The first step towards becoming a true master of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) with Google AdWords is studying for, and passing, the Fundamentals exam and at least one Advanced exam.
If you’re reading this then it should be safe to assume you are already familiar with SEM and specifically Pay Per Click (PPC).
To qualify for the exams all you need is a Google account, which you most likely already have, and sign up for Google Partners. It may be prudent to create a new account exclusively for Google Adwords so as to maintain a professional online persona, as well as keep private life separate from business.
All three exams are multiple choice based and have a time limit. Taking the exams used to entail a nominal fee, but that has been waived to ostensibly encourage more people to get qualified. Questions are asked in succession, with no option to change your answers that you have already submitted. The entire examination is encapsulated in a single online session but you are not prevented from accessing other online content during this period. It is suggested to rather focus on studying thoroughly rather than depending on on-the-fly research, especially since a significant portion of the content tests insight as opposed to simple retention.
The Fundamentals exam preparation content is a good guide on learning how to manage an AdWords account in addition to understanding AdWords itself. This isn’t so by accident. Almost everything from the second section onwards is focussed on campaign management.
As for the Advanced exams, Advanced Search is by far the more enriching option. Despite being billed exclusively for the Search Network it covers content very important to any would be Search Engine Marketer whereas Advanced Display is more niche.
Bear in mind that there is a 7 day restriction on re-taking an examination should you not meet its passing requirements. Besides that however there is no other consequence to failing an exam. There is nothing preventing you from creating a spare Google Account to explore the examinations and getting familiar with the testing environment, but it goes without saying sticking to just studying well instead is the recommended course of action.
Preparation for each examinations may take anything from one to three weeks depending on the amount of time available to study and learner competency.
More information about the Google AdWords exams are available here:
Sign up for Google Partners here: