The Pros and Cons of Google AdWords Certification

If you want to get noticed in 2017, being online is a must. If you really want to get noticed, you will probably have to pay for some kind of online advertising. And when it comes to paid ads, there’s only one king in the digital marketing kingdom – Google AdWords. It amassed a whopping $79.4 billion in revenue in 2016 for Google, at an average cost per acquisition of $59.18.

What is the Google AdWords Certification?

The certification is the official test by Google on how well you manage AdWords. It test your knowledge on PPC basics and best practices and it is necessary to work in any reputable PPC agency.

In order to get certified for AdWords, you need to pass at least two tests. The first one is the AdWords Fundamentals exam, which is obligatory for everyone. You can choose the second exam, based on what will be the most useful (or easiest) for you to do.

google adwords exams list

You can choose from Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising and Shopping Advertising. You are required to pass at least one of these, but you can go for as many as you want to.

The passing score for each of the tests is at least 80%. The time limit is 120 minutes for Fundamentals, Search and Display Tests and 90 minutes for Mobile, Video and Shopping tests. There is no option of pausing the timer at any point during the test.

So what do you need to pass the test? There’s a huge number of websites out there offering help with getting certified. Whether it’s cheat sheets, tips, promises of nailing the test in 20 minutes, you’ll find lots of dubious results. In the end, all you need are the resources offered by Google themselves. There is a study guide for each of the tests and that alone is enough to have you ready to ace the test.

To go find out how to apply to take the test and get certified, check out this step-by-step guide on Google Partners Help.

Why you should get AdWords Certification

Perhaps you’ve been wondering if getting the AdWords certification is worth the effort. Here are a few good reasons why you should consider getting certified. Before going further, we need to clarify that taking the exam is free, as long as you have a Google Partner profile.

Recognition and credibility

Once you pass your exams and get certified, you get something pretty cool. Every individual or company to successfully complete the test gets an accreditation. If you have an agency, you get a badge titled Google Partner which you can show off and put it on your website or blog. On the other hand, individuals get certified – you get a personalized certificate from Google.

google partner badge

On the list of brands to trust, Google ranks pretty high for most people. Having an AdWords certification badge on your site will give you and your company credibility. If a client is looking for someone to manage their PPC campaigns, they will certainly trust a Google Partner over a company without any accreditation.

People will be able to find you

What if there was an inventory of professionals with completed AdWords certifications? You’re in luck, as Google’s got your back. If you visit this page, you can search for certified Google Partners. Simply type in the type of service that you need along with a location and voila. You get a list of all the PPC professionals in your area, along with specializations, contact info and minimum monthly budget for a project. This is a super easy way to advertise your services, for free.

You will get invaluable knowledge and skills

Depending on where you currently stand, you will be able to learn a lot about AdWords and pay per click advertising. For a complete beginner, you will get fully immersed into AdWords and learn the basics. If you have PPC experience but lack certification – even better. The exam and preparation will show you new AdWords options you never used and knew about.

Learn more than AdWords

Learning more never hurt anyone. If you get proficient with AdWords, you will most likely pick up a few useful skills on the side. Google’s SEO toolset is tightly connected and if you know AdWords, you will have to get used to Google Engage and Google Analytics as well.

Why not get AdWords Certification

While there are many proponents of getting certified for AdWords, there are those who think it’s not the end-all PPC certification. Let’s go over some of the reasons why getting certified is not that great of an idea.

You can cheat during the test

Perhaps the biggest flaw in getting certified for AdWords is the ability to cheat. We’re not saying you will, we’re just saying that it’s a likely option. Since there’s no way for Google to control what you’re doing in your browser, you can just open up another tab or laptop and search for the answers.

What’s more, the only constraint when taking the test is the time limit. Within the 120 minutes, there’s no one to check up on you and see if you’re looking anywhere besides the test.

Even though (presumably) most people will not go the route of cheating, it still remains a possibility. If you successfully passed the test on your own, there may be others who cheated. The value of your grade is, unfortunately, the same as theirs in the eyes of a potential employer.

A side note on cheating, if you do actually decide for it. The certification test has about 100 questions total, and you have 120 minutes to finish it. At about one minute per question, you will need excellent research skills and at least some knowledge of the subject matter to cheat. And if you already go through the trouble of learning the basics, it’s better to actually learn everything and pass the test as it’s intended to be done.

It just gives you a driver’s license

For the most part, getting any type of license means that you merely passed the theoretical part of the exam. In reality, you probably don’t have many of the skills required to be fully proficient in the activity you took the test for.

Just think about it, how many years of driving experience did you have before you actually started feeling comfortable as a driver?

An AdWords certification means that you know the basics of PPC campaigns and the AdWords platform. In order to take the test, you don’t even have to have hands-on experience in managing a single campaign.

AdWords certification merely provides you with the basic tools in PPC management. You will know the theory – and that’s it. In order to gain practical AdWords knowledge, you need to get your hands dirty and try out of a few campaigns on your own.

You have to retake it every year

Objectively speaking, this is not so much of a con for a PPC novice. Digital advertising can change drastically within a year so it would be extremely useful to revise your knowledge. Retaking the test every year means re-learning the most important bits so they’re fresh in your memory.

On the other hand, seasoned PPC experts may find the process agonizing. If you have a great understanding of AdWords and you use it on a daily basis, taking a test on it every 12 months is a chore.

Should you get AdWords certified?

It depends on who you are, where you are in your career, and ultimately on your needs. If you’re just getting into PPC and learning the ropes of advertising online, you should definitely get an AdWords certification. You will learn the essentials and lay the ground for more complex advertising concepts. It is also extremely useful as social proof for potential employers and partners.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced PPC professional, getting certified won’t mean that much. Your track record will speak much more than a certification ever could. However, it’s great to have that Partner badge to show off as a sign of credibility. After all, with your skills, you should be able to pass it with ease on your first try every time.

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