A few weeks ago, Google finally announced the release of its new rigorous certification program through various emails and this blog post. My response to this? It’s about time.
There are too many individuals and some agencies out there that simply pass the old basic AdWords certification test and think they can perform wonders on any PPC account. Well guess what, it takes more than just passing a basic test to have a firm grasp on the ins and outs of an AdWords account and more so strategizing towards improving performance based off of data from the account in question. Am I saying I’m all-knowing when it comes to PPC? Absolutely not and I don’t think I will ever be able to say that because of the ever changing facets and game that is PPC.
Getting back to this new certification program, Google has gone a few steps further in letting potential advertisers know about the potential quality of those individuals and agencies they are looking to for possible AdWords management and assistance. Individuals and agencies can still be AdWords qualified, but through some advanced exams those individuals and more specifically agencies can become AdWords Certified Partners.
What is an AdWords Certified Partner?
Only companies/agencies can achieve the status of AdWords Certified Partners at this point in time, whereas specific people can become Individually Qualified. It is important to note that agencies need Individually Qualified employees in order to become Certified Partners.
In essence, becoming an AdWords Certified Partner demonstrates to businesses looking for SEM/PPC help that you are very knowledgeable about AdWords management and have passed what has now become more rigorous testing from Google which in turn should produce more qualified PPC managers and agencies. There are several benefits to becoming an AdWords Certified Partner too.
- The individual or company can setup a Professional Profile page that can be accessed by possible businesses searching on the “newly” released Google Partner Search page. I say “newly” because this feature has been out for some time just not as accessible as it is now to the general public.
- A new unique badge to display on your website and marketing materials that separates your company from other agencies and individuals that have only passed the fundamental AdWords exam and are displaying the older AdWords Qualified Company badge.
- Qualified members receive AdWords promotional coupons worth $100 each that can be used only for new accounts. Although it’s fairly small, these promotional coupons can provide incentive to some smaller businesses that may be hesitant to begin advertising via AdWords.
- The ability to apply for preferred pricing on AdWords API costs on this website.
- For Individually Qualifed people, a nice little printable certificate that you can proudly frame, put on your desk, and point to whenever someone questions your common sense or IQ. The perfect tool for those funny and friendly office jokes and arguments.
How do I become an AdWords Certified Partner?
The requirements for becoming an AdWords Certified Partner are fairly simple and straightforward. The company must have:
- A billing and mailing address in countries where qualification is available.
- Have a managed spend of at least $10,000 over 90 days. If you have a couple accounts in your MCC, this is usually not a problem.
- Have at least 1 Individually Qualified employee which I’ll get into in a second.
- Agree to the terms and conditions of the program.
If your company meets these requirements, your new shiny badge will be available for you to proudly display.
How do I become an AdWords Qualified Individual?
Just like the requirements for becoming an AdWords Certified Partner, meeting the criteria for becoming a Qualified Individual is even simpler. To become a Qualified Individual the person must do the following:
- Pass the AdWords Fundamental Exam.
- Pass at least one of the available advanced exams which include:
- Search Advertising Advanced
- Display Advertising
- Reporting & Analysis Advanced
- Agree to the terms and conditions of the program.
Meet these requirements and you’ll get the previously mentioned certificate and a sense of pride that allows you to puff your chest out.
A Small Secret
I must confess that I have a little secret to tell… I participated in the beta testing for a fair portion of these new tests. Due to confidentiality, I could not say this prior to the unveiling of the new program and even now I probably need to be careful in what I talk about regarding these tests. Regardless, the initial round of tests I took consisted of more questions than what is currently being utilized in the available exams while also including a slightly larger range of topics. This is sort of expected though considering that in order to test the test, a larger sampling of possible questions and material needs to be covered.
What made this initial testing slightly more difficult? The fact that one of the beta rounds required an entire day of testing due to covering multiple tests. I can handle a PPC overload and don’t mind taking tests, but when you’re trying to comprehend the ins and outs of AdWords for about 6 or 7 hours it can get tiring. All of that aside, the people of Google’s New York City headquarters (where I went for the betas) were simply awesome in not only helpfulness and communication but also just socializing. Comfort can definitely go a long way when it comes to successful testing and Google did a fabulous job without a doubt.
Guess what PPC’ers, if you want to show potential and current clients how knowledgeable you are in comparison to the rest of the PPC world, one of these new badges can go a long way in displaying that to people. For the PPC industry, the quote should probably be changed to:
“Badges? How do I get me one of those stinkin’ Google badges!”