Posted: March 11, 2015
In today’s competitive higher education landscape, institutions are relying increasingly on search engine marketing to reach prospective students. While traditional advertising mediums still bring value, initial research conducted by prospective students is done largely online. Google AdWords can be a valuable service for higher ed marketers and is often a crucial element of our online advertising initiatives.
Many of us are familiar with Google AdWords, some may even understand how it works at a high level. But did you know that a significant amount of strategic thought goes into each campaign decision? I recently decided to pursue my AdWords Certification. In this blog, I will take you through my journey of obtaining the AdWords Certification and offer up some tips to help you pass the exam yourself.
What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords is an online advertising service that allows advertisers to reach users who are searching for their products. AdWords proves extremely useful as a pay-per-click service for advertisers looking to do anything from direct-to-consumer sales to lead generation. In theory, AdWords can appear to be a simple concept: create a campaign, adjust location targeting to reach your audience, set keyword bids and your ad will appear to users interested in your product. In reality, there is a lot of thought and strategy that goes into bidding techniques, targeting methods and keyword selection in Google AdWords.
Since joining the VisionPoint team, I have worked on various client projects that utilize AdWords to drive a specific conversion goal, whether that be lead generation or driving enrollment. While I participated in marketing reports and contributed to integrated marketing strategy and media planning, I felt I was only brushing the surface with my knowledge of pay-per-click campaign strategy. Unlike using an insertion order to advertise with a publisher, AdWords campaigns require continual oversight and management. Everything from the type of campaign (Search vs. Display), location targeting, keyword match types, ad text, to bidding strategy are controlled by the advertiser. This self-service style of advertising leaves a lot of responsibility to the advertiser, giving them them more flexibility to optimize toward the best possible results for the client.
Why I Chose to Become Adwords Certified
As I began delving deeper into online advertising, I was increasingly aware of how relevant and critical an understanding of Google AdWords is for integrated campaigns, as it is often a key component of many marketing plans. As a Project Manager, I am the primary point of contact to my clients, ensuring their goals are met and their project stays on strategy. The more conversations I was involved in about AdWords campaign strategy, the more pursuing the AdWords Certification proved to be a valuable decision for me. The certification would allow me to be directly involved in strategy decisions to optimize our client’s campaigns.
My experience in the AdWords interface with actually creating and tailoring campaigns was limited, so I spent as much time as I could reading through the Fundamentals and Advanced Search study guides and working in AdWords to apply these skills. Google provides comprehensive and easy to consume study materials that give you a solid handle on running an AdWords campaign(s).
After plenty of studying and two exams, I am proud to say I am officially AdWords certified. Moreover, I now can critically examine a client’s AdWords campaign and collaborate with our internal team to adjust strategies that best fit our client’s goals. Pursuing the certification was extremely rewarding, as I not only developed professionally, but I expanded my knowledge in an area that allows me to better serve our clients.
How to Prepare for Adwords Certification
If you’re thinking about getting your AdWords Certification, I highly recommend it. Not only will you become more familiar with Google Search and Display, you’ll gain a better understanding of online advertising as a whole. Below are my 6 tips to passing the exam:
- Read the study guides. The best place to learn about an online marketing service is from the company who makes it! Plus, the study materials are extremely relevant to the questions you’re tested on. Google wants you to succeed, so take advantage of that.
- Spend some time applying new knowledge in your AdWords account. While you are probably experienced running campaigns in AdWords, the exam covers every service AdWords offers. Familiarize yourself with functions you might not have used before (eCPC, AdWords API, etc.) to help with applied knowledge questions.
- Set aside plenty of time. Each exam is 1Â½ - 2 hours long and cannot be paused, so make sure you’re prepared to set aside that time. Grab a snack and find a comfortable spot.
- Utilize practice exams. Nothing helped more than taking practice exams in a similar format to the actual test. For anyone who has never taken an AdWords Certification exam, they will give you a better idea of what to expect. iPassExam is a great tool that gives you access to study guides and practice exams. For a free resource, Way to Exam provided relevant questions and proved to be a valuable study tool.
- Submit your final answer. Once you submit an answer you cannot go back and change it, so be sure you’re happy with your selection before you click âNextâ.
- Relax! If you’ve studied the material and have experience in AdWords you're more than equipped to take the test. Take a deep breath and you'll do great!
While an AdWords Certification may seem daunting, it is extremely beneficial for anyone looking expand their knowledge of search engine marketing. Even if you don’t use this tool every day, it’s a great resource to have and a nice bonus on your resume. If you’ve got questions about AdWords or the certification process, feel free to contact us.