Do you need a Google certified PPC specialist?
Would you recommend hiring a PPC specialist/AdWords consultant only if they have Google AdWords certification, or does it not matter?
Great question! Some thoughts.
First of all, there's more than one Google Ads certification available. There are different specialisations - Search, Display, Video, Shopping, Apps and Measurement. So make sure any certification includes the parts relevant to what you want to do. For example, if you have an e-commerce website, you'd be interested in someone with a Shopping certification, but if you're a builder or lawyer that's completely irrelevant.
Secondly, the certification doesn't require any actual experience. It's an online timed test. There's nothing to stop you looking up answers in one tab while taking the test in another tab. So I wouldn't say certification alone is a requirement.
A better measure might be the Google Partner badge. The Partner Program is being overhauled (see https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9702452?hl=en-AU) and requires a business to manage a certain amount of business, achieve a minimum of 70% optimisation in the accounts it manages, and have a team with Google Ad certifications which match the business they are managing.
70% optimisation might seem low, but in my experience there are cases where what Google considers an 'optimisation' actually doesn't work for specific client goals, so I think it's fair.
Even the Google Partner badge doesn't ensure that the business is actively managing your account. It's possible to 'set and forget' - but a Google Ads account should always be reviewed and adjusted regularly. How do you know your provider is doing that? Ask for read-only access to your account, then you can go and check the change history. You should expect changes at least once a month. New keywords. New ad groups. New ads. New negative keywords. Bid adjustments. If you don't see that, ask what they have done to improve your account.
If you're looking at a new provider, ask them upfront how they feel about giving you that kind of access. Some may say their system doesn't allow it. And that's true, some have proprietary systems which don't allow it - but Google itself doesn't limit that capability. If you hit this issue, ask if they're happy to sit down with you once a month and update you on what they changed in your account. If they say no, ask yourself why they don't want to show you how they spent your money.
Other factors to look at:
- were they recommended to you?
- can you talk to another client who has been with them for 6-12 months or more?
- what experience do they have with clients like you?
- can they outline the review process they go through each month to optimise your account? What do they look at? (If they don't have a process, this question will flush that out!)
Hope that helps.