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Google AdWords Exam Tips

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 24 Feb, 2014
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8 Tips for passing Google’s AdWords Exams

As Google continues to put a squeeze on traditional SEO techniques with its algorithm updates (more of which are certainly on the way in 2014), there’s been an increasing demand for pay-per-click services from clients who no longer feel they can compete or get the traffic they need in organic search.

This means that if you’re a digital marketer with good experience of using AdWords, now is a great time to get yourself accredited under Google’s AdWords certification programme. The programme consists of two exams, which, if passed, enable you to become a certified expert on AdWords PPC advertising.

Even if you’re not too bothered about the accreditation, I’d still encourage anyone who uses AdWords regularly to take the exams, that goes for both client-side and agency-side marketers.

What does the Google Adwords Exam cover?

The exams cover all aspects of AdWords, so in the course of revising and taking them, you’re likely to come across features and strategies you’ve not yet used (I certainly came away from my exams with a few new ideas to apply to my clients’ campaigns).

  • The first exam tests you on the fundamentals of advertising on AdWords, and features questions on both the search and display networks.
  • For the second, you can pick either network to take an advanced exam on. I chose to do the search network, as that’s the one I have most familiarity with (as is the case with the majority of AdWords users I expect).
  • Both exams are multiple choice, and you can choose from 4 possible answers for each question.

Exam tips for Google Adwords

I passed the exams last month, so thought I would share a few tips and observations that might help you if you want to take them yourself:

  • 1. Save yourself some time. You really don’t need to read all of the learning materials. Initially I was put off taking the exam by the vast amount of info Google gives you in the learning materials, which it recommends you read before taking the exams. If you’ve been using AdWords for a while you’ll be familiar with much of it already, so just focus on the stuff you’ve not come across before. No need to start on page one and read the whole thing unless you’re a complete newcomer.

I’d also highly recommend using the guides on the PPC Hero site when studying for your exams, as you’ll find much of the info you’ll need on there (often in a simpler, less long-winded form than Google’s own learning materials).

  • 2. Revise formulas and keyword match types. These are easy to learn and remember, so there’s no excuse for not getting full marks on these questions.

In my experience, the advanced search network exam also featured lots of questions on Conversion Optimiser and the AdWords API. If, like me, you haven’t used these features, I would definitely recommend reading up on them before you take the exam.

  • 3. Each exam is two hours long, and there’s no way to pause it once you’ve started, so make sure you use the toilet beforehand and have snacks ready, as you’re going to be sat there a while!
  • 4. Don’t rush. You do have time to look through notes and think things out. On previous versions of the exam, you could mark questions and come back to them at the end. This is no longer possible, so double-check your answers to be sure you’ve picked the right one.
  • 5. Beware trick questions. Many questions will have more than one answer that appears to make sense. Take your time, study the wording closely and choose the answer that seems most correct in the context of the question.
  • 6. Don’t worry if you fail. The exams used to cost $50 to take, but now they’re free. If you do fail, you’ll have to wait 7 days to re-take, so spend that time brushing up on the questions you found hard (unfortunately you don’t get a breakdown of which questions you got wrong).
  • 7. Take both exams back to back. A lot of the questions are very similar on the fundamentals and the advanced exams, so it’s probably worth doing them as close together as possible, while all your revision is in your head.
  • 8. Once you pass your exams, don’t worry if your agency doesn’t get its partner status straight away. It can take a few days to go through. Your agency will still need to satisfy Google’s other criteria on minimum spend requirements and client care to qualify as a partner.

What to do next after your AdWords exams?

If you’ve passed the AdWords exams and you’d like to get further qualifications to prove your worth as an online marketer, then there is also the Bing Ads Accredited Professional program, which offers certification equivalent to the AdWords exams, but for the Bing Ad Network. There are also the heavyweight digital marketing qualifications from established providers like CIM, IDM and Manchester Metropolitation or Google's own Google Squared qualification.

Alternatively, there’s the Google Analytics exam, which is by all accounts significantly harder than the AdWords ones. Best of luck, guys!

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