I’m a huge fan of Excel, even though I can’t write a macro to save my life. My brain doesn’t seem to want to work in an entirely logical fashion, for which I am usually grateful, but not when I’m trying to figure out a way to organize a ton of data and get to the core of a problem or figure out a way to transpose some data without changing the cell references. Luckily, there are free and inexpensive products out there that can help the logic-challenged such as me when we’re working with any kind of database problem. And, of course, if you are working on a paid search campaign, managing a lot of data can be part of the routine, day-to-day management.
One such area was brought up by Jen at PPC Hero, who has written a post showing in great detail how to overcome a challenge with using Yahoo!’s paid search interface to figure out bid adjustments. Here’s the problem, as identified by Jen:
The keyword report from the interface gives you the average CPC, not your max CPC, and the desktop tool doesn’t show you the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you will want to see to base your decisions on, like average position and click-through rate.
The post then goes out to detail, step by step, how to use Excel to manipulate the data that Yahoo! does provide in order to achieve the goal. Awesomeness.
If you are using Yahoo! for paid search, I’d definitely recommend you check out her post. It will make your job so much easier.
And speaking of Excel making things easier, I use two main tools to help me with typical Excel-type tasks. Both are add-ins to Excel and are relatively cheap. They easily integrate and save me literally hours and hours of time when I’m sorting through a mountain of data to find the info I need and presenting it in the manner I need. The ones I use are ASAP Utilities and AbleBits. These guys can accomplish some complicated things quickly, but they also take care of those repetitive tasks that can drive one to distraction, like deleting all empty rows in a sheet in one fell swoop, after you’ve spent time going through 9,999 rows copying bits and pieces to other spreadsheets and have a bunch of empty rows scattered throughout or splitting up the text in a cell into multiple columns. My absolute favorite, however, is the multi-featured duplicate identification and remover tools, which let you compare two sheets, find the duplicates and then do a number of things with them (delete them, move them, color them a certain color, etc.) — truly a lifesaver if you’re trying to put two keyword lists together, for example, without duplicates. ASAP Utilities even has a feature that tracks how much time you save by using their tools and will calculate how much money you saved using your hourly rate. For example, it figured I saved .5 hours by using the tool to delete leading and trailing spaces in cells, which took the tool a second or two to accomplish.
Perhaps one day I will master the macro and I will look back on my reliance upon such add-ins with laughter, but for now, I’ll rely on my Excel tools and let more logical minds than mine push the macro barrier.