If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you are a serious pay per click marketing professional, or you would like to be one someday. And that’s great! There are a lot of job opportunities out there for online marketing professionals, and it’s an exciting new field. However, the field is so new that there are not many opportunities in higher education to specialize in PPC marketing. You can’t exactly get a college degree in PPC…yet.
So how do you prove your PPC chops to potential employers? Right now, the gold standard is Google’s AdWords certification. Just about everyone who is running a PPC campaign is running it in Google, so if you’re going to learn how to do PPC, you had better know how to run a Google AdWords campaign effectively. The Google AdWords certification tests your knowledge of the platform, and best practices to ensure that your campaigns are profitable.
Preparation for the test is totally free, so there’s no reason not to study for it. You can access all of the lessons online at the Google AdWords Learning Center. Lessons are available in text or video format, and they cover just about everything you need to know about what’s going to be on the certification exam.
The exam itself is about 100 questions, and has a two-hour time limit. It is open-book (which means you should probably leave a tab open to the AdWords help center as you take the test), but you’re going to need some serious time management skills in order to finish before the clock runs out. In order to pass, you’ll need to score 85% or better. There is a $50 fee to take the test, but keep in mind you have to pay that every time you retake that if you fail. Use that as a motivator to get it right the first time around.
Passing the AdWords certification exam isn’t all you need to get certified – it’s only the beginning. In order to be registered as a qualified professional, you also need to manage $1000 or more in AdWords spend over a 90-day period. You can either do this with your own account, or link to an existing account through your own client center account. The trickiest part of getting certified is getting someone to trust you with their AdWords spend. If you pass the test beforehand and show that you know your stuff, you’re going to have a better chance of landing a client who will help you finish your certification requirements.
Here’s some advice from someone who has taken and passed the exam. First, keep in mind that the correct answer on the Google test may not necessarily be the best real-world answer. I know this may sound counterintuitive, but think of it this way: Google has a vested interest in training people to spend as much money as possible on AdWords. So, a lot of Google test answers go like this: “Q: How do I improve performance in my Google account? A: Spend more money on Google!” So, be extra careful on the strategy questions. Second, two hours is definitely not long enough to finish all of the questions. Study and memorize as much as you can before you start, because looking up the answers burns up precious time. Skip too many questions, and you won’t make it to 85%.
Once you pass the test and meet the ad spend management requirements, you’ll get a nifty icon to put on your website that tells the world that you passed the certification. As an added bonus, you’ll also get some AdWords promotional credits to give to your clients. But, most importantly, you will be recognized as an expert in the field. This will help you get work if you’re a freelancer, or help you land a job if you’re looking for a 9 to 5 gig. Good luck!