Google Ads is one of the most effective advertising tools to get more traffic to your website, and generate more leads. In fact, most businesses see an average of 200% ROI on their Google Ad spend.
To create better, more powerful ads on Google, it can be helpful to receive a Google Ads certificate. Additionally, it's a great resume booster.
If you're looking to get a Google Ads certificate, you've come to the right place. Here, we've created a guide that will explain why a Google Ads certification through Google's Skillshop is helpful, and how you can prepare and get certified.
What is Google Skillshop?
Google Skillshop is the home for all e-learning courses offered by Google product experts. This is where you'll head to become Google product certified, including in Google Ads, Google Ad Manager, and Analytics Academy.
Whether you're a beginner looking to dive into the world of Google products or an experienced marketing professional ready to up-level your skills, you'll find what you need in Skillshop.
Increase your knowledge in Google Ads Display, Ads Video, Shopping Ads, or even Google Ads measurement. Not sure why you'd go deeper than a working understanding of Google's product suite? Let's talk the "why" of getting certified, below.
Why get a Google Ads certification?
Years ago when I was applying for work, I interviewed a couple dozen people who worked in the digital marketing industry to learn about their jobs and the application process. Many emphasized the importance of getting a digital marketing certificate and in particular Google Ads certification.
The truth is that many employers search for people with this certification on LinkedIn to find employees for their marketing team. LinkedIn generally offers a talent pool of higher-quality than standard job boards like Indeed. Plus, the demand for marketers skilled in Google Ads is high, while the supply of qualifying candidates is relatively low.
Thanks to the internet, it's easier than ever before to apply for a job with little effort, so employers are swimming in low-quality choices.
To find qualified employees, then, many hiring managers use LinkedIn's search engine to find anyone with a Google Ads certification because it's one of the few defining qualifications that can show proven knowledge and skill. The certification shows the hiring manager that you're somewhat savvy about the industry.
The good news is that a lot of fresh talent don't have a certification on their LinkedIn profile or resume since they don't know the value of it. In other words, you can easily stand out if you get certified.
Even if you don't want a role in PPC, the certification is still helpful for any marketer. PPC advertising, especially through Google Ads, makes up the bulk of online advertising. If you understand the principles of Google Ads, you can translate those principles to other marketing efforts.
Additionally, having an understanding of neighboring areas of marketing helps with your communication among team members, and empathy. Ultimately, having that certification under your tool belt will only make you look better to employers.
How Applicable is the Certification in the Marketing Industry?
To be fair and objective, let's acknowledge the case against getting certified.
First, in terms of actual skill and practice, a certification isn't entirely applicable in a real marketing role. It's possible to score well or even perfectly on this exam without having actual experience with the platform, especially when there are exam answers online.
The exam can, at times, teach you the best answer in theory, which isn't close to the best answer in practice.
Having been in the Google Ads platform myself, I know that a few questions are unnecessarily complicated, not applicable, or biased toward a response focused on spending as much money as possible on Google's platform. Google makes money when you spend money on ads, regardless of whether the ad leads to a sale, so their intentions make sense.
With all that said, most of the questions are still valuable because they help you learn how to navigate the platform and make accurate calculations. You can grow a lot through preparing for this exam even if you initially have little to no knowledge of Google Ads.
You should take the test without cheating, learn from your incorrect answers, and retake it to improve. Otherwise, you may have a tough time with the platform later on, which can seem detailed and intimidating to beginners.
Here's another huge reason why you should get certified and make sure you learn a lot during the preparation process, rather than speed through it -- any decent marketing agency or department that you'd like to work for is going to test you on your understanding of terminology and pay-per-click reasoning during the application process. They're going to find out whether you really know what you're talking about.
Therefore, the knowledge that the exams offer does have some real-world value. That doesn't mean you have to be a total whiz. But you should understand most of the concepts tested.
Treat the Google Ads exam as an opportunity to learn rather than a task to check-off a list. Your mindset shift will make all the difference because you'll be learning from every question asked, while others rush through the exam just to finish it.
Topics and Exam Duration of the Google Ads Certifications
Google Ads Exam Topics
There are Google Ads certifications for different topics, including video, mobile, display, and shopping advertising. The most important version is the search advertising exam since that's the area marketers use most often on the platform. The second most applicable Google Ads test for marketers is likely Google Ads display certification.
Google Ads Certification Exam Duration
Each exam has a different time limit, but it's usually between 60 minutes and two hours. I've got a good sense for how long it actually takes since I've sat in a classroom with a dozen people taking the exam and have seen how quickly people finish. It usually takes 50–75% of the allotted time. A small percentage of people will use up to all the time if they're new or focused on learning from each question.
Google Ads Certification Badges
Once you've passed the exam, you get a certification badge that you can show off on your LinkedIn profile. Adding this badge to your profile adds credibility and makes your profile more search-engine friendly. As mentioned, recruiters look for this certification and care about it, so you'll be showing up more often when they search.
Google AdWords Certification Cost
The Google AdWords certification, now known as the Google Ads certification, is completely free to take. In the past it cost money, so if you're a marketer, it's a good idea to take it now, while it remains free. You never know when Google might change its pricing. You also get multiple attempts to take the exam.
Google Ads Certification Training
The training resources that Google offers are a handy starting point. You can learn a lot about the testing format, style of questions, and concepts that'll show up on the exam.
Additionally, one of the best ways to prepare for the exams is through YouTube tutorials, demonstrations, and tutorial articles. Most people are visual learners, and they will learn better when they see the platform itself with a video, rather than reading about it. That said, some blog posts have great screenshots throughout to help you better understand their tutorial.
It's important to note -- many of the resources online are overkill. It's easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed by the details. However, try to focus on learning the fundamental principles -- like what to tweak to make a big impact on performance.
If a tutorial article is 5,000 words long, then it's covering every detail of the platform, which is too much for the certification exam.
Additionally, the exams themselves can be training tools. If you don't pass the first time, you can learn from your incorrect answers and retake it. You can use your first attempt to get familiar with the format and duration. Reflect on why you got a question wrong so that you can remember the right answer for next time.
Some of the questions asked are recycled and randomized with different numbers. You can gain a lot of applicable math skills by learning the principles behind calculations. Unfortunately, many marketers skip learning from the exam itself and miss out on the bulk of where they can grow.
Take the exam with an attitude of learning, rather than completing.
Tips for When You're Taking the Exam
1. Take notes.
Have printed notes on hand that you can consult quickly whenever you forget minor details here and there (don't expect to rely on these for the entire exam, though). These notes are useful in case Google decides to implement restrictive browsing limits for exam takers in the future.
2. Plan for plenty of battery.
Make sure your computer is plugged in so it doesn't run out of battery life while you're taking the exam. This tip may seem obvious, but you don't want to find yourself in that painful situation.
3. Pace yourself, while answering.
Take your time with each question. Most people end up with extra time. Remember -- it's a marathon, not a sprint. You'll be answering multiple-choice questions for at least an hour.
4. Practice self-care, pre-test.
Hydrate. Get enough sleep. Some people overlook simple things, like making sure you have enough water and food before the exam, which can affect brain performance. Foods high in omega-3 are great for brain power.
Ultimately, getting a Google Ads certification is a worthwhile investment for your career growth. Digital marketing employers look for any valid evidence that you're above entry-level applicants.
5. Don't rush through without understanding the topics.
While it's possible to pass the exam without understanding many of the principles, you'll be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. Treat the exam as a learning process and an opportunity to shore up your knowledge and application of PPC terms and methodology because it'll help you during the job interview, and in your career.
You don't have to know everything about Google Ads since real-world experience can help you learn. But the knowledge you gain in preparing for this exam will give you a head start.