Full Review: Google Digital Garage's Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Certificate Course

Popzazzle | Sunday, 27 September 2020 |

"One common eventuality is that an online course will cost nothing at all, but if you want the certificate you have to pay for it. How does Google's offering shape up in the light of that?..."


Google Digital Garage - Fundamentals of Digital Marketing signup
The sign up page for Google Digital Garage's Fundamentals of Digital Marketing.

It's amazing what you can find being offered for free on the World Wide Web. Your own publishing space. A global video communication service. A golden opportunity to make a complete dipstick of yourself... The value of ye wondrous interwebz' assortment of freebies varies wildly. But how about a free and totally genuine Google certificate of proficiency in Digital Marketing? That's gotta rank pretty highly in the catalogue of goodies, right?

The educational environment is called Google Digital Garage, and the offering to which I allude above is a certificate course called Fundamentals of Digital Marketing. It's easy to sign up - especially if you already have a Google account - and you can start straight away. You don't have to mess around with any applications or wait for approval...

Naturally, you do have to actually work through the study, and pass a test. But it's not a long process, and if the whole thing really is free, you're getting industry-leading knowledge as well as an electronic accreditation, for nothing more than the time it takes you to complete.

If you've investigated online learning before, you'll know that there are lots of "free educational certificate courses" on the Web, and not all of them turn out to be as free as you might be expecting. One common eventuality is that the course costs nothing at all, but if you want the certificate you have to pay for it. So how does Google's offering shape up in the light of that? Is the whole thing really free? And how difficult is the all-important test?...

The good news is that the entire certification process genuinely is free, from sign-up right through to the official electronic Google certificate dropping into your Downloads folder. Being Google-certified in any way whatsoever is pretty cool, and whilst the course comprises 26 modules with a total quoted study time of 40 hours, I blasted through this in one weekend, without skipping over any of the learning. Getting your Google Digital Marketing certification needn't take a huge chunk out of your life.

Better still, when you complete Google's Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course, you're also automatically awarded completion of the following Google Digital Garage courses...

  • Get a Business Online
  • Make Sure Customers Find You Online
  • Promote a Business With Online Advertising
  • Expand a Business to Other Countries
  • Promote a Business With Content
  • Understand Customers' Needs and Online Behaviours

That's because these smaller courses are components of Fundamentals of Digital Marketing. And you're additionally credited with covering 92% of How to Enhance and Protect Your Online Campaign. You can finish the last 8% of that course in less than an hour, which will then mean you have eight separate Digital Garage accomplishments. Only the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing carries a certificate, but you'll still be able to log yourself in and show an employer your Learning Plan, with all of the above courses completed and under your belt.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL


The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course is nicely paced, and very well presented, entirely in video form. You can, however, read transcripts instead of streaming if you wish. With the exception of the final test, I'd describe the whole thing as a very comfortable and pressure-free experience.

The 26 separate modules cover almost every digital marketing aspect you can imagine. E-commerce, content marketing, social media marketing, keyword research and planning, local business, international business, SEM, SEO, display advertising, analytics, mobile-specific marketing (including apps)... And loads more.

And it's very much not just about the technical processes. The course looks at issues such as tone of voice, saying the right things, finding a USP, platform-sensitive communication styles, etc.

Within each module, there's further subdivision into bite-sized chunks. One module might comprise five separate videos of around four minutes each. There's quite a bit of repetition over the length of the course. You will not be allowed to forget the importance of having a mobile-friendly website!

After each video you're tested on your knowledge. These micro-tests vary in format. You can keep trying until you correctly complete the test. The software won't say "SORRY, YOU'VE FAILED!" and kick you out. You can even call back the video and watch it again if you're struggling.

At the end of each module, there's then a slightly bigger test, in a stricter, multiple choice format. Again, if you get any answers wrong, you can retry. But this low-pressure feel does rather lull you into a false sense of security as regards the main test at the end.

Even though the pressure is off during the progressive, in-study tests, I'd still advise treating them like life or death challenges and aiming to get the answers right first time. If you're getting most of the in-study answers wrong at first attempt, you can take it as a pretty reliable indication that you're not going to pass the final test...

When you reach the end of the course, you're faced with a full exam, which has a minimum pass score of 80%. It's all multiple choice, but if you don't pay attention to the course, then unless you're a truly consummate digital marketer who does everything Google's way, I'd say the likelihood of getting 80% or more of the questions right would be slim.

Some of the questions have multiple feasibly correct answers, and the only way you can really know which one the test is looking for, is by paying attention to the course.

There's no trial and error in the final exam. You either pass or fail. And if you fail, there's a time lapse before you're allowed to take it again. If you pass, you can access your certificate on the spot.

Digital Garage Certificate Download Screen
The joyous vision you'll see immediately after passing your final test. All you have to do from here is hit the Download button and the certificate is yours.

THE CERTIFICATE


The certificate comes as a PDF file, so it's easy to transmit to anyone you want to see it. There's a verification link embedded into the certificate, so if the person to whom you're sending it wants to make sure you haven't doctored the name, they can easily do so.

And if you're concerned about the name that goes on your certificate, don't be. If your Google Account isn't in your real name, and you want the certificate in your real name, that's fine. You get two expressed opportunities to change the name - one when you begin the course, and the other just before the certificate is issued. But you can actually change the student name at any point along the way by going to the My Profile tab in your main Digital Garage menu.

To clarify, you can do the course in a different name from the one that's public on your Google account.

HOW USEFUL IS THE COURSE?


In educational terms, Fundamentals of Digital Marketing is very useful indeed. When I took the course I'd been blogging for nearly a decade, had a good understanding of SEO, had blogged commercially, and had not struggled to get posts into highly visible positions on the search engines. Thought I knew it all, basically. But I still learned a lot. Especially if you do freelance work, the course gives you a better sense of the market norms and what you're competing with. And if you serve Google adverts on any of your sites, the course may give you a better understanding of the terminology. I found I was able to write a better privacy statement for my ad-monetised sites after completing the course. The big picture of display advertising makes more sense to me now.

Is the certificate going to sway employers? It might sway some in the realm of direct freelancing, but most of the companies offering fully-fledged Digital Marketing roles are looking for a lot more than a certificate that can be acquired in two or three days - Google or not. They ideally want graduates, and that's a very different level of educational commitment from Google Digital Garage.

Savvy employers will also have the nouse to realise that online accreditations such as this are not cheat-proof. The test is not conducted under examination conditions. You're not testing live in front of someone who can identify you. There's no proof that you didn't, for example, get someone else to sit in front of your computer and take the test for you.

But don't let me detract from the certificate's worth. You're always going to be better off with it than without it. And the greatest benefit comes in the knowledge imparted by the course itself. Since joining Google Digital Garage I've gone on to do other courses that don't carry certificates - just because I like the format and I want to improve my knowledge in those particular areas. If it's free, and it teaches you something useful, it's a lot more productive than sitting in front of TV soap operas or quiz shows.

RECOMMENDED?


Do I recommend Digital Garage's Fundamentals of Digital Marketing? If you're going to be involved in any aspect of digital marketing in the near future, yes.

If you're embarking on the course without any prior knowledge of online publishing or (particularly) SEO, it's going to require a lot of focus. Having a high level of public empathy is also very useful. If you have a background in customer service you'll probably find it easier than if your background is in, say engineering, or manufacturing. A lot of the non-technical tenets centre around knowing what the public expect and how they like to be treated.

So, if you don't really know what you want to watch on TV tonight, why not take advantage of a highly beneficial Internet freebie instead? In a week's time, you could be able to legitimately boast that you're Google-certified.