What is Search Marketing Software? Analysis of Features, Types, Benefits and Pricing

What is search marketing software? Search marketing software performs the processes involved in search engine marketing (SEM), usually automating repetitive tasks or streamlining time-consuming workflows for more efficiency. These include keyword research, SEO practices, PPC management and affiwliate marketing strategies. The goal of SEM is to increase your website’s search engine results pages visibility (SERPs) for more traffic, mainly through paid advertising. It uses a combination of strategies, including SEO (organic techniques), affiliate marketing, PPC, CPM and paid listings.

Likewise, the software solution consolidates related data to help you generate insights that are useful for SEM, for example, discovery of less-competitive but high-value long-tail keywords and search traffic analysis of your targeted websites.

The benefit of search marketing software solutions is even more pronounced considering that marketers have trouble generating traffic and leads, the top concern in marketing, according to the latest HubSpot report.

Source: HubSpot 2017

SEM deals with huge volumes of data for analysis that it requires a software solution that can speed up the process, make data-driven analysis, measure post-campaign metrics and increase your web traffic and, essentially, your conversion rate.

In this context, we prepared a guide to help you understand the definition of search marketing software and other questions you may have about it, like, what is search marketing software? After reading it, we hope you will have a clearer picture of the following:

  1. Examples of search marketing software
  2. Benefits of search marketing software
  3. Types of search marketing software
  4. Features of search marketing software
  5. Buying factors to consider
  6. Pricing of search marketing software
  7. Potential issues
  8. Latest trends

What Are Examples of Search Marketing Software?

To give you an idea how an SEM tool looks like, here are a few examples of search marketing software solutions:

  1. MOZ: Considered the leading SEO tool and a thought leader in the niche, this app features basic and sophisticated research tools for mainly SEO initiatives. The app performs weekly crawls on your website for potential issues that can jeopardize your organic ranking. It also features on-page optimization to reinforce your search ranking. Likewise, MOZ allows competitive analysis, as well as a detailed assessment of your highest-ranking web pages.
  2. RankActive: This app lets you track your online presence including search results and monitor your competitor’s. It also features a Brand Monitor that helps you spot your brand mentions across blogs, news, social networks and other places on the web. Other RankActive features include a site auditor, backlinks explorer and website analytics.
  3. Positionly: It’s another SEO tool that can be a powerful part of your SEM arsenal. Positionly can check your website’s ranking based on different keywords on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Likewise, it has a keyword research, analysis and management tool to keep your valuable traffic sources streaming. Other features include Google Analytics integration, API and iOS mobile app.
  4. WooRankIt excels in mobile rendering, social media analysis, SERP ranking analysis and backlinks evaluation. The app is useful for web designers, SEO experts and digital marketers for identifying actionable search insights. WooRank also has KPI monitoring to help you track your preferred metrics.
  5. Ginzametrics: It has the standard features of search marketing software. It combines business intelligence with SEO tools, featuring a comprehensive tool set to implement a well-structured website. Ginzametrics is also useful for planning content strategies and analyzing competitor’s search performance. Likewise, it can be utilized to identify high-value keywords and topics relevant to your product.

MOZ dashboard gives you a feel of your social presence.

Why Use Search Marketing Software?

Why use search marketing software and how does search marketing software work? The ultimate goal of these solutions is to increase traffic. Broken into parts, here are the benefits of search marketing software.

  1. Reduce time-consuming tasks. When done manually, search marketing is time-consuming. Imagine feeding hundreds of keyword phrases just to come up with your top choices, or scouring the internet for backlink opportunities. There are now tools that streamline much of these SEM processes, allowing you to analyze thousands of keywords and websites in minutes. Moreover, you can perform continuous SEM processes to ensure your strategies are in tune with Google updates and customer behavior. This is critical to continuously boosting your search traffic or keeping your top position in your niche.
  2. Manage keywords better. Search marketing solutions features keyword management tools that help you align your content with relevant keywords or vice-versa. These tools also allow you to group related keywords and build a logical, branching hierarchy from high- to low-value keywords to guide your content schedule.
  3. Efficient PPC management. SEM solutions integrate with Google AdWords and other ad networks, which allows you to manage bids, ad groups, text ads and PPC campaigns on the search marketing software platform. If you’re using a number of ad networks, having them in one place is convenient and efficient.
    Furthermore, with more structured keyword groups, you boost your chances for higher Quality Scores and keywords rankings, leading to lower cost per click. Quality Score is Google’s way to prioritize quality PPC campaigns and penalize erring or low-value campaigns (from customers’ perspective). You get to score higher if your keywords are relevant to your offer or content and more people are clicking on your ads.
  4. Consolidated data. A good SEM software solution does away with the need for different search apps. Instead of using separate tools for marketing analytics, bid management and keyword management, you can perform all these on one platform. Your data is, thus, consolidated, workflow is seamless and updates are synced, leading to better insights that are essential to your strategic and day-to-day decisions. An integrated search marketing software solution aggregates confusing metrics and daunting graphs into insights that are understandable to you, for example, segregating traffic by variables like demographics, geography, traffic source and site page.
  5. Increase team collaboration. Most SEM solutions are cloud-hosted and allows multiple users to work together in real time. As these solutions also enable you to track the conversion types you target, you can see which ideas are working. It’s also easy to collate feedback and analysis from team members using a single interface. Moreover, your team clearly sees data in an actionable dashboard; you and your team can evaluate at once, for instance, negative keywords, keyword groups and text ads.
  6. Analyze the competition. Some solutions feature a tool that can perform on-site analysis on other websites. These include discovering their URLs, search volume, total CPC, average rank, linking sites and monthly traffic. Some sophisticated solutions even allow for site-level comparisons between yours and the competition’s.

What Are the Types of Search Marketing Software?

What are the types of search marketing software solutions? We can categorize them by the purpose of search marketing software, including their main feature, noting that many SEM solutions have a combination or all of these tools depending on their packages. You can also find apps that are primarily dedicated to any of these features:

  1. PPC management software. They enable you to create and measure paid campaigns including sponsored social posts and AdWord placements. Likewise, they’re useful to optimize your PPC bids and text ads based on past and real-time performance.
    Examples: WordStream, Finch, Unbounce
  2. Display campaigns and mobile apps. These tools provide insights on relevant contextual and banner ads. Likewise, they help you analyze your competitor’s ads including keywords, copy, design and landing pages. They can also help you spot similar ad campaigns and their variations that you can emulate or build on.
    Examples: SimilarWeb, semrush and MIXRANK
  3. Search analytics tools. They aggregate and analyze search engine-related statistics including your SERP  rankings, site traffic and trending topics. They help you align your content strategy and evaluate it on a regular basis.
    Examples: Google Analytics and mixpanel
  4. Keyword tools. They help you assess the importance of specific keyword sets including bid rates, competition level and search volume. They also help you group relevant keywords together and discover long-tail keywords that match your customer queries.
    Examples: Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner and Keywordtool.io
  5. Site crawlers. They scan and assess your website to determine its search ranking potential or weaknesses by aggregating its SEO elements, content relevance and inbound backlinks. They can feature heat maps that indicate the most popular sections of your on-site pages.
    Examples: MOZ, CrazyEgg, ScreamingFrog, and search metrics
  6. AdWords analytics. Many apps are designed to connect to Google AdWords and your database to help you manage Google bids and campaigns. These apps feature an intuitive UI utilizing drag-and-drop tools and visualizations that help average users run AdWord campaigns.
    Examples: SpyFu, Lithium, semrush
  7. Link building tools. Link building is still a major factor for search ranking. These apps help you discover broken links, assess a site’s SEO information and manage outreach campaigns. They also scrape for prospects and their contact details and rank them by value.
    Examples: Buzzstream, MOZ SEO Toolbar and LinkMiner
  8. Site-level comparison tools. These apps enable you to compare your website SEO strength versus your competitor’s. Metrics include monthly traffic, traffic sources and search rankings. These apps also generate historical trends that indicate whether you’re ahead or falling behind the competition. They are a good tool to size up your competitors.
    Examples: Alexa, Google Analytics and SimilarWeb

This is how Positionly looks in aciton

What Does Search Marketing Software Do?

What does search marketing software do and what are the features of search marketing software? Aside from standard cloud functions like role management, integration, reporting & dashboards and mobile support, search marketing software solutions offer the following functionalities:

  1. Keyword research. This tool continuously scour the internet for data-driven keywords to your websites and campaigns. It analyzes the keywords’ relevance, importance and competition, helping you select the most promising ones to drive traffic for you.
  2. Keyword Grouping and Organization. It’s easy to group together thousands of keywords with this tool for large-scale keyword targeting strategies. Sophisticated solutions can perform quick segmentation, helping you manage keywords in a structured way favored by Google and other search engines.
  3. PPC Management. SEM solutions integrate with Google AdWords and other PPC providers, allowing for managing bids, ad groups, text ads and, overall, your PPC campaigns inside the search marketing software interface.
  4. Analytics. Depending on the targeted metrics, search marketing solutions can run the numbers on conversions, clicks and search results to help you measure your PPC ads, paid listings, affiliate marketing placements, SEO strategies and other SEM campaigns. Furthermore, analytics can evaluate your domain strength, SERP performance and linking websites, providing you a big picture of your online presence.
  5. Local listing. To help increase your visibility in local markets, this tool manages listings on local search engines, namely, Google sub-domains, Google+ and Bing Local.
  6. SERP ranking. The feature tracks your organic search ranking over a period of time for trends and patterns, providing a historical insight to measure your SEM cost-effectiveness. It also helps you identify weaknesses in your strategies.
  7. Social analytics. Some solutions feature this tool that collates and analyzes your brand mentions, likes, shares and social media backlinks. It gives you a general idea of your positive-negative sentiment ratio.
  8. Brand alerts. Some solutions can identify websites that link to your URL or mention your brand or proprietary keywords.
  9. Site audit. The tool can spot potential issues encountered by search spiders on your website, such as, irrelevant backlinks, broken links and unstructured pages. An on-page analysis can also be performed to detect URL-content-keyword relevance.

What Should You Consider When Buying a Search Marketing System?

What are the factors to consider when buying search marketing software? Consider these four aspects and how the affect the success of your SEM campaigns.

  1. Functionalities. As we’ve shown in the different types of SEM solutions above, you have plenty of options for a SEM solution. That’s why you have to be clear what features you need, then explore your options around functionalities that meet your goals.
  2. Business size. Small business and large enterprise may have similar search marketing goals (increase traffic), but the approach is different given their operational size and resources. By focusing on an app that targets your business size, its features and pricing are more likely attuned to your needs. For example, most small businesses only require one or two paid tools for SEM; the rest they rely on free apps. Small businesses may benefit more from subscribing to small SEM apps than go for comprehensive tools. Conversely, large enterprises may find it more cost-effective to get a search marketing software that has most, if not all, SEM tools.
  3. Scalability. As with other SaaS products, SEM solutions should scale to your growing requirements. At the least, the app can integrate with other systems that you think will be important to your campaigns in the next few years. A safe bet is to check integration and price plans to size up how an app scales from basic to complex requirements.  
  4. Automation. This feature is key to running an efficient SEM strategy. Automation applies various SEM processes including scraping for broken links, analyzing on-site SEO elements, searching for prospects and their contact details for outreach campaigns, analyzing PPC metrics and generating interval reports for paid ads.

A quick look at RankActive dashboard.

What’s the Cost of Search Marketing Software?

How does search marketing software solutions charge? Usually, the plans are based on number of websites to be analyzed, volume of keywords and availability of more functionalities. Here are the typical cost of search marketing software solutions:

  1. MOZ: It offers small business and enterprise packages starting at $99 per month. The basic plan includes 300 keywords and 15 social accounts, while the premium plan, charged at $599 per month, features 5 major data aggregators and 1 top-tier listing.
  2. RankActive: Available in four pricing plans starting from $29.59 per month. A discounted annual subscription is also available. The key differentiator among the plans is the number of websites you can analyze, starting from 5 websites with the basic package up to 50 websites for the premium plan.
  3. Positionly: Starts at $5 per month for 10 keywords and one website only. The plans go up to $49 per month, which handles 500 keywords and 10 websites.
  4. WooRank: Its price plans are segregated between editions for webmasters and agencies. The webmaster version is at $49 per month, while the agency edition is at $149 per month.
  5. Ginzametrics: It’s available in four pricing packages to meet various business requirements and budget. The basic plan is at $1,000 per month featuring 2,000 keywords with the by-quote enterprise plan handling up to millions of keywords.

What Are Potential Issues When Implementing A Search Marketing Software?

Despite the many advantages of search marketing software, SEM solutions have a few issues that can affect your campaigns.While the benefits still outweigh the issues by a mile, it makes good sense to know the problems that come with SEM software.

  1. Global vs. local SEM. Businesses with local markets benefit more from local SEM strategies than trying to rank on universal SERPs. If the SEM software lack for functionalities that help you quickly spot and manage unclaimed listings, online citations, reviews and ratings and backlinks from localized websites, your SEM strategy will suffer.
  2. Being taken for a ride. Google’s search monopoly is a bane to many marketers, especially those that compete with the search engine giant’s products. Take for instance when EU slapped Google with $2.7 billion fine. The lawsuit arose from a class action against a perceived  manipulation by Google that favors its own shopping platform. Expedia, for one, claims Google has undermined the travel company’s SERPs for the Google’s online travel assets. No SEM solution can address this problem, if indeed it exists.
  3. Trademark infringement. SEM solutions can be used to discover your competitor’s trademarks and their variations that are not being used for online campaigns. Until now, the debate is up if companies that use proprietary brand names of their competitor as keywords for PPC ads or search campaigns are committing trademark infringement.

These trends are now happening and are expected to further impact on SEM solutions in the coming years as search strategies evolve or shift. In a few year’s time, the question what is search marketing software will have a greatly different answer because of these shifts.

  1. Voice search. Google reported that up to 25% of queries on their mobile site and Android devices are voice searches. SEM tools must adapt to this shifting consumer behavior to look for products and services. Concurrent with this trend, consumers are phrasing their search queries differently. According to the search giant, voice searches often don’t involve sensitive information, on-the-go topic and lack website engagement.
  2. Mobile advertising. eMarketer predicts that ad spending on mobile will hit 70% of total digital marketing budget in 2019. Google is already prioritizing mobile-responsive websites in its search results, a fact not lost to SEM solutions that feature mobile search tools.
  3. Snippets and rich answers. Google is now displaying information right on search results called snippets and the frequency is expected to only scale. The search engine has become a de facto answering tool for many of our questions, hence, the snippet. There are already SEM tools that help you build structured data markup to leverage this premium search space.
  4. Machine learning on search. Google has rolled out smart display campaigns that rely on machine learning. The technology helps the search engine to further fine tune search results by expanding the association of close word variants to identify query intentions, as, for example, the difference between news and product using the same keywords.
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