Last Updated on February 4, 2021
Let me give you the bad news first.
Getting a Google Ads Certification won’t make you a Google Ads expert.
Further, it’s unlikely you’ll get paid more because of the certificate, and it doesn’t prepare you to deal with actual challenges that a Google Ads manager faces.
But there are a few cases where it might be a good idea to get that certification.
So in this article, I’m going to show you what the certification is, when you should take it and also when you shouldn’t bother with it.
Let’s dive in!
What Is The Google Ads Certification?
The Google Ads Certification is a certificate provided by Google that you passed one of the Certification exams.
There actually isn’t a single Google Ads Certification you can earn, but there are six, one for every part of the Google Ads platform:
- Google Ads Search Certification
- Google Ads Video Certification
- Google Ads Display Certification
- Shopping Ads Certification
- Google Ads Apps Certification
- Google Ads – Measurement Certification
If you pass any of these exams, you’re officially “Google Ads Certified” 😊
From Google Adwords Certification To Skillshop
If it’s been a while since you took a certification exam, the program might look totally different.
In the early days, there was the Google Adwords Individual Certification and it actually cost $100 to take the exam (they dropped that fee a couple of years ago).
To become certified, you had to pass the Google Adwords Fundamentals exam, and one of the Advanced Adwords exams.
(When I took my first exam back, I remember printing out the whole training manual, a couple hundred pages and locking myself in a meeting room to study 🙂
And it paid off:
Once you were certified, you could apply to become a Google AdWords Certified Partner, which gave you some status as a Google recognized service provider.
In 2016, the certification program was rebranded as Google Academy for Ads. The focus moved from simply testing your knowledge of the Google Adwords platform, into teaching you the details through videos and articles.
Also around this time, the Google AdWords Certified Partner became the Google Partners program. The biggest difference there was that you didn’t just need to get a certification, but there were also additional requirements, like using new features and managing a minimum ad spend.
Today, the certification platform is called Skillshop. This is a training platform where you can learn and get certified for many Google products, not just Google Ads.
The Google Partners program is also undergoing an overhaul, which caused me to opt out of it.
Is the Google Ads Certification Worth The Hassle?
If you’re reading this post, there is a pretty good chance that you still want to get certified.
So I don’t want to rain on your parade, I will explain to you how to prepare and pass the Google Ads certification below.
But if you will allow me, I’d like to talk about the areas in which it is lacking.
Heavy on the WHAT, light on the WHY
With Store Growers, we sell Google Ads training and we often get the question why we’re competing against the FREE materials that Google is putting out.
Those are usually comments from people that haven’t worked with Google Ads before.
All the training materials that Google puts out are very focused on the features and functionalities. But they don’t really mention why you would use one feature over another.
Most of our students will attest that knowing which button to press isn’t sufficient.
To get good results, you need strategies and tactics that are missing from these certifications.
So if no one is asking for a certification, and you just want to get better at Google Ads for your own sake, you can skip getting certified!
Drink the Google Kool Aid
As part of its training materials, you’ll learn what Google wants to teach you about Google Ads.
There are many examples where Google is simply trying to promote its latest features.
Let me show you an example of what I mean.
The image below shows that study materials that are part of the Google Shopping certification:
Of these 7 subtopics, 3 are things you don’t really need to start out:
- Local product ads
- Showcase shopping ads
- Performance planner
When you’re teaching someone new the basics of Google Shopping, there are things that are way more important than that.
Like for example account structure, custom labels, tiered bidding. These tactics will actually move the needle, while the other can be a waste of time and money.
So if you do take the certification, be aware that everything you need to learn to pass doesn’t really prepare you for the real world.
For that you need people independent from Google that have the experience and have put in the work to see what actually works!
4 Reasons Why You Should Get Google Ads Certified
So with all the Google bashing, are there any reasons to actually get certified?
There are a few 🙂
Reason 1 – Required for your future job
For some jobs, having a certification is a requirement.
Sometimes it’s just to test a candidate’s willingness to jump through some hoops. Other times, it’s a requirement that was added to the job description by the HR department.
Reason 2 – Low bar to pass
Taking the Google Ads certification exam is free, and passing it isn’t very difficult (I’ll show you how to pass later in the article).
If you want to work with Google Ads and don’t have any experience or portfolio to show for, this is one of the easiest things you can do to show you’re serious.
I’m confident that it will get you a leg up on your competitors 🙂
Reason 3 – Get some experience
For many people new to Google Ads, getting experience often is a chicken and egg problem.
If you don’t have any experience, people won’t let you manage their campaigns. But without access to campaigns, you don’t really learn.
So going through the certification process will give you some situations you can learn from.
Although there are better places where you can see actual campaigns in action.
Reason 4 – Signal to Outsiders
To most people working in pay per click marketing, the Google Ads certificate doesn’t have a lot of value.
But to people outside the industry, claiming that you’ve been certified by Google about your skills and knowledge can be a quality signal.
While I don’t agree that a certification signals skills, I don’t want to discount the effect this can have on other people.
Google Ads Certification Requirements
Now let’s get into the actual exam details.
Here is what you have to do in order to get certified:
1 – Passing grade
In order to pass for a particular specification exam, you need to get 80% of the questions right.
Note: for the Apps Certification you only need 70%
2 – Number of questions
The number of questions for each exam varies, but it ranges from 46 to 50.
All questions are in multiple choice format.
3 – Maximum time
Once you start, you have 75 minutes to complete the exam. Beware that you can’t pause, so make sure you’ve got at least an hour to spare.
With 50 questions, you’ve got 1.5 minutes for each question.
That might seem fast, but some questions will be really easy, while others might require you to re-read the question and answers a few times.
Also beware that once you answer, you can’t go back to review.
4 – Validity
Once you obtain one of the Google Ads certifications, it is valid for one year.
After that, you need to retake it to remain certified.
7 Hacks To Get Google Ads Certified Quickly, Effortlessly
If you’ve been working with Google Ads for a while, you could probably pass the exam without studying.
But if you don’t have much hands-on experience, here are some tips to help you prepare.
Hack 1 – Fail Fast
This might seem like a strange one to start with, but it’s the one that affected me most.
When I first took the exam in 2012, I really took it seriously, reading and re-reading all of the study materials, looking at outside sources, making notes, etc.
I think I ended up with a score of 98 or 99%, just missing a single question.
That was great, but since I only needed 80% to pass, I probably wasted a lot of time on it.
So prepare well, but take the exam a little before you’re ready.
Should you fail (which I’m confident you won’t), you can always retake the exam a day later. Some questions will be the same and you’ll be more familiar with the exam.
A certificate is a certificate. (it doesn’t show how many attempts you needed).
Hack 2 – Study the materials inside Skillshop
I mentioned before that I think the materials inside Skillshop are lacking if you want to get actual results in Google Ads.
But they probably are the best ones to pass the exam 🙂
Img: study materials google ads certification
You’ll learn about the features Google is interested in, and which it will also ask you about on the actual exam.
The study materials are mostly texts and image based, with links to more resources to the Google Ads support docs.
Every section also has a mini quiz (Knowledge check), to see if you understood the subject:
Hack 3 – Focus
If you want to get certified, you have to pick one of the 6 certifications to go after.
Which one you pick is up to you. But it probably makes sense to pass the one which you’ve got some experience with or the one you’ll most likely use afterwards.
If you’re planning to work for a marketing agency, taking the Google Ads Search Certification is a good option.
If you’re going to work in a video production company, it probably makes sense to take Google Ads Video Certification.
While your intention might be to get certified for all different parts of Google Ads, remember that you only need 1 to get the Google Ads certification.
If you really want to get more, start with one and take the others later.
Or even better, get your certification and look at other sources to REALLY learn Google Ads 🙂
Hack 4 – Read carefully
The way the questions are worded might make you think back of those annoying exams you took at school.
They’re all multiple choice and there are many questions that are strangely formulated, seem very obvious at the first glance, or have the “all the above” options.
Let me give you an example:
Question: Google Ads is the perfect tool for …… (Select all that apply)
- Harry, who sells custom made candles in his online store
- Sally, who’s piano player looking for more gigs
- University of Canterbury, that wants to attract new students
- Bob, who needs to get rid of car wrecks in his salvage yard
- All of the above
My only advice here is to pay close attention to the wording of the actual questions, and try to think through the actual options.
And sometimes you just have to gamble. Remember you can afford to miss 10 questions out of 50 and still pass.
Hack 5 – Open Your Own Account
Most of the study materials are text based, which can make the whole studying process very theoretical.
To counter that, try and apply what you learn in your own Google Ads account.
It doesn’t cost anything to open one, and you can check out all parts of the platform. Create a new campaign, play around with the options, etc.
It will make the whole process a lot nice and help you to apply all the things you learn.
Hack 6 – Help out someone else
If you’ve opened your own account but you feel you’re still lacking practical experience, try getting your hands on a live account.
If you don’t have any money to spend, or a business to spend it on, find someone that does.
Ask around with the people you know. Who is running Google Ads campaigns? Could you have a look at their account?
Even if you don’t touch anything, seeing an actual account with actual data can make a huge difference in understanding how it all works.
And who knows, you might even spot some opportunities for them to improve their own account. That might lead to your first client 🙂
Alternative: Request access to the Google Analytics demo account. This account is an actual store (Google Merchandise store) run by Google with Google Ads campaigns pointing to it.
You won’t be able to see everything in Google Analytics, but you can get a little more familiar.
Note: the campaigns are completely mismanaged, so don’t pay too close attention.
Hack 7 – Cheat
The final way to pass the exam quickly and effortlessly is to cheat.
When you take the certification, it will open in one of your browser tabs, so you’re free to look at other resources to find the answers.
Which is a very common tactic.
Because I run a blog with a ton of content on every part of Google Ads, I see a lot of those searches come in:
I haven’t taken the Search Ads Certification in a while, but I would bet that the question above is someone copy/pasting an actual exam question.
The question of whether or not this is ok depends on your motivation for taking the exam.
If you want to actually learn something, copy/pasting all the questions into Google will result in very little learning.
But if you just want to have the certification, I think it’s fair game to Google the answers.
Google could easily think up ways to prevent people from browsing around while they’re taking the exam.
There are also a ton of websites out there with that source all of the Google Ads certification answers. Those wouldn’t exist if people wouldn’t be searching for these answers.
Passing The Google Ads Certification
When you think you’re ready, just click the blue button and go for it!
You’re Certified, Now What?
Now that you got your Google Ads Certification, you probably want to milk it for all you can. 😉
Apply for Google Partners
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe it’s a good idea anymore to be a Google Partner. A great alternative is the Clients First Club!
But that doesn’t mean you or your business have to opt out.
The certification is one of the requirements, so if you don’t have a problem with the requirements, go ahead and sign up for that.
Add to you resume
If you’re looking for a job, be sure to include your certification on your resume. Many job candidate system automatically scan resumes for keywords, so you want to make sure you’re checking that box!
If you have a personal website, or your business has one, you could mention that you’re certified.
If you get into the Google Partners program, you have a badge you could add.
You can add the Google Ads Certification to the Certifications section on LinkedIn. That way potential employers can see it, and it will pop up in searches:
Is Getting Certified A Good Idea?
I hope that this article gave you a better idea of the actual value of a Google Ads certification, and if you decide you need it, give you some ideas on how to get it.
Getting certified can be helpful in some situations, but it doesn’t make you proficient at Google Ads.
To accomplish that, you’ll need a lot more practical experience. And insights taught by professionals in the field.
But if you are getting serious about getting good at Google Ads, and would like to follow a proven process, I’d highly suggest checking out our premium courses.
We won’t teach you what Google wants you to know, we’ll teach you what you need to know. So rather than just teaching you what every button means, you’ll learn the actual strategies that get results today.