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Top 6 Must-Have Tools for SEM Marketers

May 15, 2017
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In today’s digital marketing ecosystem, search engine marketing (SEM) managers have access to more and more data each day. This data can be utilized to effectively meet and exceed client goals, complete a competitive analysis, and interpret the results of a marketing campaign, but the vast amounts of information available to us today can get very overwhelming. It seems there are hundreds if not thousands of platforms, marketing SEM tools, and marketing services available to markers these days.

With such a huge selection out there, how do you know which of these to choose from? This quick guide gives you a breakdown of the best SEM tools we use at Power Digital, a top digital marketing agency, to stay ahead of the game and deliver the best results.

Here are some of our team’s favorite paid search services that help us in our daily work:


Keywordtool io is one of the handiest keyword research tools and is a great counterpart to Google’s Keyword Planner. The benefits here are that the tool takes your base keyword and appends several variations of words and keyword phrases thus providing you with more possible, relevant keywords to target. Additionally, it taps into SEM platforms like Google and Bing, along with YouTube, Amazon, and App Store, so you can segment your research through multiple channels/platforms and not just Google’s search network.

The free version of this keyword research tool allows you to generate up to 750 long-tail keywords and keyword suggestions for every search term. While this free version is extremely helpful, they also offer API access which allows you to generate thousands of keyword variations using simple scripts, Google Spreadsheets, or Excel.

Google Data Studio

Google’s Data Studio is a free data visualization tool that allows you to easily create multiple dashboards and reports. It allows you to connect to multiple Google sources (like Google Analytics, Google Sheets, AdWords, YouTube). You can share these reports with others who can either view or edit them depending on how you configure them, just like how you’d do it with Google Docs.

Related: The Ultimate AdWords Account Settings Activation List

Data Studio’s customization is what I like the most; you can easily import data and filter for several different metrics. This is extremely helpful for account managers who report on multiple data points. While there are other more robust tools out there for data visualization, Data Studio is an easy to use alternative for reporting.

paid media services


This platform is your all-in-one online competitive research tool. Keyword research, competitive analysis through backlink audits, keyword rank tracking, site audits, traffic analysis, and page metrics are just a few of the things you can do with SEMRush. It allows you to find all of the long-tail keywords for which any existing website on the internet is ranking. This can be extremely impactful for those who understand the importance of SEO, especially managers and bloggers, as it shows you the keyword list your competitors are ranking for and potential organic traffic you could gain by writing content on that particular keyword or on certain relevant keywords.

You can also find more statistical details regarding specific keywords and related keywords which you can rank for. One thing this competitive keyword research tool lacks however, is integration with Google Analytics and Google AdWords so you won’t be able to view real keyword data from your own accounts. As a digital marketer, SEMRush has allowed me to stay on top of my client’s rankings, opportunities and what their competition is up to.

Google Trends 

Google Trends has been around since 2008 back when it was known as Insights for Search but really started to gain popularity in 2015 when it was redesigned. It allows users to track the search volume for a particular term across a geographical region, language, or time frame.

Related: How to Properly QA Remarketing Audiences in Google AdWords

This allows a business to identify what types of searches are trending and which ones are becoming less popular. For lead gen and ecommerce brands this can be extremely powerful, as you can gauge interest geographically for your particular product/service by looking at each trending search and search result.

For example, if you are a local bar or restaurant then you might want to know what are the most popular searches for food and drink in your area to help provide you with ideas for new products, services, web content, or a marketing campaign. Companies of all types and sizes are leveraging this data to help them make actionable business decisions.


SimilarWeb is a digital marketing intelligence platform that provides data analytics on desktop websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps. The preview tool provides users with a quick overview of a site’s reach, ranking, and user engagement. You can also search for data by entering a specific website URL or by running a category search by industry or country, where the top 50 websites are displayed.

While it shares several features with SEMRush and other SEM platforms, there are a few key features which can be extremely useful to digital marketers. It allows you to look at the search engine traffic, referrals, and outgoing traffic for competitors, giving you the insight into other potential outlets for your business.

Related: How to Outsmart Your Competition in AdWords

The Audience Interests section of the platform gives you a breakdown of interest audiences for any given site as well. It also serves as a prospecting tool for sales teams as they can easily get an overview of a brand’s online presence and target audience with little to no training.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free system that allows you to keep an eye on trends, information and mentions of a particular keyword. You can set Google Alerts to monitor news, blogs, video, discussions and books. You can also filter down to a specific geographic region as well as setting the frequency a given alert.

In today’s ever changing business landscape it’s key to have a good pulse of your brand, products, services, and business type. A PPC agency should always be monitoring certain things, like the competitive landscape and client’s channel performance. I typically like to set up alerts for all my clients’ brand names and their top products. The main takeaway here is brand management, and you can use this data in your marketing strategy and outreach. Campaign management is also imperative to ensure that you are effectively reaching your target audience.

We hope these search marketing tools will allow you to save time, improve results and make your day more efficient!

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