Having a certification in a topic is a great way to show proof of your knowledge and experience in the subject. There is a long list of certifications. Some people get certified in typing, digital art software, mechanical fields and even in medicine. In areas like education, a certification is an indicator that you are capable of teaching others about a specific topic. You can find certification programs in many common places. It just depends on what your goal is for the knowledge and how much you’re willing to invest. For example, many people have heard of Google. But while it’s known to many people as a source of finding answers, Google also offers certificates.
There are different types and levels of certifications offered that cover business, education and web development. One type of Google certification is a professional accreditation for the Google AdWords business-focused advertisement service. AdWords helps businesses generate ad revenue based on consumer interests. It is also the required program for those wanting to share their content and also use the ads featured on Google and its associated networks. The algorithms used helped create personalized ads depending on what a viewer has clicked. Your certificates will be displayed and linked to your Google+ account, so it’s best to have one unified profile for your business.
The benefits of becoming Google certified are a noticeable return on investment, marketing to broader but targeted audiences and, rather importantly, only require payment once a web user has clicked the ads. But knowing the inner workings of Google AdWords is only part of the certification process. Learning these tools and how to utilize AdWords will help push your business toward improvement. Outside of the business realm, Google certificates promote growth and development. With proper motivation and commitment, you too can become Google certified.
The process of becoming Google certified is outlined, and results are available with a quick search. After a slight remodeling, Google now offers 3 types of test for a flat rate of $10. The tests are timed, and failing puts a waiting period on your account before you can try to retake them. Now headlined Google Partners, the three main areas of examination are Advanced Search, Advanced Display, and Advertising Fundamentals. There are other examinations for shopping, video and mobile advertising. Fundamentals are mandatory for certification while you can decide on the other area, as passing two will get your certification.
Passing enables two things—you can highlight your achievement to web users via a shareable link, and you can also print a hardcopy of your achievement. Before jumping into the exams, however, Google recommends completing the fundamentals course. This course is designed to give you a back-to-basics approach that will educate you on terms and the general overview of how AdWords operates. Following the completion of the course, there is a practice section to unlock before you can take the certification exams.
The most popular of Google certifications is the one for the individual. It is also the easiest to obtain. There are conditions to be met before you can apply for this certification. To meet the individual certification criteria you must:
Have an active AdWords account for 3 months that you manage with my client center (MCC)
Have a spend total of at least $1000 (in either US or local currency) for 90 days
Accept the rules and terms of service for using AdWords
And, of course, pass the exam (timed at 90 minutes and requiring 75% accuracy to succeed).
You can take the exam multiple times. Each time costs, however, so studying and becoming comfortable with the lessons beforehand will save both time and money.
Even if you feel like your years of experience make you aware of topics like banner ads, content networks and affiliate advertising, AdWords also covers topics central to successful businesses—like managing invoices. You want to be truly comfortable at all levels of the program. It should be noted that while there is a separate business certification available, you do not necessarily need to be affiliated with any business in order to take these exams. The individual exams are geared toward single, likely small business owners who want to get the most out of the digital marketplace.
If you are an established company with more than a sole employee/proprietor, you can choose a Google business certification. The steps are very similar to those of the individual certification. For this option, you need the following:
Employ at least two individuals, who must also pass the exams and are Google qualified
Have a physical mailing address in one of the designated countries
And meet the minimum spend requirement for your business’ country over a 90 day period
For the US and UK, for example, that spend in the MCC is $100,000. Because the required spend amount for a company certification is so much larger than an individual, this might slow your progress.
It should also be noted that this level must be maintained over any 90 day period and not just the time prior to taking the exams, which can be difficult with the ebb and flow of clients and profits. Businesses that are timed with end of summer sales, back to school events or other seasonal events might find it difficult to keep up that requirement. But this hurdle can be overcome and there are tips in the study guides to help you do so. Once certified, as either a business or individual, Google provides you with a unique page, hosted by Google, which displays your professional status and badges.
Unlike the other AdWords certifications, consultant certifications are not seen as often. A Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC) certification is not gained by a standard exam like the individual or business certifications. There is more required in terms of actual, personal contact with Google in order to gain and maintain the certification. Among the requirements, you must send a statement of intent explaining your strengths and reasons why you should be an authorized consultant. Within that document, the following information must be made clear:
1-3 verified successfully completed Google analytic projects from different clients (whom Google uses as references and as proof of your ability to customize content)
A track record of consistent and expertly developed blogs or speaking engagements
A minimum of two employees who have passed the Google trainer courses
Evidence of your offering a variety of individual analytics services that include: consulting, training, implementation and configuration
This is just some of the initial criteria. Following successful certification, there are two other vital components to maintaining this status. At the end of each business quarter, a detailed report summarizing your work and results, including the names of your clients, must be submitted. You must pay for one of your employees to attend the GAAC summit hosted annually in California. It is a taxing process that requires vigilant upkeep. Privacy may also be an obstacle as you will have to share client names and other business details with Google while using non-disclosure agreements. However, the benefits of choosing this certification are many. For one thing, you will be featured as a choice on the Google Analytics Partners page.
You can network through invite-only summits at Google headquarters. The Google sales team can make referrals that drive business to you. You get to interact with other GAACs and share ideas and innovations, as well as hearing what options to skip. Troubleshooting is a given in any business, digital or otherwise. Having the backing of a Google consultant certification gives you better technical support from the Google Analytics team. While it might seem daunting at first to achieve, the rewards are there.
One of the falsehoods some SEO (search engine optimization) companies claim is being backed by Google. However, without the badge displayed, the printable certificate or professional web page, that cannot be verified. The Google Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant (WOAC) is designed to highlight your skills as a website optimizer while also building on the strength of Google backing. Authorization requires that you send an email that addresses all of Google’s requirements and how you meet or exceed them. It is quite a similar process to the analytics consultant certification, but there are differences. Google requires:
Evidence of strong white papers or blogs
The designing and implementation of at least 3 uniquely created website optimizer projects for 3 different clients whom are open to being contacted
Screenshots of current in-progress optimization tests
Additionally, you will be required to spend a few days attending Google Website Optimizer training summit, enroll in courses and pass them. You must also be able to show stand-alone services that cover multiple facets of optimization from base consultation to startup to training. One of the requirements is to also dedicate time to launching at least three different website optimization experiments in each quarter, in addition to other client work.
If you choose this route, you will be part of a small and specialized group of companies. There are less than 50 Authorized Website Optimizer Consultants being listed so there is a high chance of your company being sought out for business. Your information will be displayed on the Website Optimizer Partners’ page and along with enhanced technical support; you will also receive co-marketing and networking opportunities to further push your company to the top.
If you want proof that you’re a pro at Google but use it less for the behind-the-scenes data science aspects and more for the real-world application, there are also educator certificates. The Google for Education team offers three different certification levels that are meant to help improve classroom education and professional development for a variety of users. The three tiers are:
Google Certified Educator (Level 1, Level 2)
Google for Education Certified Trainer
Google for Education Certified Innovator
While all based on education and knowledge sharing, each level has its own concentration. The certification for educator is a demonstration of being well-versed in Google tools in an educational setting. There are two levels. Level 1 focuses on the implementation of G Suite for Education in actual teaching lessons and student learning. Level 2 reflects a mastery of level one and the addition of more advanced educational tools that can amplify their teaching style and promote better learning. Once you’ve passed the exams, your certification is valid for three years from your test date.
The Google for Education Certified Trainer certificate is for those who are more interested in refining actual teaching methods than being educators themselves—though they might also be teachers. These are people who study different teaching methods, experiment with how to present information clearly and also try to find new ways to bring in advancing technology into the classroom. This certificate is not strictly designed for those who have a background or interest in technology and can be attained by teachers or even future consultants.
Finally, there is the Google for Education Certified Innovator. Every few months, the tools we use to share information change. Our mobile devices become smaller or louder but overall, much more powerful than their predecessors. The innovator certificate is for those who are not worried about getting the most use of current technology but those who are already looking ahead to the next step. These innovators push themselves, the technology and their students so that they can anticipate future demands while capitalizing on present methods.
There is also an additional innovator’s project. In this project, the Certified Innovator works alongside other innovators (and Google) to fulfill the creation and implementation of cutting-edge educational projects. Collaboration is welcomed, and the main goal is the creation of something that will have a meaningful impact on both students and educators in the classroom. The Google Certified Educator exams are fairly self-contained, and you only need to successfully pass level one to gain access to level two. The Certified Trainer and Innovator certificates, however, require an additional application in which to learn the materials and take the exams.
Even if you are interested in multiple certifications, you only need one Google account to gain them. Regardless of which one you choose, there is a requirement for you to sign and agree to an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). This is more for the protection of Google content than anything else as it ensures the integrity of the programs and maintains the credibility of the certificates. An interesting feature for the educator certificates at levels 1 and 2 is that you will be required to take exams with the use of a webcam. The images are meant to serve as test-taker verification, and none of the images are saved.
Because certifications are fairly easy to manufacture without being vetted for accuracy or legitimacy, having a Google certification helps establish you (and your business) as genuine. There are some who claim to have an SEO certification from Google. Google does not offer SEO certifications. Rather than display false claims that appeal to being authorized (i.e., Google-approved SEO), you can instead display accurate and honest certifications. Misusing the Google brand and logos can also be grounds for legal action. The Google name, being some commonly recognized, is a great addition to your arsenal and can help make your pitches stronger and generate more business, in leads and sales.
Having a Google certification badge prominently displayed on your site will definitely appeal to customers or students, and very likely, their parents. Your customers and students will know that you have invested your own time and resources into being a legitimized business. Once you have passed the necessary tests, you can proudly show off your PPC expertise, education, innovation methods and business modeling skills. Understandably, one certification won’t guarantee that you’re an expert but you will have the foundation skills to deal with basic problems. Some of the certifications are not permanent, however, and you will need to seek recertification once the designated period of time has passed.
As Google improves its technology and releases new products, you will also need to upgrade your knowledge and recertify accordingly. Choosing not to would count as a breach of Google policy, and you would be unable to display any badges or branding. Barring any breach of conduct, ethical or otherwise, having a Google certification will help you earn money from your business without any real additional effort. The certification allows you access to a wide variety of platforms and audiences, all of whom use Google. The range covered by Google certificates encompasses business models, educational development and web interfacing and optimization. This means that those holding these certificates have the potential to create significant changes in their respective fields.
The certification programs are not merely for showcasing an achievement. The programs impart lasting knowledge on the candidates. Having a Google certification is a faster way to communicate your skills and also exemplify your commitment to training and bettering yourself.
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