My 5 Favorite SEM Tools

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Frank Watson at Search Engine Watch has a great post called SEM Tools of the Experts. He asked several SEM rockstars what five tools they can’t live without. Answers run the gamut, from an A/B testing tool, to web analytics, to keywords tools, and Excel, all of which are great tools.

Here are my top 5, as posted in the SEW Forum thread.

Excel: While somewhat old-school, it performs so many tasks with ease that it’s still irreplaceable. I can create and upload new campaigns in minutes using Excel.

Google’s keyword tool: KW Discovery, WordTracker, and others are good too, but I can get almost everything I need from Google’s tool.

A good analytics program: I’ve used several (NetTracker, WebTrends, ClickTracks, Atlas, Google Analytics, proprietary stuff) and they all have pros and cons, but if you set any one of them up properly, the data you get is invaluable.

The search engines themselves: The best research tool for what’s actually going on, and to see what the engines are testing. I love what Google’s doing with Local results right now, and you can’t get a feel for that without going to Google and looking for yourself.

My own brain: There’s no substitute for experience and gut feel. Tools can only do so much, and then a human has to interpret all that data and make decisions based on it.

Oh, and a sixth one: The great SEM community at SEW and elsewhere on the web, as well as at conferences. It feels like we have a lot of super-smart experts all working toward the same goal.

What are your top five? Post at SEW, or comment here.

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