February 15, 2018 | Sarah Danks
9 Tools of the Trade
In my line of work — PS: that’s search marketing — we can pretty much do anything required in our job description as long as we have access to a computing device and Internet access. Read: we can work from home. (Which is awesome and I totally recommend, by the way.)
While everything we do is “online,” and a lot of online tools we use are free, we search marketers do rely on any number of paid tools to help us do our jobs well. On any given day we might need to run analytics reports, mine keyword data, research a new client’s domain, troubleshoot crawl errors, manage sitelinks, create a PPC account…
…the list goes on and on.
Not that we’re in the habit of giving away all the tricks of the trade, but we have to give a nod to a few of the search marketing tools that help us be the best we can be.
Google’s Keyword Planner
Because at the root of just about everything we do, there are the keywords. Lots and lots of keywords. We use this handy tool — okay, so maybe we’re not as in love with it as the old Keyword Tool, but still — any time we need to research keywords for website optimization and pay-per-click accounts.
It’s built right within AdWords so once you find all the keywords you need, you can just import right into the account you want.
In addition to the aforementioned we use other methods of keyword research, too. That’s the beauty of researching keywords — there’s no right, wrong or weird way to do it (as long as you’re finding what you need to convert your web visitors)!
Google Search Console (Previously Webmaster Tools)
It’s also a good tool for monitoring page positions, submitting XML sitemaps, and assessing crawl data.
We use GSC a lot — we’re not in there as often as we’re in Google Analytics, but this is a very handy tool all marketers need to be using.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a really underrated SEO tool (in this marketer’s humble opinion). Want to know what’s going on for every single URL of a website? Try this on for size:
- canonical data,
- all “metadata” information (including <h> tags, meta descriptions, <title> tags, and even meta keywords — yes, some people still use this outdated tag on their websites),
- size of page,
- status codes,
- number of backlinks/internal links per URL,
- …and lots more.
And it’s all packaged in an easy-to-download, free program (they also have a paid version that allows larger sites to be analyzed). If you’re not using this SEO tool, you need to start. Immediately.
If not sooner.
This magical SEO tool pulls from both MajesticSEO and Moz. We use it mostly as an audit tool to assess where the greatest optimization needs are. It gives great insights into many aspects of a website:
- backlink metrics,
- domain authority,
- keyword strength,
- design analysis,
- overall quality score
- and so much more.
If you ever get new clients with existing websites that need work, you need to be using Raven Tools first and foremost.
Plus, we use it on an ongoing basis to measure Domain/Page Authority — among other things.
We believe every PPC marketer should use AdWords Editor. There are lots of reasons why we love it, but our favorite is the ease of exporting the entire account for a client’s approval/viewing — BEFORE the campaign goes live.
No worrying about having to create an entire campaign, pause it and hope someone on the team accidentally pushes it live before the client’s reviewed it.
Also, the absolute joy of being able to add thousands of broad match modified keywords at the speed of light? Priceless.
Even with the advent of new tools within the Google AdWords interface, we’ll continue to use Editor because it’s just so convenient.
Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress
Technically this isn’t a stand-alone tool but since we build all our websites in WordPress this handy SEO plugin is a must for us. There’s no question where the “metadata” goes for each page/post of a WordPress site with this great little plugin.
Plus, the easier we can make our CMS for client updates, the better. (Doesn’t get much simpler than “green light, GO!”)
Bing Ads Editor
Similar to Google’s AdWords Editor, Bing’s platform allows a search marketer to manage a PPC account and make edits offline before publishing in the UI. While Bing’s tool is a lot clunkier than the ever-so-slick AdWords Editor, it’s still much, much easier to make bulk edits here than to use Bing’s interface.
In fact, the Bing Editor has a handy “import from Google” option. So, even though Bing Ads Editor loads quite slowly and has a myriad of constant updates (which means closing the application, waiting for the new update to load, re-opening, etc.) it’s still a useful offline management tool.
Last, but certainly not least, is our analytics platform. It’s free, it’s robust, it’ll tell you everything you need to know (unless you’re a huge conglomerate with millions of web pages and complex sales cycles or something weird).
Of course, the keyword data has basically been ripped away from us (but no worries, Google Search Console can help with that), and we have to closely analyze data that differs between HTTP and HTTPS traffic, but The Google has also made some nifty improvements to the UI that allow us to break down even farther into types of traffic, device, etc.
Any marketer worth his/her salt knows that you can make any marketing decision you want…
…but if you can’t track it, you’re flying blind.
Is it really a “tool,” per se? Yes, it is! We exclusively use Dropbox to store all of our website files — all client sites plus our own — and it has been an essential part of our business.
For those of you not familiar with this service, they offer “cloud” based file hosting, and automatic file synchronization.
In the Business options, they have Standard and Advanced plans; because of the amount of services offered we still only use the Standard plan, which gives us plenty of storage, options for file recovery, encryption, API access, live chat support, and more.
As an online marketing company offering custom website and landing page design, having a secure, safe place to store all our files gives us — and our clients — peace of mind.
Are There More? You Bet.
So there you have it!
Of course, this is by no means an extensive list of all the online marketing tools we use; these are just some of our top performers for SEM. You know, the ones we like to write home about (not that Mom understands much of what we say).
Are there other tools out there?
Of course. Many of them are geared towards specific aspects of marketing, such as content marketing tools to help bloggers and webmasters alike.
All the tools we use are different enough and provide separate enough data that we use all of them in concert with each other in order to gain the entire story of any search marketing campaign.
Which SEM tools do you use that you can’t live without?