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9 SEM Tools To Maximize Your Digital Marketing Strategy

SEM tools can help you launch, monitor, and improve your search ads. But there’s no one “best SEO tool.” When selecting which is right for your team, consider each tool's features and how they may benefit your marketing campaigns.

Feb 13, 2024

7 m read

Today’s customer journey makes search engine marketing (SEM) an essential part of a healthy marketing strategy. But with so many ad options and tools out there, it’s hard to know how to get started. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of the best SEM tools to help you monitor and analyze the effectiveness of your SEM ads and strategy.

Each of the tools below has its pros and cons, so you may find that one tool alone won’t meet your needs. Using two or three tools can help you fill gaps between tools and get a more comprehensive overview of your ad performance.

Without further ado, let’s talk SEM tools.

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1. Google Ads 

The quintessential tool for SEM, Google Ads is a must-have for any serious marketer. With its wide-reaching capabilities, Google Ads enables marketers to deploy targeted ad campaigns across Google’s vast network. This includes search results, YouTube, partner sites, and even Gmail. 


  • Keyword Planner: Use Google’s keyword research tool to select words and phrases that match your offerings and target audience.
  • Recommendations: Finetune your ads with Google’s one recommendations.


  • Wide Reach: Google Ads has an extensive network, providing marketers with a vast audience base.
  • Targeting Options: Google Ads offers a variety of targeting options, allowing marketers to reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and behavior.
  • Performance Tracking: The platform provides robust analytics, helping marketers track campaign performance and optimize accordingly.


  • Complexity: Google Ads can be complex for beginners — there’s a steep learning curve before you can utilize all its features.
  • Cost: Depending on the competitiveness of the keywords, advertising with Google Ads can be expensive.

2. Semrush  

Semrush is a powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing, encompassing search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing (SMM), and content. It provides excellent analytics that will help you understand your competition’s strategies in display advertising, organic and paid search, and link building. It’s like having an inside look at what your competitors are doing, which can be invaluable in this competitive digital world.  


Semrush lets you:

  • See your competitors’ best keywords and discover new competitors.
  • Uncover your competitors’ ad strategies and budgets.
  • Analyze competitors’ display ads.
  • Conduct a deep link analysis and understand referring domains’ authority.
  • Find the right keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns.
  • Define your product listing ads’ competitors.


  • Comprehensive data that covers almost all aspects of SEM: Improve your ads with data-driven insights.
  • Excellent competitor analysis tools: Pick your competitors’ brains without them knowing it.
  • Easy-to-use interface: Get started quickly.


  • Data can sometimes be overwhelming for new users.
  • Semrush can be an expensive investment for small businesses or individual users.

3. Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertising is comparable to Google Ads; some see the two as direct competitors though there are huge differences in audiences. Microsoft Advertising lets you create ads, bid on keywords, and monitor campaigns on Bing, Yahoo!, and AOL.

Running PPC ads through Microsoft Advertising is generally less costly than doing so on Google Ads since Google has more users. If your target audience prefers Bing, though, Microsoft Advertising is the way to go.


  • Microsoft Advertising is less expensive than Google Ads.
  • It’s a good way to diversify your search engine marketing tools.


  • Microsoft’s browser is not as popular as Google’s.

4. AdEspresso

AdEspresso is a one-stop solution for managing and optimizing ads across a multitude of platforms, including Google, Facebook, and Instagram. Considering today’s diverse advertising landscape, it makes sense to have a tool that seamlessly integrates multiple platforms. Plus, your AdEspresso subscription gives you access to help from ad campaign experts. These professionals will review your campaigns and give you data-driven suggestions on adjusting your strategy. 


  • Multi-platform Ad Management: No need to juggle between different platforms. Create, manage, and optimize ads for Google, Facebook, and Instagram, all from one dashboard.
  • Performance Analytics: The platform provides real-time insights into your ads’ performance, allowing for timely tweaks and improvements.
  • A/B Testing: Easily test different ad variations to determine what resonates best with your audience.


  • Unified Dashboard: Manage all your ads from a single interface, saving time and reducing complexity.
  • Optimization Suggestions: The tool provides actionable recommendations to improve ad performance.
  • Budgeting and Scheduling: Plan your ad spend and schedule campaigns with ease.


  • Learning Curve: While user-friendly, new users might need some time to familiarize themselves with all its features.
  • Subscription Costs: Depending on your advertising needs, the tool’s pricing might be a factor for smaller businesses or individual users.

5. Skai (Formerly Kenshoo)

Skai stands out as a comprehensive solution tailored to manage, automate, and optimize your SEM campaigns. 

Skai is designed for companies at the enterprise level and allows you to take bulk action on ads across multiple platforms. One of the most notable benefits of Skai is that it lets you analyze data from walled garden platforms like Amazon and Walmart. These mega companies don’t typically allow advertisers an inside look at how/where their ads are populating. Skai gives you privileged access to this information. 

Skai also offers what it calls “opportunities” and “watchouts.” These are notifications about weak points in your ads and suggestions for optimizing underperforming campaigns. Plus, you’ll see how much money you have coming in relative to what you’re spending on PPC ads. 


  • Holistic Campaign Management: Oversee all aspects of your SEM campaigns from a unified dashboard, ensuring consistency and efficiency.
  • Intelligent Automation: Kenshoo’s advanced algorithms can handle routine tasks, allowing you to focus on strategy and creativity.
  • Cross-channel Insights: Skai’s insights can help you understand how your campaigns perform across different platforms and make data-driven decisions.


  • Scalability: Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, Skai scales to meet your SEM needs.
  • Forecasting Tools: Predict future performance based on historical data, helping you make informed budgeting decisions.
  • Integration Capabilities: Seamlessly integrate with other marketing tools and platforms for a cohesive strategy.


  • Pricing Model: Skai’s advanced features come at a cost, which might be a consideration for some businesses.
  • Initial Setup: The platform’s comprehensive nature means newcomers might have a steeper learning curve.
  • Customization Overload: While the tool offers a plethora of customization options, it can be overwhelming for users who prefer a more straightforward approach.

6. SpyFu

In the competitive world of digital marketing, SpyFu can emerge as your secret weapon. If you’ve ever wanted to peek into your competitors’ strategies, SpyFu is your go-to tool, offering unparalleled insights into their ranking histories and insights into their Google Ads campaigns so you can improve yours.


  • Competitor Keyword Research: Discover which keywords your competitors rank for.
  • Ad History: View competitors’ ad variations over the last 13 years.
  • SEO & PPC Competitor Analysis: Understand their strategies and find gaps in yours.


  • In-depth Insights: Gain a deep understanding of your competitors’ strategies.
  • User-friendly Interface: Easily navigate and extract the information you need.
  • Affordable Pricing: Access premium insights without breaking the bank.


  • Data Limitations: While extensive, data might not cover all niche industries.
  • Frequency of Updates: Some users might prefer more frequent data refreshes.

7. WordStream

WordStream is more than just a keyword tool; it’s a comprehensive platform designed to optimize your campaigns, especially for Google Ads. WordStream provides a detailed analysis of how your Google Ads are doing based on negative keyword usage, landing page quality, and ad text quality.

WordStream also helps you continuously build your keyword pool to make sure your target keyphrases remain relevant and give you a competitive edge over rival sites. 


  • Free Keyword Tool: Dive deep into keyword research and discover opportunities for your campaigns.
  • Google Ads Performance Grader: Get an instant report on your Google Ads performance and see where you can improve.
  • Smart Ads Creator: Automatically create and optimize Google Ads in minutes.


  • Comprehensive Analysis: Get detailed insights into your campaigns’ performance.
  • User-friendly Interface: Designed for both beginners and seasoned marketers.
  • Budget Management: Efficiently manage your ad spend with their recommendations.


  • Limited Platforms: While it’s great for Google Ads, WordStream might not cover all advertising platforms.
  • Pricing: Some advanced features come at a premium cost.

8. Optmyzr

Optmyzr guides marketers with advanced automation specifically tailored for Google Ads. With its focus on efficiency, Optmyzr can help ensure that your Google Ads campaigns are always a step ahead of the competition. Create and edit campaigns across multiple platforms in one place. 


  • One-Click Optimizations: Simplify complex tasks with actionable recommendations and easy-to-implement changes.
  • Performance Analysis: Dive deep into your campaign metrics and understand where improvements can be made.
  • Script Templates: Customize and automate your Google Ads with ready-to-use script templates.


  • Time-Saving: Automate routine tasks and focus on strategy.
  • User-Friendly: Despite its advanced features, it’s designed for marketers of all levels.
  • Regular Updates: The platform is constantly evolving with new features and improvements.


  • Pricing: Premium features come at a cost, which might be a consideration for smaller businesses.
  • Platform Specific: While it’s excellent for Google Ads, Optmyzr doesn’t cover other advertising platforms.

9. AdRoll

AdRoll is not just another retargeting platform; it’s a holistic solution for marketers looking to reach their audience across multiple touchpoints. From retargeting to prospecting and even email marketing, AdRoll ensures your brand remains top-of-mind for your audience. 


  • Cross-Platform Retargeting: Reach your audience wherever they are, be it on the web, social media, or their inbox.
  • Dynamic Creative: Automatically tailor your ads based on user behavior and preferences.
  • Audience Segmentation: Target specific user segments with tailored campaigns for better conversion rates.


  • Multi-Channel Approach: The platform focuses on engaging your audience across web, social, and email.
  • Intuitive Design: Adroll sports an easy-to-use interface with actionable insights.
  • Integration Capabilities: The tool seamlessly integrates with other marketing tools and platforms.


  • Pricing Model: Depending on your advertising needs, costs can add up.
  • Learning Curve: While user-friendly, new users might need some time to familiarize themselves with all its features.

Enhance Your Search-First Strategy

SEM is better with SEO! By using both as part of a search-first strategy, you increase your chances of getting your important web pages in front of your target audience. Learn more about the effectiveness of a comprehensive SEO strategy — schedule a free consultation today.

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