It had been about two years since I achieved the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) and Google Adwords certification. The Adwords certification requires retaking the two exams every 12 months, whilst the IQ expires after 18 months so both my qualifications had lapsed. I simply had other priorities last year, such as completing my Open University degree, but it had always been my intention to retake the exams.
There seems to be a split in opinion as to whether it is worth achieving qualifications like these. They are sometimes perceived to be too easy to achieve or that they imply a greater level of expertise than they really demonstrate. I think those arguments gloss over the many benefits that certification brings to an individual and their employer.
- A product like Google Analytics is pretty big and complex. Many users will only use a subset of it and possibly not that frequently. Anything that helps you understand its potential and learn about aspects you were not previously aware of has to be a good thing.
- Adwords and Google Analytics are actively developed. New features are introduced, old ones dropped. We can’t all keep up with every digital marketing change all of the time so delving into the official Google guides during the revision process helps to keep your knowledge up-to-date.
- Achieving certification doesn’t make you a guru. However it does demonstrate to your clients and employer a certain level of competency, dedication and interest. If it gives you, and them, confidence in your abilities and makes you stand out from the crowd then that is a positive thing. If it was that easy to achieve then everyone would have the qualifications!
- If you understand Google Analytics then you can apply your knowledge to other analytic packages. If you understand Adwords then you can quickly pick up other forms of digital advertising and PPC solutions. The skills are transferable – you might use GA for monitoring your web site but you’ll find it is useful in other areas such as SEO and the process might open your eyes to other skills.
My main motivation for retaking the exams was to brush up on my knowledge. The actual learning experience is more valuable than having the qualification. I recall having to pay for two Adword exams and the one Analytic exam two years ago, however I didn’t have to pay for either this time. This addresses many peoples’ complaints, which is the qualifications were a money making exercise for Google. I did wonder if by removing the cost, it would potentially mean less dedicated individuals would take the exams, devaluing the worth of the qualifications.
I don’t think this is the case though, as I found the Google Analytics exam more difficult than I remembered. There are still questions in both exams that are straightforward and easy but there are also plenty that can trip you up if you have not read the Google guides and are not familiar with the topics.
I spent a hour or two each evening for a week preparing for each exam and that gave me the knowledge to pass them all on the first attempt. Of the three exams, the Adwords Fundamentals is the most straightforward and the GA the most challenging. To achieve Adwords certification you will need to take a second exam. I chose Search Advertising which, whilst covering some of the same content as the Fundamentals, is the most relevant to the work I am doing right now.
Having now achieved certification in Adwords, Analytics and Bing Ads, I feel the effort was worth it to keep my skills refreshed and up-to-date.