How to Pass the Google Analytics Certification Test

How to Pass the Google Analytics Certification Test

A couple months ago, a group of us set out to get certified in Google Analytics. Luckily there were tons of awesome resources to help hold our hand through the process. Then a few days before I took the test (October 2014), Google had changed the entire format. (I know… shocker right).

I really appreciated the additional resources and insights the community provided, and since all of that information is now a little out of date, I wanted to give updated information on how to pass this daunting exam. I hope you find this updated Google Analytics Certification study guide useful!

Heads up on the Exam

Sorry, this is not an easy test.

If you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you may have missed that Google Analytics changed…a lot. I started my career doing analysis from Google Analytics, and I’m amazed and how much I’ve had to do to stay totally current with the platform changes.

If you’ve been a casual GA user and haven’t taken the time to really dig into the new features of the platform (and let’s be honest, most of us haven’t), get ready – because this isn’t a bird course and you can’t pass with just a general familiarity of how to get reports in GA.

Now, I’m writing this post to help you get prepped on how to study and pass the Google Analytics test. If you are looking for general GA 101 tips or for how to do meaningful consulting, stop reading now. This post is designed for those that are ready to roll up their sleeves and pass this darn test…ideally as quickly as possible.

FAQ: Is it Worth it to Take the Google Analytics Certification?

I get this question a lot. To be honest, if you want to take this exam to learn how give strategic Analytics consulting to clients…sorry, this likely isn’t going to be your silver bullet. That being said, this is a quick way to get really in tune with everything in Google Analytics and I absolutely believe this will allow you to level-up your Google Analytics consulting if you’ve been doing it before now.

But, short and sweet, getting a GA Certification doesn’t mean you are capable of delivering excellent consulting. However, it is proof that you understand that fundamentals of the platform and Google’s view on analytics, which is a critical foundation for delivering good consulting.

It also helps that the test is free now. So, in general I’d say yes, it’s worth it – just don’t expect to emerge as a black belt GA ninja.

Should I take the Google Analytics Exam

Learn from our Mistakes!

A few months ago, we decided to push a group of people through the certification process. A lot of advice I’m giving is from the mistakes that we made and the successes we had, so hopefully you can have an easier time at passing this test.

Our Biggest Mistake: Avoid Distracting Material

Avoid Distracting Material

In retrospect, this was a big challenge. So, word of caution: beware of information overload. In addition to Google tossing out a gazillion additional resources in their training series, every SEO worth their salt has another half-a-gazillion articles about Google Analytics features they love. If a quest for knowledge is what you seek, feel free to take 6 months to troll through the awesome resources our community puts together. These resources are darn helpful when you are actually working with clients and getting GA done right.

However, if you are trying to pass this test, save these intellectual pursuits for another day and stay focused on the core material.

What You Actually Need to Study

The best thing you can study is Analytics Academy.

You will only need to do Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Google Analytics platform principles. Fair warning: only about 2/3 of the exam is pulled from there. But, never fear, I’ll give you a quick roadmap below of the other content you need to know.

Almost every lesson links to additional resources, but here are the big ones to pay attention to:

  1. Avinash Kaushik – You don’t need to explore every third party additional resource, but when they reference Avinash Kaushik in Analytics Academy, you’ll want to read and grab notes on this stuff. In addition to being a genius with reporting metrics and strategy, his content actually ends up in at least one question.
  2. Url Builder – Know it, love it, bookmark it.

A Third Party Resource Worth Reading

Last year, Josh Waldrum wrote a fantastic breakdown of the Google Analytics Certification for Moz. Again, before Google changed the test fall of 2014…grrr! But, his content tips on what to keep in mind for the test are pretty sound. It’s worth a read before you start to study. He will also give a quick run-down of the content in Analytics Academy that will show up on the test.

But, as you read his article (or any other of the mind-numbing amount of test prep resources), here’s what’s changed about the test:

What’s Changed with the Test Since Late 2014 

  • This is now free (yay)
  • You have to be associated to your company’s Partner Account (which means you may need to set this up if your business doesn’t have a Partner Account).
  • There is no longer an option to mark or skip a question – you answer and submit them in order, one by one
  • You can’t pause the test – you get 90 minutes for 70 questions
  • It’s now multiple choice and there aren’t multiple choices per question (which is awesome if you tend to really over think questions like I do).
  • You have to get a 80% on the test.

Passed GA Exam

The Content of the Test

  • I’d guess about 2/3 of the content was covered in GA Academy…the rest is just either common sense, something you have to click around to find in GA, or a more advanced question that takes some time.
  • I’d guess about 10 questions really threw me for a loop.
  • There is a timer and progression bar at the bottom, so they will let you know how far you’ve gotten, which is nice since you can’t pause and you can’t go back to re-answer a question.

Recommended Study Flow:

Here’s what I did with these exams that ended up being a formula for success:

  1. Watch the videos, copy and format the notes so you can reference them later.
    • Quick Tip: take comprehensive notes that are easy to search via “control / find” during the test.
  2. Highlight everything that is essentially a Google Analytics defined concept or process (e.g. Macro vs Micro conversion or the 5-step process for creating a measurement plan). If you’ve ever taken a Google Certification before, you’ll know that most of the battle isn’t understanding concepts, it’s understanding how Google defines concepts.
  3. Take every practice test and know what you got wrong. Although these questions won’t show up verbatim on the actual test, they will help you understand the important topics and the way Google structures questions.
  4. Do this all as fast as possible (but don’t cram it) – it’s hard to remember the 5 step measurement plan 3 months after you learned it. People who gave themselves several months to do this ended up struggling more, because they had to go back and re-learn these concepts.

How to Prep for the Google Analytics Exam

How to Do this in Approximately 2 Weeks

This is the flow that I stuck to, and even with Google changing the structure of the exam a few days before I took it, I still aced it because I stuck to this rigorous schedule.

ass Google Analytics Exam in 2 Weeks

The Study Guide

Below is my recommended study guide for the test. Fair warning, I’m keeping it short and to the point, so it’ll be a lot more useful once you’ve gotten through Analytics Academy:

Priority Items Covered in Analytics Academy

There are the big things that are covered in Analytics Academy that you’ll definitely want to pay attention to as you get to them in the lessons…

Macro vs Micro Conversions

Macro Conversion = Most Important Thing Someone Can Do On your Site

Micro Conversion = Every other type of conversion

Example for an Ecommerce Site:

  • Macro Conversion = Sale
  • Micro Conversion = Newsletter Signup, Coupon Download, Contact Us Form Fill, etc.

Multi-Channel Attribution (including assisted conversions and conversion attribution models)

The Four Main Models you need to know (there are more) but these are the four that are focused on in the exam

  • Last Click = Last channel gets 100% of the credit
  • Last Non Direct Click = last channel that is direct gets credit
  • Liner = Each channel gets equal credit
  • First Interaction = First channel gets credit

Multi Channel AttributionSo if the channels of a visitor are Adwords => Organic => Social => Direct, here’s how the attribution breaks down for each model:

  • Last Click: 100% Direct
  • Last Non-Direct: 100% Social
  • First Interaction: 100% Adwords
  • Linear: 25% each channel

Obvious Tip: You can’t measure this if goal tracking or e-commerce tracking aren’t setup.

Reminder: The default is last non-direct click attribution

Assisted Conversions Report & Value

In the assisted conversions report, they give a numeric value for assisted / last click or direct conversions. What those numbers mean:

  • Less than 1: that channel completed more sales than it assisted
  • 1: That channel equally assisted and closed sales
  • Greater than 1: That channel assisted more than it closed sales

Assisted Conversion Value

Tracking Subdomains

When tracking subdomains, create a view (profile) for cross domain tracking and use the same tracking code on both properties.

You don’t need to:

  • Create a new account
  • Get new tracking code

Tracking Subdirectories Using Filters

Basically, you need this screen (which is under filters in the Admin tab)

Tracking Subdirectories Using Filters

Identifying Source vs. Medium

Don’t get these mixed up, otherwise you may struggle with a few questions.

Source examples: Google or Facebook.com

Medium examples: Organic or CPC

Tip: If you get confused, jump into GA at any time to see which one makes which list

Source vs Medium in Google Analytics

URL Builder & Parameter Tagging

Google actually did a nice job really hammering it home in the prep material that you need to know this.

Basically, to get through the parameter tagging questions, you need the URL Builder.

Hint: The order you add the parameters in does not matter.

Google Process (5 stages of planning, implementation process, 4 components of GA data collection, etc)

So…your fearless Google instructors created a bunch of standard processes and categorizations that they would now like you to memorize.

Here’s the 5 stages of Measurement Planning (paraphrased slightly)

  1. Know what you want to measure
  2. Make sure your IT guys won’t riot over installing GA
  3. Create an implementation plan (you know, if IT isn’t rioting)
  4. Go ahead implement
  5. Refine implementation over time if it doesn’t work

Here are a couple other big ones to look for in your study material:

  • Implementation Planning
  • 4 Components of Google Analytics
  • The correct procedure for setting up a Google Analytics Account

Unique Pageviews vs. Pageviews

Unique pageviews eliminates counting pageviews from a user who viewed the same page multiple times in the same visit (session). If you get mixed up on this, just remember the # of Pageviews should be larger than the number of Unique Pageviews.

Ecommerce Conversion tracking vs. Goal Tracking

Goal tracking only counts 1 conversion per session, Ecommerce tracks multiple sales (even in 1 session).

‘Nough said…

Table Filters

This is one of those questions that makes you feel silly after you realize what they were asking. Basically, this is what they mean by an advanced table filter:

Advanced Filter GA

Priority Items Not Covered in Analytics Academy

While having a priority study guide to highlight the content covered in Analytics Academy may be nifty, I thought it would be helpful to outline the material that came up that wasn’t in the basic material, or wasn’t really covered to the depth that you’d need to know for the test.

*Please note: between September and December, about 10% of the test changed, so it’s a fair guess that 10% of this test will have changed again by the time you take it.*

Benefits of Google Tag Manager

Guess what, when Google rolls out something new, they like to see immediate adoption and emotional attachment to their new product lines. If this was 2010, there would probably be a question about how Google Wave is going to revolutionize the industry.

So…when you see a question like this, you know what to do…

What can Google Tag Manager Do?

  • A lot, because it’s awesome
  • More than any other tool that preceded it…because it’s awesome
  • More than anything Bing could ever come up with…have we mentioned it’s awesome?
  • All of the above

How to Calculate Ecommerce Conversion Rate

You probably could’ve figured this out on your own (especially if you weren’t under the stress of test). However, here’s the formula you need:

(Number of sales / number of visitors) X 100

Troubleshooting Tracking Code

Yep this is about as much fun as it sounds. Here’s the best article I found to help get through this question.

 AdWords Stuff

Come on, you didn’t think you were getting out of a few AdWords questions did you? Luckily the AdWords questions are pretty basic and easy to get to if you aren’t sure what they mean.

  • Destination URLs – aka the report that tells you how your landing pages are performing.
  • Hour of Day – aka the report that tells you what hours of the day are more effective for your campaign.

Basically: Just be ready to navigate to the AdWords reports in GA if needed.

Google Loves Adwords

Default Channel Grouping

This will help…you are welcome.

Channel Group Settings

Search and Replace Custom Filters

So…this article covers this topic, but basically they want you to know your way around this screen:

Google Analytics Filter Admin View

Site Speed Report Basics

If you can click to the site speed section of Google Analytics (it’s under Behavior), then you can get this question right.

Demographics & Interests

Google wants to test whether or not you know how they gather demographic information. And no, the right answer isn’t “because Google owns the world and all its data” (but secretly we may wonder…)

Here’s the sentence from the article linked above that you need: “Demographics and Interests data comes from the third-party DoubleClick cookie (for web traffic) and from anonymous identifiers for mobile apps (i.e. Advertising ID for Android and IDFA for iOS).”

Measurement Protocol & Data Import

So anytime you need to troll through Google Developers to find an answer, you know it’s going to be a party.

Luckily Google doesn’t demand much depth here…they basically want you to just know that the Measurement Protocol is what allows developers to send user interaction data to GA servers.

You can get more details in this article in Google Developers.

When Does Google Let You Import Personally Identifiable Information?

Ok, technically this gets covered in Analytics Academy as subtext somewhere, but  enough people taking the test got tripped up by this that I’m going to say Google may not have emphasized it as much as they could…

Allow me to rephrase the question slightly, and you’ll see what they are getting at. “When does Google let you import data like customer names, credit card numbers and social security numbers into Google Analytics”?

Phrased like that you may realize this is a trick question and the answer is Never Ever.

GA Time Lag Report

Key #1: Know where to find this puppy. It’s under Conversions => Multi-Channel Funnels

Key #2: Know what it means (it helps you figure out how long it takes, on average, to convert a visitor).

Test Day

Ok, when you’ve gotten through the material and ready to take the plunge, here’s what I recommend to have setup:

  • Make sure your Google Partner account is setup ahead of time (since it may consist of tracking down logins to your companies MCC, etc.)
  • Have either multiple monitors or another computer setup. Also, if it were me, I wouldn’t roll the dice on wireless.
  • If you are doing this in an office, tell people you are doing this and to leave you alone (cause you only get 90 minutes).

What to Have up During the Test: 

Luckily this isn’t the LSAT – Google will keep track of your progress through the exam and time left for you, so you don’t need to worry about a stop watch or trying to figure out how much time you can spend on a question with how much time you have left.

Tip on Time Allocation: Most people finished this exam with 20ish minutes to spare. About 1/2 of the questions were pretty easy, another 1/4 were a bit harder and the rest were downright challenging. I stuck to the rule of never spending more than 5 minutes on a single question.

I wish you the best of luck on your Google Analytics Certification! If the exam ends up changing massively again, or if you come across something in your study material and have questions or wonder if that will really show up in the test, feel free to leave a comment on this post. We are also planning to send another group of people through the exam process starting in February 2015, so we’ll update this post with any new changes or findings.

 

  • HLee

    Thanks Natalie! This is very helpful since most of the resources currently out there are from people who have taken the test before the change. If multiple screens are not an options, do you know if having 2 browsers (chrome for the GA test and safari for the resources tabs) will work? I read conflicting info on whether or not you are allowed to click between browsers. Thanks!

    • HLee – thanks for the compliment, I’m glad you are finding this helpful. It seems like Google is changing up this exam pretty regularly, so I’m just happy to give back to the community for this particular exam iteration. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure of the answer to your question, because I used multiple monitors at the time. I would recommend considering a second computer (maybe a laptop on loan from a buddy) or worst case scenario make some well-organized printouts of notes. We do have another set of employees gearing up to take the exam next month, so I’ll ask them to test it out when they’ve got the test going and I’ll update the post accordingly.

    • Barb Dittert

      Hmmmm … that is a great question. I will have to check in with Natalie and find out!

  • Super useful and has inspired me to take the certification, thanks so much for writing this up : )

    • Martin, I’m glad you found it useful and I hope the test goes well! Good Luck!

    • Barb Dittert

      Certified Google Analysts unite!!

  • By chance I came across this article on Twitter yesterday, the same day that I was going to perform the examination for Google Analytics Certification and I passed! Reading it gave me a number of very important key to the test. Natalie, thank you very much for your input and excellent article.

    • Barb Dittert

      Woo hoo!!! Perfect timing!

  • This is awesome, I always wanted to become a GA certified but never tried due to information overload. There are lots of articles in the web that tells you how to crack GA certification but none of them are worthy. You just made things simple for me now i will try your strategy to get my certificate. Thanks a lot for inspiring me…

  • Nice article.I have cleared Analytics, Adwords , shopping , DBM exam as well, but the question is it still important to have tis certification?? Like people are asking for adobe omniture certification and that is too costly, how to go for that??

  • Suchi

    Hi,
    Thanks for all the help, I cleared my test yesterday with 94% 😀
    Where can we download our certificate from ?
    I dont see any link for the certificate 🙁

    • Congrats on Passing! Great question – it’s actually a little hard to find. If you go to your profile in Google Partners (google.com/partners), then click the link under your profile picture titled “Analytics Certified” it will shoot you over to a copy of your certificate, which you can download by printing as a pdf: http://screencast.com/t/NFxRonUL9Hwc

  • Used this and the referenced Moz post to pass on my first try, thanks!

  • Passed the test, thanks for this blog post! It was so helpful in creating a study plan and for pointing me in the right direction for resources. It’s amazing how over a year later so few materials are geared towards the new test, so thanks again for filling the void.

  • CT Kaupp

    I just started the training today for GA Cert. My company has made this a requirement. I haven’t been looking forward to it & honestly it has felt a bit overwhelming. In the past few hours, your extensive piece here has helped me more than anything I have read/watched thus far. You’ve broken everything down so nicely & have given me tremendous insight into what I really need to focus on…or make sure I re-read 10x 😉

    Thank you!!

    -CT

About Natalie Henley

Natalie Henley is the President of Volume Nine, regularly developing strategy to improve our client’s results. Natalie started her marketing career in Communications and Market Research at Edelman PR working on campaigns for Fortune 50 companies. She got into SEO over 6 years ago and hasn't looked back. With experience in SEO, Google Analytics, Adwords, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing & Email Marketing, Natalie also does a lot of speaking and training for Volume Nine.