Essential Paid Search Tools from Excel to Automation

Essential Paid Search Tools from Excel to Automation

18th October 2011

A4U London 2011 kicked off with a session on paid search tools from both a client side and an agency point of view. The speakers were:

Sam Fenton-Elstone – iCrossing UK

Andy Milhalop –

Johnathan Dunkley – MinuteSteak

Moderated by Jon Myers – Yahoo

Sam Fenton- Elstone

From an agency perspective, Sam advised on using automated tools to get the very best value from the campaign budget. A good tool can provide invaluable data and bring it to you in an easily understood format such as:

Product Feeds – ads can be very easily built around information provided by a sites product feed (price, item description etc)  therefore needing very little input by the campaign manager

Competition – good tools can scrape the Google SERPs and return essential data on your competitors which can in turn feed into your campaign.

Great Paid Search Tools for Agencies


Paid for on a keyword level (so can prove expensive if you have many hundreds or thousands of keywords to manage)

Has international capabilities

Strong organic and paid reporting suite

Need to upload all of your keywords (not just the ones that convert the best) otherwise the data can end up skewed.

Adthena £200 p.c.m

Paid for on a Domain level so no restrictions of keywords

Database provides historic reporting

Can be linked to Adwords and so calibrate your results to those of your competition

SEMRush – approx $70 p.c.m

One of the cheaper tools and tends to focus on Google US

Data is only updated monthly

Good for keyword research

Sam confirmed that Excel is still an excellent choice of free tool for the PPC campaign manager and particularly recommended the following extentions:

PuPv7 – Fantastic for manipulating data, especially text. Works with Excel 2007 and 2010

Ubersuggest – Great KW research tool based on ‘Google Suggest’ Can be downloaded into a CSV format.


Use automated tools for your keyword research, to free up time and resources and analyse performance data.

All the paid tools in the world are useless if you don’t take the time to analyse the data.

Andy Milhalop

Andy works for, one of the largest comparison sites in the UK. PPC is their primary acquisition channel so it is essential that it is leveraged for maximum benefit at all times. They currently have 50 product channels and manage 10 million keywords (plus 5 million negative keywords). Smart Bid technology is critical to their business model. They need a scalable account structure that can be updated frequently, easily and accurately and will maximise their Quality Score before they even begin bidding.

Andy argues that to design your strategy and your technology, you need to understand the customer journey – this is particularly critical when dealing with millions of keywords. have a PPC team of 8 who are currently using Efficient Frontier as their campaign tool of choice. With 10 million keywords to manage, they couldn’t scale without this kind of technology and they also utilize the multi-channel capability of Efficient Frontier to monitor SEO, social media and other campaigns.

Andy also extols the virtue of Excel especially the use of Pivot Tables.


Hire someone smart to custom build Excel tools

Utilise APIs to process data

Optimise beyond the click – try to give the user a personalised experience to improve conversion rates.

Jonathan Dunkley

MinuteSteak, part of the Steak Group, focus on paid search strategies for small to medium businesses and use SearchMonitor to track the competition and AdInsight to measure offline conversions.

Search Monitor

This tool will scrape the SERPS for a selected list of keywords and will return both the organic and the paid search results.  This then enables you to see if your competitors have changed their offers (i.e. price, shipping etc). It also allows you to see if any affliate sites are bidding on any restricted keywords.


This phone tracking system will generate dynamic telephone numbers that can then be used to track offline conversions by keyword and by referrer. It can be tracked via Google Analytics and it will also alert you to any missed calls.


Tools will speed up analysis and increase profitably and revenue.

Main takeaway of the session

Automated Tools can be expensive but they are also essential for medium to large PPC campaigns. However, make sure the team are trained to get the very best use out of them at all times.

The coverage of A4U Expo on State of Search in part made possible by a sponsoring from Majestic SEO who have the largest Link Intelligence database in Search. To get your free trial, give a card to this blogger or Bas van den Beld in person at the conference or drop us an e-mail.


Written By
Carla Marshall is Director of SEO at
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