My colleague Paul and I have been using Google Analytics for as long as we’ve been involved in online marketing (and, in his case, probably before) but neither of us had actually thought about testing our prowess until recently – when our colleague Mark suggested that we both take the Google Analytics IQ Exam.
But what is the Google Analytics IQ Exam, I hear you say?
Google Analytics is a revolutionary tool which has given both online marketing professionals and internal webmasters extensive insight into the performance of their website. The certification represents a proof of proficiency test set by Google themselves and is specifically tailored to test the capabilities of online marketing professionals who routinely use the tool to monitor their client’s websites and traffic. Both Paul and I use Google Analytics on a daily basis (I should point out that passing the Google Analytics IQ Exam isn’t a prerequisite for using the tool) and the revision materials helped us to better understand our requirements as SEO professionals to improve the overall performance of a client’s site.
GPMD Go Back to School!
Both Paul and I felt that we knew how to use Analytics pretty well but, as with any exam, we needed to do revision beforehand – the most useful of which was Google Analytics' own “Conversion University”, which can be found here:
This resource proved particularly useful as it provided all of the information required to pass the Google Analytics exam in easily digestible videos – which vary in length from about two minutes through to about ten minutes. The Conversion University splits the training for the exam into four distinct sections – these being:
• First Steps – A basic introduction to Google Analytics e.g. installing the tracking code, differences between metric and dimensions and segmenting data.
• Interpreting Reports – How you interpret reports within Google Analytics e.g. learning about traffic sources, time metrics and content reports.
• Fundamentals – Looks at the more complex, but fundamental, elements of using Google Analytics including regex (regular expression), ecommerce tracking and the use of filters.
• In-Depth Analysis – Reveals some of the lesser known intricacies of Google Analytics such as virtual pageviews, advanced segmentation and understanding how visitors interact with the ‘search’ function of your site.
When we actually took the exam, there were certain elements which probably came up more than others and which it would be a good idea to focus on if you’re planning on taking the exam yourself – but we’ll come to those later in the post!
There are, of course, other resources out there which are useful for preparing for the Google Analytics IQ Exam but the videos from Conversion University were definitely the most advantageous and, crucially, the most relevant. Looking through forums and reading blog posts for example can reveal other people’s experiences of taking the exam and this can be beneficial in terms of preparing yourself for the types of questions that you are likely to face.
What I would say, however, and I’m sure Paul will vouch for this as well, is that you should perhaps be wary of seeking out sample tests for the Analytics exam before you take it because we found a few and, in our infinite wisdom, decided to see if we were prepared for the actual exam by taking them (not affiliated with Google in any way). The sample tests we found had little or in some cases, no bearing on the type of questions that you are likely to face in the exam and may sway you into revising stuff that isn’t relevant at all. This may just be us and how we revise but we were a lot less confident after taking these practice exams!
I was quite nervous before actually doing the exam, though I’m not really too sure why as I’m confident using Google Analytics and couldn’t really pin-point the cause of the butterflies! It was probably because it’s been a good few years since I’ve sat an exam (the last most likely being back when I was at the University of Leeds) and I must have forgotten that exams are stressful! Paul was a nervous wreck, needless to say.
Key Elements of the Exam:
• 90 minutes long
• 70 questions
• Minimum 80% for a pass (56 correct out of 70 questions)
• Multiple choice answers
• Can review your answers before submitting for marking
It was a tense 90 minutes but – not wishing to keep you in suspense any longer – I can reveal that both Paul and I emerged victorious, in the interest of getting myself some good karma, I thought I’d reveal some of the areas which were prevalent in the exam and which you should ensure that you are comfortable with if you’re sitting it yourself:
This stands for Regular Expressions and, if used correctly, enables you to get more from Google Analytics (which is, most likely, why it is prominent in the exam itself), so it is a good idea to make sure you’re up to speed with the basics of RegEx before clicking the start button on the Google Analytics IQ Exam! You should, at the very least, know the main patterns of RegEx used regularly in analytics:
Use . (dot) to match any single character
Use /(backslash) to escape the special meaning of metacharacters
Use [ ] to match one item in a character set
? Match zero or one of the previous item
+ Match one or more of the previous item
* Match zero or more of the previous item
Another area that seemed to crop up in the exam with some frequency was that of FILTERS:
Those who use Google Analytics with some regularity are likely to have set up a wide array of filters within their different profiles as it allows for a more comprehensive overview of data. It is definitely worth watching the Conversion University video on ‘Filters’ a few times before sitting the exam to make sure that you’re comfortable with how you filter data within Google Analytics and how you would create ‘custom filters’ for your different profiles.
As an awful lot of transactional websites use Google Analytics to successfully track online sales, it shouldn’t be surprising that the issue of Ecommerce tracking appeared quite regularly throughout the Google Analytics IQ Exam. Again, in order to prepare yourself with the exam, you should familiarise yourself with the video within the Conversion University – paying particular attention to the placement of the ecommerce tracking code and finer points of _addTrans(), _addItem() and _trackTrans().
If you’re not familiar with ecommerce tracking within Google Analytics, the above image may seem overwhelming but the videos supplied by Google manage to explain it in such a manner that even a novice user should be able to become proficient at adding ecommerce tracking codes to their site.
If you’ve been paying attention (I have rambled on, so I would forgive you if this isn’t the case), you will have seen that I did briefly allude to the fact that both Paul and I passed the Google Analytics IQ Exam…
….but what were our scores?
Well, that would be telling – so you’ll have to make do with this: