As the use of programming languages continues to increase in digital marketing, APIs are powerful tools for technical insight and growth.
I will look at the best APIs that SEOs and PPC professionals can use to improve performance for their campaigns.
What is an API
API stands for Application Programming Interface and it’s a set of functions and procedures that applications can access to complete certain tasks.
Imagine you’re sitting at home and log into Amazon. They hold the items you need and arrange your order. The missing link is placing your order and Amazon delivering it to you. You place your order on the website and the Amazon Web Services API acts as a messenger, telling the ordering system what has been bought and where it needs to go. Then a courier delivers the item(s) to you.
Benefits of using an API
Without APIs, businesses would need to create the functions they need from scratch and then create the applications to use them. By using third-party services, it can save time and resources.
Some of the biggest benefits of APIs are:
- Automation: APIs give you the ability to automate your work without having to tinker with the source. For example, Google Ads API lets you automate your account management.
- Scope: There’s a specific use case for scopes within authorisation but from a wider perspective, APIs allow you to create better more personalised UX for your users.
- Efficiency: Using third party APIs save a lot of time and resources for developers.
- Scalability: The scalability of APIs are as wide as your imagination. Companies like Google and Facebook rely heavily on APIs to power their infrastructures and provide customers with access to them.
- Integration: APIs are created in such a way that any programming language can be used to access them, helping to create a multitude of apps.
- Adaptation: As technology advances, so do APIs. Software companies improve and adapt their APIs and so, too, should the businesses that use them. Flexibility is key.
- Cost: Most providers give affordable plans to use their APIs and, depending on the scale of your use, it could be more cost-effective to use one than to create one yourself. Google’s array of APIs are free to use while many are freemium, like Serpstack.
To paraphrase Newton’s Third Law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposing reaction”. The same can be said of APIs.
Some of the challenges with APIs are:
- Safety: Imagine a pool of water that a village uses. Someone puts a colourless and odourless liquid in the water that causes everyone to be sick. Suddenly, the pool is off-limits and hundreds of people have been affected. APIs can suffer a similar fate if hackers gain access and insert harmful code into them, causing end users to be at risk. This isn’t regular or synonymous with APIs but with all forms of data, it is possible so take that into consideration.
- Cost: Cost is an advantage and a disadvantage. Say there’s a surge in user access to your app and you go above your API call limit. Suddenly, your app stops working and you can’t necessarily afford more requests. That will stunt growth. That’s why it’s best to forecast these things (and you could probably use an API for that too).
APIs for SEOs
You’ve read about the pros and cons – now it’s time to look at the best APIs for SEOs and PPC professionals.
When I started learning Python last year, I needed a project to work on and decided on web scraping. But scraping data from Google SERPs isn’t as easy as, say, a webpage on a news site. So I looked for an API that could help and Serpstack came to the rescue.
Serpstack’s API allows scraping of Google SERP data in real-time and at scale. It takes a matter of minutes to retrieve and then export to JSON or CSV.
The types of data you can access include:
- Ad Results
- Organic Results
- Image Results
- Video Results
- News Results
- Shopping Results
- Local Results
- Answer Box
- Weather Box
- Top Carousel
- Top Stories
- Knowledge Graph
- Related Searches
- Related Questions
- Related Places
The API I call “Ser Papi” and picture Hamlet Batista every time I see it, SerpApi offers the same types of features (namely Google SERP scraping) but with different pricing and types of requests.
The added advantage to SerpApi is access to other search engines including:
Knowledge Graph Search API
The first of four Google APIs, the Knowledge Graph Search API gives you access to entities in the Google Knowledge Graph. With entity search growing in importance for SEO, use of an API like this can provide scalable insight into context and how terms are linked on search engines.
Google My Business API
The perfect API for a local SEO, Google My Business API lets you manage your GMB account and location data. That includes how your data is presented and management of user-created data.
There are also use cases for PPC professionals who use the AdWords API for management of location extensions.
Search Console API
Where would we be without Search Console to help us monitor our technical performance on Google Search? The Search Console API extends that usability with the ability to automate access to things like your top 10 search queries, click and impression data, and plenty more.
Google Analytics API
Google Analytics is also essential to Google search performance so API access has fantastic and wide-ranging use cases. Google calls it “the most advanced programmatic method to access report data in Google Analytics” and for good reason. Some of the features and capabilities include:
- The power to build custom dashboards that display Google Analytics data.
- Automation of reporting tasks.
- Integration of data with other apps.
- The ability to request multiple datasets at once (eg. data in a date range or multiple segments).
- Creation of pivot tables.
Besides Google, SEMrush is the biggest web crawler on the internet which means it has a lot of data to sift through. The SEMrush API gives you a streamlined way of analysing that data, integration for existing applications and dashboards. You can also track keywords, domains, and position changes.
If you need domain/page authority analysis, Moz is the place to go. The Mozscape API gives you access to 36.5 trillion links and a host of ways to analyse them, including:
- Number of referring domains
- Anchor text
- Number of followed and no-followed links
- Integration into existing apps and dashboards
APIs for PPC professionals
APIs can really enhance PPC management but what APIs are available to do that? Here are a few suggestions.
Google Ads API Beta
Automation is crucial for Google Ads accounts with hundreds of accounts with hundreds of ad groups. With the Google Ads API (still in beta), users can access the Google Ads platform directly and take hold of more complex Google campaigns. Some of the key uses include:
- Automated account management
- Custom reporting
- Smart Bidding management
For agencies, brands, or companies with the resources to use the API, this is a fantastic asset.
Amazon Advertising API
Amazon’s Advertising API lets you manage campaigns programmatically like the Google Ads API. You can automate and optimize your ads and analyse your performance data as well as take care of that much-needed reporting. Some uses include:
- Great for agencies without the resources to directly integrate the API as Amazon can do that for you
- Also great for agencies that do have the resources and can manage large scale accounts and campaigns
Another great PPC API is Shape API. It gives you access to Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads APIs in one place. It’s perfect for agencies and companies in need of multi-ad platform management and scalable project management. Some of its benefits:
- Make one call rather than four thanks to the unified interface
- The API is updated regularly so there’s no time being spent in maintaining it
- It’s also user-friendly – you can analyse data and create bespoke reports based on your campaign structure
Adzooma’s Proposal Builder
And speaking of helpful assets in PPC management, there’s also Adzooma’s Proposal Builder, which allows you to set up complete client campaigns in under 5 minutes.
To get started, simply provide a few client details, such as their website and contact details, and the Proposal Builder will take care of the rest. It adds keywords, builds ad groups, and creates search and display ads from scratch in just a few clicks within the Adzooma platform.
Looking for something bespoke that can help you automate internal processes? Integrate with the Proposal API.
The main features include:
- The ability to build fully tailored campaigns for Google and Microsoft
- Create Google Ads & Microsoft Ads accounts for clients who are new to advertising
- You can create campaigns that work with any budget
Adzooma’s Proposal API builders are all bespoke, so to take full advantage contact the Adzooma team.
How to access them
I’ll make this brief as it could be an article all in itself.
API access is easy with any programming language you use and there are a lot of different types. But in terms of communication, two of the most popular are:
- SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) – These are more complex and require a deeper knowledge to access but they are very secure.
- REST (Representational State Transfer) – These are less complex, more data-driven, and more commonly used by a wider range of users. They use HTTP and JSON so they’re easier to understand and export.
For this example, I’ll use Serpstack and Python as an example.
You would first import the necessary module to access the data (requests in this case) and then set your access parameters as a dictionary, including your access key and your search query.
Then, you’d use requests to use the API to search Google with your specific access key and query before printing the response in the JSON format (or you could export it to CSV, depending on your package).
Most API providers offer code examples but the basic gist for access is to set your authorisation variables and use them to access the API before making necessary calls. Some APIs don’t require authorisation but check how that works from the provider’s website.
A lot of SEO and PPC work involve boring tasks and APIs offer scalability and automation to get them done. Whether you use paid services or free ones, you can be sure APIs take away most of the hassle from your groundwork.