What's in a search marketer's toolbox? It can vary depending on the type of work and scale of job being performed. Below is a general guide to the types of tools you may come across. For reviews and articles about specific tools, see the SEM Tools category of Search Topics in Search Engine Watch.
Bid Managers: These tools are designed to help you research, manage and get the best price for paid listings with search engines, some with the official authorization of the search engines themselves.
- Log Analysis & Web Analytics Tools: These tools let you understand exactly how people came to your web site, either by analyzing log data or analysis of data stored remotely. They are one of the best ways to understand if a search marketing campaign is working, because they show you exactly how people came to your web site and what they did there. For a short overview of log analysis, see the Log Analysis: Seeing The Keywords Used To Find Your Web Site article.
- Rank Checking Tools: Rank checkers or position checkers allow you to see how your pages are ranked on different search engines. However, a better way to measure search engine performance is through log analysis or web analytics, which show you the actual way people have come to your web site. With rank checking, you're guessing at what terms people might be using. What you're guessing at may have no relation to what actually is being used.
Deep Submission Tools: Designed to submit many pages from your site to crawler-based search engines. This is known as a "deep submit," and the Submitting To Search Engines & Encouraging Crawlers article explains the concept in more depth. It's something generally not necessary or even effective. Instead, site architecture tips as covered in that article can help get more of your pages be found. Deep submit tools may also have other capabilities, such as page analysis features.
- Multisubmit Tools: Designed to submit your web site to hundreds of crawler-based search engines and human-powered directories at the same time. These aren't recommended for use with the major search engines. Instead, they are an excellent way to target the many minor search engines that aren't worth the time investment of doing a manual submit. Be aware that if you submit to Free For All (FFA) sites, you are likely to end up with a lot of spam filling your email box. For that reason, you might consider using a temporary email address or one different from your main address for submission purposes.
- Page Analysis Tools: There are a variety of tools designed to help you produce what I call the "perfect page" for crawler-based services. Be forewarned -- there is no guarantee that these perfect pages actually will rank well. See the In Pursuit Of The Perfect Page article for more comments about the perfect page concept.
- Keyword Density Analyzers: These are tools that tell you how frequently a term is being used in relation to other words in your documents. As with page analysis tools, be aware that even achieving the "perfect" keyword density is no guarantee of ranking success.
Meta Tag Checkers: Less ambitious than page analyzer tools, these tools are designed primarily to determine if your meta tag coding is correct. Be aware that there are no "official" rules for meta tags that the search engines follow. They each may allow different lengths, honor different tags and have their own unreleased filters to watch for excess repetition.