Google AdWords and Bing Ads are very effective tools in achieving a number of business advertising goals, but marketers must first become proficient in how to properly use them in order to reap the benefits. Luckily, both Google and Bing offer free online training and certification programs for their respective advertising platforms.
- Review the Study Materials
Google AdWords has five exams to choose from: AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Video Advertising and Shopping Advertising. To become certified, you must earn a passing score of at least 80 percent on the AdWords Fundamentals exam and your choice of one of the other four tests.
The Bing Ads Accredited Professional program is similar to AdWords, but there is only a single, comprehensive exam available for certification that, unlike the AdWords exams, doesn’t have a time limit and can be paused.
In order to pass both programs, it is crucial to read all the available study guides carefully from cover to cover. Not only do these materials provide the answers to every question on the exams, but they also offer a good introduction to paid search by breaking down accounts, campaigns, ad groups, keyword match types, budgets, bidding and much more. Just studying the preparation materials is a great stepping stone to becoming a PPC expert.
- Hands-on Training is Always the Best
Once you’ve read the study guides, it’s time to dive into each of the advertising platforms and learn them inside and out. Navigate through every tab and understand how to effectively structure campaigns and utilize all the available tools such as the conversion optimizer, the keyword word planner, AdWords Application Programming Interface (API), the desktop editors, etc. The AdWords and Bing Ads interfaces are quite similar in layout and general structure; once you’re familiar with one, the other will not be difficult to grasp.
- Time Management and Attention to Detail Are the Keys
Now that you’ve read the prep materials and familiarized yourself with the interfaces, it’s time to take the exams and get certified.
My recommendation is to start with Bing Ads since the test doesn’t have a time limit and is slightly less difficult than the AdWords exams. Additionally, the Bing test will highlight areas you will need to improve upon for the more challenging AdWords exams that are limited to two hours and cannot be paused. Likewise, while the Bing test is pretty straight forward and clear cut, the AdWords exams feature a number of misleading questions with multiple answers that will seem correct. Manage your time wisely throughout the tests, but be sure to carefully read each question in its entirety along with all available answers.
- Try Again (if needed) and Always Continue Learning
These are difficult exams that are challenging to even the most experienced search marketers, so don’t worry if you don’t pass on your first try. Just go through the process again, focus on the areas you struggled with the most, and retake the tests until you’re certified.
Once you’ve passed the exams and receive your AdWords and Bing Ads certificates, they are valid for exactly one year. Continue learning on a daily basis to improve your search engine marketing skills and keep up with the frequent changes to be ready for when it’s time to re-certify.