6 Ways to Learn AdWords Without Getting Certified


I have a confession.

When I first started writing for WordStream, I didn’t know the first thing about AdWords. I was familiar with a handful of online advertising terms – I knew what pay-per-click ads were – but beyond that, I had no idea. I didn’t know what cost-per-conversion meant. I didn’t know what negative keywords were. I didn’t know the difference between an ad campaign and an ad group.

I literally found learning Japanese less intimidating than learning AdWords.

Ways to learn AdWords without getting certified

Although I haven’t kept up with my study of Japanese, I have learned a great deal about AdWords, all without going through the certification process.

Depending on who you ask (or what you do for a living), passing the Google AdWords exam is either absolutely vital or completely unnecessary. Either way, knowing your way around AdWords can be highly beneficial, even if you don’t go through with getting certified.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get to grips with AdWords. In today’s post, I’ll outline six of them. Some of these resources focus primarily on the basics, whereas others deal with a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced topics, so there’s something for everyone.

1. Google’s Essential AdWords Courses

It should come as little surprise that Google’s learning resources on AdWords are among the best out there. Covering a wide range of topics and offering lessons based on three tiers of experience, the Essential AdWords Courses should be the first destination on any paid search novice’s path to mastery.

Ways to leartn AdWords without getting certified Google Essentials course

These courses are an excellent primer for the beginner, but those with at least some AdWords experience may find them more useful as a refresher before moving on to more in-depth material. If you’d rather take a more self-directed path, you can browse lessons and tutorials by topic in the AdWords Learning Center.

2. WordStream’s PPC University

Once you’ve devoured the official Google learning resources, check out WordStream’s very own PPC University.

Ways to learn AdWords without getting certified WordStream PPC U

Even if you’ve gone through Google’s Digital Marketing 101 and 102 courses, PPC 101 is still worth checking out. Here you’ll find lessons on core PPC concepts such as click-through rate, cost-per-action, and conversion rate optimization, as well as in-depth guides on ad text, Quality Score, and account structure.

The PPC 102 and Advanced PPC tracks cover a wide range of topics you’ll need to understand to become a paid search professional. In PPC 102, you’ll learn about negative keywords and keyword match types, how to optimize ad text and make use of extensions, landing page optimization, and the importance of A/B testing, among other topics. If you’re a seasoned AdWords veteran, check out the more advanced guides on Call Tracking, PPC for lead generation, dayparting, and mobile PPC in the Advanced Track. You’ll also find recordings of previous webinars and our “Ask the Experts” video series here.

3. Udemy’s Google AdWords for Beginners

Udemy is one of the best online learning resources out there, and its Google AdWords for Beginners course is certainly one of the most comprehensive.Ways to learn AdWords without getting certified Udemy courses

Offering four hours of video instruction spanning 44 topics, Google AdWords for Beginners is a thorough introduction to the AdWords platform. It isn’t free, but for learners who want to really sink their teeth into a meatier resource, it’s hard to beat.

One of the major benefits of this course is the inclusion of screencast walkthroughs of a live, active AdWords account. The disconnect between theory and practice is one of the biggest obstacles for beginners to overcome, making this a great addition to an already comprehensive introduction.

4. The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, Fourth Edition

For our fourth resource, we’re going to go offline for a while, pick up an actual book, and read words printed on a page. Radical!

Renowned AdWords expert Perry Marshall’s landmark book, The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (4th Edition), is essential reading for AdWords newcomers. You won’t find a lot of detailed walkthroughs of specific features or (many) screenshots of the AdWords interface, but you will find a wealth of strategies and techniques behind successful advertising campaigns. Perry explains the principles behind the advertising part of AdWords, how to think like a successful advertiser, and the marketing techniques that can take your AdWords campaigns from “good” to “great.”

If the resources above are the how, think of this book as the why.

5. Lynda.com’s Google AdWords Essential Training

I’m a big fan of Lynda.com’s video tutorials, and this course is no exception.

Ways to learn AdWords without getting certified Lynda.com training

Aimed primarily at beginners, Lynda.com’s Google AdWords Essential Training is precisely that – a step-by-step guide on how to get started with AdWords from beginning to end. Spanning more than three hours of video instruction, this series (like all Lynda titles) is broken into short, easily manageable videos, meaning you don’t have to sit for hours at a time to get what you need out of each lesson.

In addition to the very basics, such as setting up an AdWords account and using the Keyword Planner for keyword research, this course also includes some nice bonus lessons on slightly more advanced topics such as A/B testing, remarketing campaigns, and getting started with video ads.

6. Certified Knowledge’s AdWords Lessons

Few people know PPC as well as Brad Geddes, once of the paid search world’s most highly sought consultants and speakers. Brad’s company, Certified Knowledge, offers a remarkably in-depth AdWords training program that anyone who’s serious about the AdWords mastery will want to check out.

Ways to learn AdWords without getting certified Certified Knowledge

Offering more than 150 video tutorials, these training resources are among the most comprehensive of any provider out there. Although the Fundamentals and Introduction to AdWords lessons are worth looking at, it’s the Intermediate and Advanced tutorials that really shine. Once you’ve gotten a little experience under your belt, dive into these courses to learn everything from advanced bidding strategies and location targeting to AdWords reporting functionality and even Display Network campaigns.

As Certified Knowledge is an official Google-authorized training provider, you can rest easy in the knowledge that these video tutorials are of a very high quality. They may not be free (see this page for pricing), but for serious AdWords practitioners and committed learners, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Still Stuck? Ask the Experts!

These resources should be more than enough to get you started on your AdWords journey. However, it’s virtually impossible for any site to preemptively answer all your questions, which is why WordStream launched the “Ask the Experts” video series.

These videos answer questions we receive from our readers and social followers. Each episode tackles a different question, and includes actionable tips, real examples, and strategies that our PPC experts and clients have found very successful.

To ask your own question, simply tweet at the WordStream handle @WordStream and use the hashtag #asktheexperts. Alternatively, you can tweet at Erin Sagin and Margot da Cunha, our two presenters, at @ErinSagin or @ChappyMargot – they’re always happy to answer any questions about AdWords.

How did you learn AdWords? Did you bother to get certified once you figured out the platform? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

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Jun 23, 2015

Good resources to check out

Dec 14, 2015

I will be starting google ad words course.But the problem here is am not getting which one should i learn first. Google Ad words or Google Analytics?

Jun 07, 2016

It depends on your goal.
If you want to start advertising right away or manage your own or your client's account then learn AdWords first.
If you are not familiar with analytics still you can operate almost all of the AdWords functions.
Let me know if you have any other query reagrding AdWords and Analytics

Jun 15, 2016

Hi, good morning please help me how to learn PPC? online or taking help institute. If you have any resources/guide to learn ownself please share with me.

Mary Lister
Jun 16, 2016

Hi Vinod,
We have a few resources on the blog, but here is a list as well: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/06/02/adwords-tutorials-for-beginners

Hope that helps!

Jul 20, 2016

Hi there, please could you tell me how well one needs to know Excel in order to pursue a career in Paid Search? I am aware that it's a crucial tool for analysing the results, but is it enough to have basic knowledge of Excel, or does one have to be advanced?

Thanks so much for your advice.


Niranjan Ramamurthy
Sep 05, 2016

Hey Aurelia,

As a paid search professional with a decade's experience, I've found Excel to be my best friend. It can help you create and manage a campaign more efficiently, rather than just being a tool to analyse results.

1) Starting with Keyword research, you can combine tokens to mine specific long-tailed terms off a website. I've found Excel to be a vital tool to select about a 100 from a list of 1000 terms. Learning keyboard shortcuts can be fun and saves more time.
2) Next, use Excel's filters to categorise your Keywords into tight Ad Groups. Insert rows for your Ad Text. Use functions to check the length, and see the entire campaign at one glance.
3) Import this Excel file into the AdWords (or Bing Ads) Editor, and upload. Export from the Editor to Excel, to format and present it beautifully to a client.
4) You'll need Excel for ongoing management - Search Query based Keyword (and Negative) expansions, bid optimisations, Text Ad rewrites, Extensions and more.
5) You can upload in Google drive and share with clients, whether or not they use Excel.
- Premier accounts (top spenders who have millions of Keywords) can be managed more easily with Excel.
- I use Excel 2016 for Mac. While I miss my favourite shortcut keys (in Windows), they keep improving their product regularly.
I"m an ex-employee of Yahoo! and currently run an AdWords agency. Without Excel and the Editors, I can't imagine a work day. I would suggest you keep learning Excel as much as you can each day. Hope this helped. All the best!

Mar 25, 2017

Hey Dan - Great post. Just out of curiosity, but how long did it take before you felt comfortable with it? Is it now less intimidating than Japanese? Anyway, this was a great set of resources for my staff. Cheers - Brandon

Walter Avalos
Jul 11, 2017

As a Japanese language learner and recently Google Ad words certified I love this post. In the end one can sit down and scribe Kanji character after character and memorize them but true language experience comes from speaking it and interacting Japanese speakers. Most of my peers studying abroad in Japan had done so for years of high school but only started learning how to speak the language once in Japan. Likewise with google ad words, watching all these videos and memorizing multiple choice questions hardly covers the actual work behind the ad words interface. I couldn't imagine answering those "campaign level vs. ad group level" exam questions without first navigating the interface. My advise is watch YouTube videos of actual account management. I bought a digital marketing course on Udemy for $10 that included Ad Words usage and management, which proved invaluable understanding the platform.

Jul 13, 2017

I have 3 websites for 3 different services provided by my firm. It is expensive to pay agencies for ad-word campaign of 3 websites. I don't have technical knowledge about website and search engines. Is it possible for me to learn ad-word advertising if I spend some time? How long it will take and what is the best way to learn?

Daniel Paris
Oct 11, 2017

I'm looking for a small piece of advice as I'm still not sure which Adwords online training suits me better.
I want to develop a statistical analysis of potential consumers based on their google search. I would like to know how many people googled an specific set of words by, age, gender, location, etc. Based on this, what do you think my training should focus on? Thank you all in advance

Dec 05, 2017

Hi! This was a helpful article. Thank you. I am looking for a job in Digital Media sales/management. My background is mostly print with some (but fairly) limited online experience. I've been in advertising sales for over 10 years and want to learn as much digital on my own as possible to make me a viable candidate for a job in this space. I was considering the google certifications just to get myself more familiar with the terminology, uses, etc. Basically, enough to make me more comfortable in this space even if don't have the direct experience yet. Where do you recommend I start? Thank you for any info.

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