I recently finished my now annual exams to qualify as a Google Certified Partner, and it always brings to mind the question many ask or want to ask about what that means and why it is important. The short answer is it doesn’t mean all that much and it isn’t overly important. However, the title does come with some recognition and often people ask about it even if they don’t fully understand what it is. I thought I would let you have a glimpse behind the curtain to see what it is from the provider side. I wanted to let you know what it means in real life application.
Certified Partner Has Closer Connection with Google
This can be good and bad. Obviously, I find the positives to outweigh the negatives, or I wouldn’t continue to take the exams each year.
- More Contact with Google
- POSITIVE – You can call Google support and get more priority to have action taken on specific issues you may have. Though the level of support fluctuates, somewhat depending on who answers the phone, and somewhat depending on the constantly changing policies, it is better to have that line open than not. This is the primary reason I maintain the title, though in recent months they have been far less helpful than in the past. They can sometimes get Google My Business page issues resolved over the phone, and these issues happen quite often.
- NEGATIVE – You have a Google rep and they call you regularly. They often call and tell you what time you should be available to have them call back, without asking if you are actually available. Most of their contact is to try to encourage you to sell more Adwords. Of course, that is their primary motive. If you know what you are doing and actually have these calls with them, they are not very helpful. They tell you very basic ways you can improve client Adwords performance. They don’t really consider your relationship with a client and often want to enact changes without you communicating with your client. I always suggest updates to clients and explain them before making any changes, to make sure they mesh with their business goals and not Googles’.
What Makes a Person a Certified Partner?
Managing Adwords Spend – For the most part, the first level of being a partner is you need to manage a certain amount of dollars of Adwords spend across your clients to be important enough for Google to even give you the option. This means you have to have them set up in your specific account and clients that you don’t have in your management account don’t count toward this threshold. Inside this, they will assign specific Adwords account reps to clients of yours that spend certain levels. They will send you reports and suggestions on ways these clients can spend more money. I don’t find these particularly useful. Being someone who manages a lot of clients with offline conversions and smaller budgets, we need to focus on tightly controlling ad spend to avoid leaks, rather than throwing more money at issues.
Quality Standards – There are some mysterious quality standards that your Adwords accounts must live up to. In your partnership account, it shows whether your accounts are still over this level that you must maintain in order to keep your qualifications. Now I have clients that I manage that only pay me to take a look once every 6 months or every year because they don’t have huge budgets. I don’t recommend this because you can get behind and become inefficient, but that is the nature of what we do, so when they get behind, I am sure they have lower quality, but I always manage to maintain my account above this mysterious level.
Certification Exams – There was a time when you had to pass the exams every other year. There are a number of different exams you can choose from, but you have to pass the Adwords fundamentals exam and another exam each year. The exams are typically 80 to 100 questions and are timed. I don’t typically have to study to pass because I do this every day, but they do take time out of your schedule and there are some weird questions on there based on marketing survey statistics, etc. that you may not know if you didn’t read the article they are referring to. In general, if you are regularly working with Adwords accounts, you can pass this.
Why It Shouldn’t Be Your Main Criteria for Getting Help
Though being a partner shows a certain level of understanding of what Adwords does for you, it is more from the perspective of Google, who takes your money. I think it shows a certain level of commitment to your craft, and as I mentioned before, it can get you to the front of the line for help in local issues, but there are a lot of creeps out there that get the certification and mismanage peoples money and accounts. I have been brought in on a number of occasions to clean up campaigns that were said to be set up by a Google partner, that were set up horribly. These could be people that are not honest about their qualifications and just say they are partners, or they could be true partners that just have no real world skills. It takes a human that understands business goals.
Unfortunately, though it can be something to help you narrow down your search for help, you should always ask for references and clients that have actually had good experiences with your search engine marketing consultant or Adwords manager. Don’t hire someone just because they are a Google Partner. It takes more than that.