First, let’s get a few obvious ones out of the way.
Apart from the tools that sit in the Google Ads interface itself, there are three I’m not including in this list that definitely count as ‘tools that every PPCer should know about’.
Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics and Google Ads Editor.
Although there are still plenty of PPCers who aren’t enjoying the benefits of tracking with GA, the convenience of getting a handle on the back end of a site with GTM, or the flexibility of bulk editing with GAds Editor… They’re still just too close to home for this list.
I’m aiming for at least a couple that might be new to you here. Let’s see…
So keywords aren’t what they used to be… and covering off every specific variation of a phrase is no longer a good use of your time.
But a large part of most keyword lists still involves multiple variations of a few root components.
Plugging these into a tool that instantly spits out every a+b+c combination of lists like this, is one of the biggest time-savers when it comes to campaign builds and expansion.
There are a few free tools that do exactly this job.
My favourite is this one from Found.com.
But Data Studio is a more worthy entry here, as it’s much more flexible than those, and capable of serving both as your reporting system, AND as a great internal analysis tool.
If you’re not familiar with it, I won’t be able to do justice to all its features in this post, and further reading will be in order.
But in summary, DS is a business information tool, which links up with your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts seamlessly, and with other platforms fairly easily.
It can then combine, slice, dice, and display data in an impressive array of tables and charts, which can be viewed in real time through a unique URL.
It’s flexible enough on the design side to make passably attractive reports. Pushed to its limits, it can even be used to make this kind of thing. (Someone’s got skills…)
Opteo is a Google Ads optimisation tool that acts as a trusty and vigilant assistant (who’s secretly even more competent than you, but wouldn’t dream of telling you so).
Its recommendations are sensible, clearly explained, and straightforward to apply (imagine what Google’s in-built recommendations *should* be, and you’ll get the idea).
If you’d like to try it free for an extended period, Opteo have kindly offered members of my Facebook group a 90-day trial (no card required)… Join the group and see instructions in the welcome post if you want to take advantage of that.
Adalysis is the only other third-party ‘management tool’ that I recommend. This one for a specific purpose…
Adalysis is great for running ad text tests flexibly, across multiple ad groups, and judging winners against a range of criteria.
It was also built by Brad Geddes (One of the best PPC theorists around) which doesn’t hurt.
When it comes to testing landing pages, there are plenty of tools out there, but Google Optimize has been quietly improving for the last few years, and now has a super-intuitive interface, with one of the best WYSIWYG design apps I’ve seen.
So given its ($0) price tag, Google Optimize is hard to beat for getting you into the good habit of testing landing page changes.
Some clients like to see the ads that you’re proposing to run for their campaign.
Fair enough, and it’s best if you can show the ads as they will appear in the wild.
The most up-to-date, realistic text ad mockup tool is this one by Karooya.
And if sharing and collaborating on ad suggestions is a common part of your workflow, PPC Ad Editor covers the whole process.
I’ll be honest – you can live without this one… fairly comfortably.
But it’s interesting (and if it’s interesting, you should know about it, right?).
When comparing two instances of any entity (keyword / ad / landing page…) based on your chosen success metric – in the absence of a controlled test – how confident can you be that one of them is meaningfully outperforming the other?
Can you say that an ad with 7 conversions from 250 clicks converts better than an ad with 5 conversions from 200? Do you have a large enough data sample to make the call? Does the first ad have enough data but not the second?
Well – there’s a formula to cut through those questions, and give you a percentage likelihood of one variant proving to outperform the other in the long term.
The best free tool I’ve found for using that formula is at abtestcalculator.com.