Having just recently completed my latest exams to maintain my status as Google Certified Partner, I thought I should take a moment to explain what this means to clients and potential clients as it is a question I am often asked. Being a partner gives me access to immediate Google support to resolve complicated and frustrating client issues withing Google and also is a statement of a certain skill level and best practices followed within the industry.
When the concept of becoming a Google Certified Partner first came up, I was skeptical, because as an independent search engine marketing professional, I didn’t want to appear to be working for Google. I always want to have my clients best interests as my top priority. I originally avoided the designation because of this.
Let me first explain what being a Google Certified Partner means.
- You have to pass a number of tests showing your proficiency at Search Engine Marketing
- You have to manage a certain amount of client Adwords spend, showing you have familiarity with Google PPC
- You must achieve certain levels of best practices in keeping clients happy
I was easily able to reach qualifications #2 and #3 from doing a great job at what I do and was quite confident that I could pass any test that they provided, which I have done for several years now. The thing that worried me about the partnership was the thought that I would be looked at as “owned by Google” by either Google or my clients. It turns out that, to Google’s credit, they do offer to help you with Adwords management, etc, but they don’t force anything on you. They invite partners to webinars and seminars and agency days to try to help your business and spur you to get your clients to spend on Adwords. I only suggest my clients spend on Adwords if it is in their best interest, which it often is, but I don’t do it because Google wants me to. To be fair, though they have promotions to get new Adwords clients, etc. they do not pressure us to bring in new clients.
The other side of it was how clients looked at me. It turned out more people asked if I was a Certified Partner or wanted me to be a Certified Partner than looked at it as Google controlling me. I figured it couldn’t hurt to have the title as long as Google didn’t expect me to betray my ethics, which they do not do.
So to me the greatest benefit of being a Google Certified Partner is something I would not have expected but is a tremendous help. Google answers the phone when I call and it is an extremely valuable resource, especially with issues related to local search and client My Business pages. I can call Google and resolve complicated and confusing issues with a phone call or two that in the past I would have to continuously email and hope that someone would pay attention. I have had difficult issues resolve within a day that in the past took months. This is a value I am able to bring my clients on a regular basis or can even be hired simply on a one time basis to fix someone’s longstanding local issue.
Just so everyone knows, Google does not do SEO, so someone calling and telling you they are Google and want to help you with SEO is not telling the truth and you should run away. Some Certified Partners use this tactic, so you have to be very careful. If someone represents themselves this way, they are leading with dishonesty and I would recommend staying away from them. However, being a partner does have advantages, as I stated above, as long as you are honest about it.