What PPC Certifications Should Really Be Testing For

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

PPC Certifications have been a hot topic as of late. One of the most popular posts on PPC hero is about Google’s Fundamentals Exam.  I also receive a lot of questions about the best certification programs during webinars and at conferences.

(MarketMotive is the non-Google PPC Certification, ipassexam is a great one for preparing for Google Certifications and I liked the most and Simbound being a good way to get “real” world experience.)

The focus on PPC Certifications makes me a sad panda. It’s not that they aren’t valuable; they do prove a base knowledge of PPC. But these certifications, I believe, don’t go far enough when it comes to making sure someone is prepared to manage another person’s or company’s money. They also need to be rewritten every 3 months based on platform changes. (ahem, Enhanced Campaigns)

Instead of focusing so much on the mechanics these tests should focus on the “why.”  This is the #1 advice I give PPC newbies and yet the #2 hardest thing to teach (#1 is teaching people the right balance between being plugged in to their accounts in case something goes awry but also finding a way to recharge their batteries).

If I had my way, and I likely won’t, the below questions are what I’d ask on a PPC Certification test.


The Why Portion of the Test

1. Why would you increase bids by 20%?

2. Why would you increase bids by 5%?

3. Why would you bid down a keyword instead of pause it?

4. Why would you bid on a competitor’s branded keywords?

5. Why would you bid on your own brand keywords?

6. Why would you want to use click-assisted conversions to adjust bids?

7. Why would you NOT want to use click-assisted conversions to adjust bids?

8. Why does quality score matter?

9. Why would you want to ignore quality score?

10. Why would you add more keywords to an account?

11. Why would you test the Google Display Network?

12. Why would you test non-Google Display Networks?

13. Why would you restructure an account? (versus just optimize it)

14. Why would you focus heavily on ad testing?

15. Why would you ignore ad testing?

16. Why would being in an average position of 5 be better than 1?

17. Why would you add a negative keyword at the campaign level versus the ad group?

18. Why would you add a negative keyword to a list shared by campaigns versus adding it at the campaign level?

19. Why would you use shared budgets versus setting campaign level budgets?

20. Why would you rotate for clicks versus rotate evenly? (Ad settings)

21. Why would ad group level sitelinks be better than campaign level?



The What Portion of PPC Knowledge

1. What is a benefit statement?

2. What is a feature of a product or service?

3. What is the best landing page for site traffic?

4. What does ROI mean and how is it measured?

5. What type of Display targeting should you use, when?



The When Part of the PPC Certification

1. When do you use Analytics data to make decisions about keywords?

2. When should you focus on CRO instead of PPC optimization?

3. When should you verify if conversion tracking is/isn’t working?

4. When is it time to stop advertising on a search engine?

5. When is it time to conclude an ad test? (BE SPECIFIC)

6. When is it tie to conclude any type of test? (also, BE SPECIFIC)

7. When does it make sense to have one campaign for every match type?



The How-to’s

1. How do you check to see if your ad groups/campaigns are cannibalizing traffic from other ad groups/campaigns?

2. How do you find the ideal average position?

3. How do you determine if doing PPC on mobile devices makes sense for you?

4. How do you know if you are being to conservative/aggressive with the amount of keywords in your accounts?

5. If you were setting up a new account, how would you structure it and why?



Checking for Resourcefulness

1. Where do you find answers to questions regarding PPC?

2. Who in the industry can you learn from? (Specifically, meaning, whose email address/phone number/fax number do you have that you can pepper with questions?)

3. When do you know you need to ask for help versus trudging along on your own?


I’d love to hear you favorite PPC questions that aren’t tied to things like “where is location targeting set in the AdWords interface?”