4) Microsoft Clarity

If you want to see how visitors interact with your website, look no further than Microsoft Clarity. Clarity is a free tool provided by Microsoft that captures how people actually use your site using heatmaps, session recordings, and an insights dashboard that monitors all the data.

In addition to being one of the more user-friendly tools on this list, Microsoft Clarity is helpful for reviewing exactly how visitors perform once on your site. Heatmaps visualize each click and scroll a user makes and session recordings allow you to actually watch a user’s actions in near real-time. This information is invaluable for developers to improve their websites based on user feedback.

5) SpyFu

SpyFu, a keyword ranking and competitive analysis software, is a useful tool that uses more than 13 years of Google data to help businesses discover new keywords for their paid and organic search campaigns.

SpyFu lacks some functions that other tools on this list boast, but we find it particularly useful for competitive analysis. The Top Ad Competitors report shows websites with the most paid search terms related to your website, while the Shared Paid Keywords report displays a Venn diagram that shows where you and a competitor overlap in terms of keywords. This diagram is particularly useful for identifying valuable keywords your competition is bidding on but you are not.

6) Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner helps you research keywords for your Google Ads Search campaigns. Backed by Google’s vast data network, the Keyword Planner can be used to discover new keywords related to your business, see monthly search estimates, and organize keywords into different categories related to your brand.

We like using the Keyword Planner for our paid search efforts because it provides estimated costs of the keywords you want to target, a vitally important aspect of any paid campaign, as well as allows you to easily create new campaigns based on the keyword research you just performed.

You’ll need a Google Ads account to access the Keyword Planner, but you probably already have one if you’re working with paid search. If not, go sign up today! 

7) Supermetrics

Our team is currently hooked on Supermetrics. This tool for SEM makes it easy to update client-facing reports quickly, so you can spend more time analyzing data, developing insights, and executing a killer paid search strategy.

With Supermetrics, you can get a high-level pulse on a client’s performance across all channels, like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Bing, and Reddit. With just a click of a button, you can check out spend, ROAS, conversions, and more across every channel a client is advertising on. This is a great time-saver since you don’t have to download metrics from numerous channels. Instead, all data gets populated in one report.

8) HubSpot Ads 

You might know HubSpot from their plethora of useful blog posts, but have you heard of HubSpot ads? This tool is great for helping your customers move through their buying journey. 

HubSpot decided to build an ads tool into its core marketing tools. If you’re a HubSpot user, you can use the Ads functionality to target and serve the right ad content to the right audience. It syncs with the HubSpot CRM, so you can pull data and emails and target them easily. 

Plus, since it’s an extension of the rest of HubSpot’s tools, it’s easy to manage ads while you’re managing other aspects of your marketing campaigns. 

9) Optimizely

Optimizely is any conversion rate optimization junkie’s best friend. This is a fantastic A/B testing tool that does its best to cut out the development work of creating a test.

By placing the Optimizely code across the website, A/B tests can be launched from the platform itself. There’s no need for any development work prior to making a permanent change. Any goal or page event can be tracked and the tool displays performance changes (and winners!) in a clear and user-friendly interface.

This tool helps make you quick CRO gains while allowing even the most HTML-challenged people launch the on-page test they’ve been anxiously waiting for.

10) Answer the Public

Answer the Public is an easy-to-use keyword research tool that can assist in your paid search, SEO, and content strategies. This tool allows users to analyze keywords to see what questions people are asking across Google.

For example, searching for the phrase ‘coffee’ generates a satisfying diagram with the top Google searches related to coffee such as ‘where to buy coffee beans’ or ‘what are the best coffee grinders’. This gives you insight into what users are searching and how you can cater your PPC strategy to these common questions and bid on more relevant keywords.

A limited number of searches are free per day but Answer the Public also offers premium packages with additional features. 

From one analyst to another, trust me—you need to try incorporating these SEM tools into your search engine marketing workflow. You’ll save time, make your paid search campaigns more efficient, and get more done for your clients. It’s a win all-around. 


 

If you’re looking for a team of experts to help you take your company’s digital presence and SEM efforts to the next level, contact us! We love to help.

Need some help with your Amazon advertising? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at our guide for tips, tricks, & insights!



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Quinn Dolan
Director of Search & Social Advertising

Quinn, a Notre Dame alum, hails from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (A.K.A. BROconomowoc, A.K.A. The Real OC). Though he’s not afraid to admit that he wants to swim in a pool of spaghetti noodles, his guilty pleasures are shower beers and The Bachelor.

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