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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.