Updating your SEM toolbox with new, shiny tools –- SMX East 2016

Posted by

webmaster-tools-development-ss-1920Ask any PPC manager how they do their job well, and, aside from their skill set, they’ll name the tools that give them the data they need and the time in their day to drive strategy.

In this session from SMX East 2016: “Updating Your SEM Toolbox with New, Shiny Tools,” Moderator Matt Van Wagner of Find Me Faster was joined by speakers Brad Geddes (@bgTheory) of AdAlysis, Daniel Gilbert (@dangilbertppc) of Brainlabs and Sahil Jain (@sahilio) of AdStage to share what SEM tools they rely on, and what shiny new tools they are most excited about.

Secrets of PPC productivity

First up was Brad Geddes with the secrets of PPC productivity, and he contends that time management is the key to good PPC management. There are so many tools out there, he says, and success is often determined not by what you use but when you use them.

Geddes believes that collaboration tools should be considered PPC tools — this includes things like Basecamp, Google Docs and more, because PPC managers have difficulty finding the time to fully give their attention to doing the important work of building campaigns.

Productivity is a challenge because we get interrupted often. He shares a post from Trello on finding productive hours in the day. PPC professionals have to be both managers and makers. So it’s important to find a schedule that works to your advantage.

Here’s a sample below from Trello’s blog post:


Some tips from Brad that work for him include:

  • Keep a clean office.
  • One monitor is better than two.
  • Keep your computer desktop clean.
  • Subscribe to SearchCap to stay on top of search news.
  • One-fifth of his email replies are machine-written — things like “done,” “I will take care of it” and “What do you think?”
  • Make meeting rules, and remember: Attending a meeting should not be viewed as an obstacle to be overcome; attending a meeting should be a privilege because you’re helping shape the direction of a company or its products and services
  • Use a project management tool — there isn’t a right one or wrong one, but there should be one that helps your team be more productiveproject-management-tools
  • Track time to find inefficiencies: Why does someone take double the time to do the same task compared to someone else?
  • Optimize customer support and client calls, and consider making a video to include in your FAQs if your clients ask the same questions over and over.


Finally, when determining what tools you need:

  1. Determine your process first.
  2. Ask yourself what you need to do.
  3. Figure out how often you need to do it.
  4. Look at how long it takes.
  5. Then, decide what tools fit each task


The full slide deck from Brad’s presentation can be found here.

Free SEM tools

Up next, Sahil Jain talked about the free SEM tools you should be using.

Keyword research

  • Ubersuggest: Enter root keywords and get all variations, as well as ad group themes.
  • Soovle: Gives you an idea of what certain keyword searches look like across various sites like Google, Amazon, YouTube and others.
  • WordStream Keyword Niche Finder: This tool breaks down keywords into possible niches to give you ideas that are more specific.
  • Google Trends: Uncover popular searches, as well as seasonal searche.s
  • Answer the Public: Based on Google autosuggest data, search queries populate popular searches in the form of questions.
  • Search Cloudlet: This is a Firefox add-on that inserts smart tag clouds into the Google/Yahoo/Twitter interface to help you search faster — and the tag clouds reveal better search terms.
  • 5minutesite.com’s local keywords list: Great for local businesses or small businesses. Enter root keywords plus ZIP code and radius to get a list of keywords plus names of surrounding locations.

Keyword wrapping

Ad copy tools

  • Google AdWords preview tool to review competitor ads.
  • Quick character counters like Word Counter or Google Sheets using the equation: =len(cell #) to count character length.
  • CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and grader.


The full slide deck from Sahil’s presentation can be found here.

Maximizing activity with your PPC toolset

Last but not least was Daniel Gilbert, who talked about maximizing your effectiveness through the PPC tool set. He starts by saying that automation is not optional, it’s a must. One small account can have 10,000 keywords and a trillion data points.

There are many tools out there:


But in this interactive session, Daniel wants to poll the audience to see what their favorite tools are in multiple categories, then he’ll reveal his. And he said if his choices don’t match the audience, he’ll remove his clothes (update: he only removed his sweatshirt).

Call tracking

Audience picks: DialogTech, Marchex, CallRail

Daniel’s choice: CallTrackingMetrics, CallRail, ResponseTap


Feed management

Audience picks: Whoop! App, Channel Intelligence

Daniel’s choice: GoDataFeed, FeedSpark, Productsup


Competitor insights

Audience picks: SpyFu, SEMrush, Adgooroo

Daniel’s choice: Adgooroo, Adthena, SEMrush


Important: There isn’t any tool out there that will estimate your competitor ad spend!

Account management

Audience picks: WordStream, AdAlysis, Brainlabs

Daniel’s choice: WordStream, Optymzr



Audience picks: Supermetrics, Raven

Daniel’s choice: Swydo, Supermetrics, Periscope Data



Audience picks: Google Analytics, Visual IQ, Adometry (now Google Attribution 360)

Daniel’s choice: Google Analytics, Abakus, CUBED Attribution


The full slide deck from Daniel’s presentation can be found here.

This info-packed session gave us all some more ideas on how to use tools to help us be more productive and successful in our paid search. I hope you get as much out of the recap as we all did in the session here at SMX East 2016.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Pauline Jakober is CEO of Group Twenty Seven, a boutique online advertising agency specializing in the Google AdWords and Bing Ads networks. As a Google AdWords Certified Partner, Jakober and her team practice cutting edge paid search strategy and management for clients across many industries.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *