Should You Use A Certified Google Partner Agency or Freelancer?
This is an interesting question. I’ve talked about the criteria for becoming a Google Partner in another post: you pass a few certification tests and have a minimum amount of spend going through your client accounts over a 90-day period.
It’s a good way to assess where somebody is – it usually means they’re managing other clients and have a certain amount of experience, so in that respect it’s good. Plus, Google monitor performance in those accounts and if it drops below a certain level you can’t be a Google Partner.
My only proviso (and I’m being completely honest here) is that the certification exams are open book. You can pass your exams by having a second tab open and Googling the questions to get the answers. Plus, there are people around who will pass your exams for you under your login (for a fee of course). So, you could argue what do these exams really mean….
Of course, most decent freelancers, managers and agencies will do the exams and work through the questions because they do actually know what they’re doing!
It certainly is a way to pre-select people. But be aware that if you come across someone who’s just starting out, especially a freelancer, they may have a lot of experience and have probably passed the exams (it’s usually the first thing people do when they want to start out in AdWords management). But they may not have reached that spend threshold yet, which doesn’t mean they’re no good at managing accounts. You have to start somewhere after all.
In that instance I think it’s important to talk to them. They might have experience working for another agency or in-house for a company running their own AdWords. They might have a lot of experience but just haven’t reached Partner status yet.
Now Premier Partners have a much higher level to qualify. They have a much higher spend threshold (Google don’t tell us how much that is, but it’s a considerable amount), and I believe they have to have multiple people who have passed the certifications. Performance in their accounts needs to reach certain minimum standards.
Generally, what happens if you work with a Premier Partner is that you’ll expect to pay higher management fees for the privilege.
To summarise, it’s good way to sort the wheat from the chafe but bear in mind that just because a freelancer doesn’t yet have Partner status it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should dismiss them when it comes to managing your account. Talk to them, ask what experience they have, and maybe ask them to do an account audit for you so they can demonstrate what value they could bring to your account management.