Are You Ready for Google Analytics Certification?

Published October 12, 2017
You’re already a fan of Google Analytics. You know which data to pull, you know how to look at your audience, user behaviors, and conversions. You gather, analyze and present this kind of data month after month. Your clients, colleagues, and boss are satisfied.
But somewhere, in the back of your mind, you feel like you’re missing something. There are links in Google Analytics you’ve never clicked, reports you don’t use because you’re not quite sure what they mean. You can’t escape the nagging feeling that there’s something more you should be doing.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s probably time to think about Google Analytics (GA) Certification. Being GA certified is more than just a nice line for marketing materials and it’s more than a resume filler. It’s the process of trying to get as much as you can out of an extremely robust and intricate analytics tool that can help reveal the kind of detailed insight that helps cultivate meaningful, strategic change. In this post, we’ll go through some of the details of why and how to get your certification.

Should I Get Google Analytics Certified?

If you’ve ever spent time in GA this is probably a question you’ve asked yourself or someone you work with. While the answer is most likely “yes,” a few other questions can help support the decision and validate the investment of time.

Does your job require you to use analytics data to assess website performance or influence marketing decisions, like what content to write or which landing pages are effective?

Have you ever used Google Analytics? Going from barely knowing how to access analytics to certification can be a pretty big leap. But if you’ve spent a fair amount of time in GA, and understand what most of the reports are saying and where to go to find the information you want, you’re probably ready. When you’ve reached that point the next logical step is to become certified. Because the process of getting your certification will help deepen your relationship with what you know and reveal what you don’t.

So you think you’re a good candidate to become certified, what’s next?

How To Get Certified in Google Analytics

First, let’s clarify. There are two kinds of Google Analytics Certification, the one we’re talking about here is Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ). This program results in a certificate demonstrating proficiency. For agencies, there is the Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) program, which is a much more exacting series of requirements that results in the “Certified Partner Badge” once an organization meets all of the conditions.

To take the GAIQ exam, start by going to the Google Partners website. If you don’t have an account, you can set one up and once logged in choose the box that says “Get Certified.”


Google Partners Website to Get Certified


From there, you’ll be able to choose from four different exams: AdWords, Analytics, Digital Sales and Mobile Sites. All of which have their valuable applications, but for now we’ll focus on the Analytics test. From this screen click, “See Exam.”


Access the Google Analytics Certification Exam


On the next page, you’ll have the opportunity to do one of two things, launch directly into taking the Google Analytics Certification test or study first. The test consists of 70 questions, lasts 90 minutes and requires 80% correct answers to pass. Once you have passed, the certificate is valid for 18 months. Google makes updates to analytics pretty regularly on anything from functionality to interface, which means that 18 months from today there may be new features to test you on.


Taking the Google Analytics Certification Exam


Getting Ready For Your GAIQ Exam

Before taking the test though, it’s a really good idea to spend some time using the study guides. Even if you’ve set up a Google Analytics account, and even if you’ve been using and reading reports for months or years. The thing is, as they say, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”


Google Analytics Academy Courses


The Analytics Academy courses cover both basic and advanced concepts. Each course will help you become more familiar with the material and get you thinking about the areas that may still be undiscovered territory for you. There are both videos and text transcripts of videos available to help you based on your own best learning style.

Additionally, outside sources make it possible to see example questions and take practice tests. However, it’s likely that your own questions will be much different, and it’s a good idea to set time limits for yourself if you’re practicing. The GAIQ exam time gives you only 90 minutes to complete the test and there is no option to pause at any point. With that in mind, make sure you’re in a situation where you won’t be interrupted when you begin the exam. If you don’t get the requisite 80% on your first (or even second or third) try you can retake it after 7 days.

Studying ahead of time will help your chances of passing on the first try or improving your score on subsequent attempts. Even though you may work in GA frequently and this is a self-initiated exam, it’s still wise to do your homework and come to the table prepared.

The Benefits of Google Analytics Certification

Maybe you’re not one of those people that love to take tests. Perhaps you’ve been using Google Analytics for years without a piece of paper that says that you know how. Or on the flip side, maybe you think that data analysis is more complicated than 90 minutes and 80% accuracy on 70 questions can provide. In either case, take the test anyway.
Being certified benefits you by:

  • Making you more knowledgeable and proficient in using arguably the most powerful free tool set provided by the largest search engine in the world.
  • Providing an added layer of validity to your already excellent experience and qualifications.
  • Taking a test that includes several scenario-based questions. These will help you apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills that you’ll be able to use later when evaluating your own clients or website data.
  • Giving you something to brag about at parties.

Being certified benefits your company/clients by:

  • Allowing you to conduct more thorough, informed and granular data analysis. Even though the standard reports and big picture data may be worth reporting to clients, you never know what crucial piece of insight might be buried somewhere in a report modified by custom segments and secondary dimensions. Learning how to use the bells and whistles in Google Analytics is more than just a luxury, it could be the difference between carrying on the status quo and spotting something that may revolutionize a campaign.
  • Digital marketing is still a relatively new specialty in the grand scheme of things. Advertising has been a thriving sector since the days of “Mad Men,” but even if we credit the digital age as beginning in the mid-nineties, digital marketing as a profession is barely approaching its quarter-life crisis. Even so, in the last decade, it has exploded. With an increasingly crowded market vying to land both clients and in-house positions, any advantage is worth having. Not to mention, with a rapid influx of “experts” whose expertise is dubious, passing this exam at least establishes that, by Google’s standards for individuals, you understand what you’re doing.


While there’s not a rule that says you have to become certified to be a pro at Google Analytics, the process of taking the test will certainly help you get there. If you’re experienced, but looking to take your skills to the next level, wondering how you can get better ideas out of data analysis or just trying to find a new way to stand out from the crowd, then getting certified in Google Analytics may be your answer. No matter what your job description is, if you touch GA for a living, the GAIQ test is ready and waiting to help you become better at what you do.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.