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As a lot of regular readers know, I love finding ways to save time and make the little, sometimes repetitive parts of my job go by quicker so I can focus more on the detailed, analytical portions – and optimizing, optimizing, optimizing!  After about a year in the trade, here are some of my favorite tools that I’ve discovered to make my job easier:

1)  URL Opener

As we all know, sometimes we can’t judge a book by its cover, or, well, a URL by its domain name. When doing a content review, it’s important to go through all the sites your client is appearing on, but often it becomes tedious. URL opener is able to open around 15-20 URLs at a time, preventing you from having to type .com 300 times into the browser window and also leaving you the ability to stay sane.

2) Bulk URL Checker

Many of us have faced the situation where we’ve ended up appending on various tracking code, etc. to URLs, and we want to, of course, make sure that the end destination URL still works and doesn’t redirect (therefore making all the tracking, you know, not anywhere near as valuable). But after we’ve built out tons of URLs, it can, once again, be a pain to deal with all of them. Enter my friend – the bulk URL checker. Here you can run up to 50 URLs at a time through, and it will tell you if there’s a 404 or a redirect, so you know exactly where the problems lie.

3) Keyword Permutations

Let’s say you’re starting a campaign from scratch and need to build out some keywords. For example, your client sells scarves. You need to build out keywords for every possible color scarf, combined with ‘scarf,’ ‘scarves,’ ‘pashmina,’ etc. It could get exhausting typing and retyping and concatenating (oh my)! With this tool, you can type out the first modifier (see below), then the second one, and get all options. You can choose to output in just one order or all (depending on your match type choices).

keyword permutations tool

4)  Microsoft Excel’s ASAP Utilities

Basically, it’s a bunch of shortcuts for common SEM data analysis and keyword dilemmas. Need to add something to the front or back (or both) of a cell? Even quicker than concatenate, try text function #1. Need to delete all hidden rows? Try columns & rows #9. Need to trim off extra spaces? Text #9. We also covered some other great shortcuts in a previous guest post.

5) 2010 Microsoft Excel’s Format Painter

We SEMs all deal with Excel on a regular basis – for client reporting, etc. A nice quick way to keep formatting consistent is to use Format Painter.Simply highlight the cell with the desired formatting, then click format painter, then highlight the cell that you want to have said formatting and voila – much quicker than going through all the individual steps of selecting bold, selecting a background color, etc. etc. Who wants to do that? Check out the side-by-side difference:

format painter cell

format painter cell fixed

So these are a few of my fave tools as an SEM. Does anyone have any others to add to the list?

Jaime Sikora, Account Manager