How to Get Google Analytics Certified: Step-by-Step

Published December 14, 2018

Every digital agency and internal marketing group needs a Google Analytics expert. Since you are reading this post, you’ve probably decided that you want to be that expert. Or maybe you’ve been “volunteered” for that role by your team!

Either way, congratulations! Mastery of Google Analytics is an important milestone in becoming a proficient digital marketer. A good start is to become certified by passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) exam. In this post, we walk through the process, step by step, of getting Google Analytics certified.

5 Steps for Getting Google Analytics Certified

Google provides official certification - the Google Analytics Individual Qualification - fondly referred to as the GAIQ. It is a great credential to have, that helps with your career, and with being recognized internally at your company as someone who understands web analytics concepts.

To pass the GAIQ certification exam, you need to know Google Analytics pretty well. The good news is that Google provides all the study materials you need for free. It is also free to take the test.  And if you fail, you can study some more and retake it again in 7 days.

So, there is really no downside to taking the GAIQ exam. And, it’s actually not that hard to pass as long as you are willing to put in some time studying. Here’s the 5 steps for getting Google Analytics certified. If you follow these, you’ll be sure to pass.

  1. Get Mentally Prepared -  No shortcuts. A positive attitude is everything when you need to study hard.

  2. Get Access to Some Google Analytics Accounts - You’ll want some real data to work with as you learn.

  3. Take Google Analytics for Beginners  - The first study guide. Don’t blow it off, even if you already know Google Analytics.

  4. Take Advanced Google Analytics - The second study guide. You might want to go through it twice.

  5. Take the GAIQ Exam - Take the plunge! Remember, even if you fail, you can take it again in 7 days.

Get Mentally Prepared

If you are going to do this, then just do it. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t try to find the easiest path, putting in the least possible effort. Get psyched up and maintain a positive attitude. Keep your eye on the goal - becoming proficient in Google Analytics. That’s a skill that both you and your employers will really value. Understanding Google Analytics will bring new confidence to your work. Keep reminding yourself that it’s worth the effort.

Get Access to Some Google Analytics Accounts

The study materials in the Google Analytics Academy provide access to a demo account. So, you don’t absolutely need access to real data. But, learning about web analytics is much more interesting when you can apply the concepts to a website that means something to you. Wouldn’t you like to know which are the most popular pages on your company website? Or where most of its traffic comes from?  Or which one of last month’s Google Ads campaigns had the highest conversion rate?

Make an effort to get access to your company’s Google Analytics account. In most marketing departments, they would be delighted to have somebody going through the website statistics. You might even consider offering to give a brief presentation on how the website is performing. Getting comfortable enough with Google Analytics to make that kind of presentation is one of the big benefits of getting certified.

If you work for an agency, you should request access to a few of your clients’ accounts. Talk to the account managers about what some of the challenges and opportunities the clients are facing. And see if you can trace those issues back to what the data in Google Analytics is telling you.

As you work through Google’s study materials, refer back to your company (or client) Google Analytics reports. Reinforce the concepts you are learning by reviewing real data.


google analytics


Take Google Analytics for Beginners

You can start from scratch, knowing nothing about Google Analytics.  The Google Analytics for Beginners course assumes no prior knowledge.  But even if you are already very experienced with Google Analytics, you should take this course.  Material will be presented here in the same way that it appears on the GAIQ exam, so take notes, and pay attention to the terminology that Google uses.  

This is especially important if you are self-taught in Google Analytics. You may need to relearn a few things “the right way”.

You’ll need to register, but the course is free. Google claims it takes 4-6 hours to complete. In reality, the amount of time you need to spend on this course depends a lot on how much experience you already have with web analytics. If you are starting from scratch, it may take longer, because you are going to pause and try out new concepts as you learn them with your own Google Analytics account. You may even want to work through this course twice.

On the other hand, if you are experienced with Google Analytics, you can probably skim through some of the material quickly and get done in less than 4 hours. Before you start the course, you may want to have a look at the frequently asked questions.

At the end of each course section, there is a short assessment test.  You need to score 80% or better to pass. We recommend that you score at least 90% an all sections before moving on to the advanced course. If you fall short, simply work through the course a second time and retake the assessment.

Take Advanced Google Analytics

Once you are comfortable with the material presented in the beginner course, you are ready to register for and take, Advanced Google Analytics. Again, Google estimates that this course can be completed in 4-6 hours. But, that really depends on how well you know Google Analytics. If you are starting from scratch, or are unfamiliar with advanced web analytics concepts, don’t get frustrated if you need more than 6 hours.

In this course, you’ll learn the really powerful tools for getting the most out of Google Analytics.  So remember, stay positive! Once you’ve mastered this material, you’ll be a web analytics force to be reckoned with. For example, one of the skills you learn here is remarketing. After this course, you know how to run ads on Google that only show to people who have already visited your website.  

Again, you’ll take a short assessment test at the end of each section. Here, we recommend that you score at least 90% on each section before attempting the GAIQ exam. Why? Because it is easier to master material here, in small chunks, than to score poorly on the full GAIQ exam and they try to figure out what you need to go study.

Take the GAIQ Exam

Once you are confident that you have mastered the Advanced Google Analytics material, it is time to take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) exam! First, you need to register with the Academy for Ads - which is free. The test itself is 90 minutes long and contains 70 questions. You need to score 80% to pass (so, you can get up to 14 questions wrong)

If you’ve followed the steps above, you should have no trouble passing. But, in the event that you fail, don’t stress! You can take it again within 7 days.  Just stay positive, go back and take the online courses again, and give it another shot.

When you do pass, you’ll get a fun thumbs up image from Google:


And you’ll get a certificate as well. Show it to your boss! Frame it and put it on the wall! Link to it from your resume. Be proud, you earned it.

I studied, took it, and passed with 90%. Here’s the PDF as proof :-)



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.