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Earning the Google Ads Search Certification

The Google Ads Search Certification is a professional credential that showcases your understanding and mastery of Google Ads paid search campaigns. Since you’ve already successfully run a Google Ads search campaign – a little more study will prepare you to take this certification exam.

Your final certification exam taken during finals week will use your non-UNI Google account – since you will keep that account after graduation. As you prepare for the final, you can use your UNI Google account to take practice exams.

How to start preparing for the exam

Go to the Skillshop website and log-in with your UNI Google account. Then navigate to the Google Ads Search Certification section. You will find a number of study modules to work through that will cover what you need to know to successfully pass the certification exam.

Each section contains study and review materials to get you up to speed on different aspects of Google search advertising. Work through this material at your own pace – we will also discuss these modules during our final week of class.

How to take the search certification assessment

Finally, when you are ready to take the certification assessment, be sure you are logged in with your UNI Google Account and click on “Google Ads Search Assessment”.

You’ll have 75 minutes to take the 50 question assessment – that’s a little over a minute per question. You’ll answer one question at a time and once you answer, cannot go back to change your answer later. Don’t let time run out on you – because if the timer runs out you will automatically fail the assessment. A score of 80% or higher is required to pass and become certified.

If you fail the assessment (or just want to re-take it for practice), you can re-take the assessment after 1 day. Just remember to always use your UNI Google account when taking practice exams.

During finals week – you’ll take this same assessment in class under proctored testing conditions. For your final, you’ll use your non-UNI Google account. Only your score on the proctored final will count toward your grade.

Certification is good for one year.

Add Your Google Ads search certification to your LinkedIn profile

Once earned, you will receive a credential that can be proudly added to your LinkedIn profile under “Licenses & Certifications”.

You should also post your achievement to your LinkedIn network to let everyone know how awesome you are (and to let prospective employers know about your marketable certification)! I know I’ll be telling my LinkedIn network about you and your achievement!

Want to earn more Google Ads certifications?

If you’d like to earn more Google Ads certifications – you may also want to look into Google Ads Display certification, Video certification, Shopping Ads certification, Apps certification, and Measurement certification.

Link Your Google Ads and Google Analytics Accounts

If you are running campaigns using Google Ads, you’ll want to link your Google Ads acccount with your Google Analytics account to get full analytics on the activity of the clicks you pay for coming from your Google Ads campaigns.   

To do this, follow the instructions on this Google Analytics support page.

Or watch this short video:

Important Settings

When you link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account, there are a couple of important settings to make sure you get right.

Import Site Metrics

When you link your Google Analytics account, you’ll want to make sure that you have the option to “Import site metrics” turned on. If you’re not sure if this is turned on or not, go to Linked Accounts and find your linked Analytics web property – click on your “view”.

You should now be able to see if “Import site metrics” is turned on.

Enable Auto-Tagging

Auto-Tagging is an essential feature that allows Google Analytics to import important Google Ads data such as conversion, cost, and campaign data into Analytics reports.

Unfortunately, auto-tagging is turned off by default! You’ll need to enable it to turn it on. You can do this in Google Ads left hand navigational menu under Settings/Account Settings

What If I Can’t See My Google Analytics Account To Link To It?

Make sure both accounts share a common Google account. If your Analytics account was created with one Google account and your Ads account was created with a different one, you will not be able to link your accounts.

To fix this, simply add your second Google account as an additional user to your Google Analytics account and try linking accounts again.

Activating Your Digital Advertising WordPress Blog

Each of you has been provisioned a WordPress installation directory that you can now activate.

Step one: Find your confirmation email

You should have received an email with the subject line “New WordPress Site” that contains a link to login screen.

When you click on the “log in here” link, you should see something like this:

On this log-in page, click on “Lost your password?” and fill in your CatID as your username. You will then receive an email link to change your WordPress password.

Step 2: Set Up Your Blog Options

To log in, you’ll go to:

Once you log in, you’ll need to fill out a short form with your preferred Site Title, Username, Password, and Email address.

Be sure to leave the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” UNchecked! We want search engines to index this site!!

Step 3: Celebrate Your Success!

You did it – You’ve installed WordPress!

Click the “Log In” button to continue.

Step 4: Choose a URL

Go to and sign in with your CatID. You should see a page that shows your website plus a few options on the right hand menu.

For this class, we’re going to use a specific subdomain called This will allow us to have a shorter URL and a cooler domain than “We Blab”. You’ll need to choose a URL ending that matches your blog title and personal brand. It should be relatively short – omitting words like “The”, “and”, and “blog”.

This will be your “canonical” URL that you will use to promote your blog.

Step 5: Log In

You can log in by going to your buzz URL and clicking on “log in”. You should see a screen that looks like this:

Now you’re ready to start customizing your blog.

Postgraduate Study in Advertising

Postgraduate study in Advertising can be a good way to develop as a professional and be better-prepared (and better-connected) for your career in the advertising industry. The top graduate programs in Advertising offer priceless access to plum internships and positions at large global agencies and cutting edge boutiques.

However, these programs are not for everyone – they require a serious time commitment to complete. To get the most out of them, you’ll need a focused mental attitude and disciplined work ethic. Get ready to handle some real challenges, high expectations, and tough feedback. They are also not cheap and are located in major metropolitan areas where the cost of living will be higher.

That said – let’s take a look at my shortlist of some of the top graduate programs in Advertising.

VCU Brandcenter

VCU Brandcenter is a highly-competitive graduate program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond that is consistently ranked as one of the best graduate advertising programs in the country. With tracks in Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Brand Management, Experience Design, and Strategy – VCU offers a Masters degree that you can customize to your interests.

Because of its selectivity, reputation for excellence and rigorous curriculum, graduates of this program are highly sought-after by the best agencies in the industry.

Informative videos about the program and examples of student work (and alumni work) can be found on their YouTube channel.

Creative Circus

A creative portfolio school in Atlanta, Georgia with tracks in Art Direction, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Interactive Development, and Photography.

Miami Ad School

Miami Ad School is one of the larger programs, with locations all around the world. Miami Ad School offers a full Masters degree, five portfolio programs, and a couple of shorter immersive bootcamps.

They are best known as a portfolio school, where students work in small teams to build an exciting portfolio of work in the focused disciplines of Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Technology, Design, or Photography & Video.

Second-year students intern at well-known agencies as part of this program – providing great experience and networking opportunities.

University of Texas at Austin

The highly-regarded M.A. program at the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin offers three areas of focus: Media Insights, Planning and Strategy, and Creative.

UT Austin is one of the few universities to offer a Ph.D. program in Advertising, making it a great option for students desiring to pursue academic research related to advertising who have the goal of someday teaching advertising at the college level.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana offers an M.S. in Advertising or Strategic Brand Communications. UI has a well-regarded undergraduate program in Advertising that boasts the largest AAF college chapter in the country. With Illinois just a short drive from Iowa, this could be a good option if you don’t want to stray too far from home.

Know of other postgraduate study in Advertising programs? Let me know in the comments.

Your Daily Budget In Google Ads

What is the Google Ads daily budget?

Google Ads allows you to control your costs by setting a daily budget for your ad campaigns. If you are running a search campaign, this means that Google will continue to run your text ads for search queries that trigger your keyword bids until your budget is exceeded. At that point, your ads will no longer be served for the rest of the day.

However – there are cases when Google may overspend. It is important to understand that setting a daily budget does not guarantee an exact spend – or even a spending limit.

Google may decide to “dip into your daily budget”!

Good old Google is always trying to help you get more clicks. According to its support site, it may “dip into your daily budget” and end up spending more than the amount you’ve told Google you’d like to spend.

“Dipping into your daily budget for other days in the month helps to optimize the performance of your campaigns and helps make sure that your ads can run a little more on days when they’re very popular.”

In other words, if there is a high volume search day, Google may overspend on your campaign to compensate for other days in the week when search volume is lower. In a statement in their Help documentation, Google poetically explains the reason behind this change:

“Internet traffic is like an ocean. Some days, there will be small waves. Other days, there will be great big ones. So, if your ads don’t show up much because of low traffic, then we’ll make up for that by showing them more when traffic’s higher.”

Ok, fine. But how much will they overspend? I’m afraid there’s worrying news on that count:

That’s right – Google may overspend 2x your daily budget to “help” you.

While this might make sense for a consistent monthly advertiser who has their keyword buys dialed in and optimized – it is frustrating for a new Google Ads user who is trying different strategies in short bursts to see what works for their business. Now a failed experiment may cost 2x what you expected it to.

I believe this should be an option – and not a default setting. Regularly exceeding daily budgets set by its customers does not create a sense of trust.

Help! I went over my daily budget!

While Google may decide to exceed your daily budget on a particular day, they claim that they will not exceed your monthly charging limit (Your daily budget * 30.4) over the course of the month. This means that if Google does overspend on one day, they might underspend on another day to compensate. This doesn’t help you if you’re running a shorter duration campaign – but it is some small consolation.

In short – your daily budget is an important tool to control your costs – but you must understand when and why Google might exceed it – and adjust as appropriate.

But what if I’m running a short campaign?

If you are running a campaign of limited duration (under 20 days), the implications of this new change are that you should either plan on spending up to 2x your stated daily budget – or set it to a lower amount as much as 50% under what you’d like to spend. Google has reportedly said that it is “highly unlikely” that a short campaign would consistently overdeliver by 2x the daily budget – but it remains to be seen how that plays out in reality.

Where can I find more information about this change?

Complete coverage of the implications of this change can be found in Ginny Marvin’s excellent article on Search Engine Land.

Got Comment Spam? Akismet to the Rescue!

Akismet is a WordPress plugin that protects you from comment spam. This begs the questions: “What is Comment Spam?” and “Why do you need protecting from it?”

What is Comment Spam?

The bane of bloggers everywhere is an incipient form of spam known as comment spam. Comment spammers will post seemingly genuine comments to your blog posts which praise the quality of your blog post.

Seems harmless, right? It sounds like they love your blog! Unfortunately, you’re being played.

Why Spammers Leave Comments

These commenters will include links to sketchy-sounding websites (such as in the above example) on their commenting profiles. If comments are approved and published, they will provide that sketchy website with a backlink – which is an essential criteria in Google’s famous PageRank algorithm.

The more comments they leave (and which you and other bloggers approve to be published), the higher their sketchy website could rank on Google organic searches. It doesn’t matter to them if no one ever clicks on their link – just the fact that it is published on your site could be enough to generate higher organic rankings – and thus, more organic traffic.

The Real Annoyance

While you can moderate comments to prevent spammy comments from being automatically published, comment moderation can start to take a lot of time. Over time, you might start getting hundreds of comments a weeek – all of which need to be manually moderated. That’s when spammy comments can really start to become a major annoyance.

Manually deleting comments is no fun at all. It takes time away that you could be using to create more awesome content!

Enter Akismet

Akismet will automatically send obvious comment spam into instant obscurity so you won’t have to give it a second thought. You won’t be bothered by 99.9% of comment spam again – and if Akismet isn’t quite sure whether a comment is spam or not – it will give you the choice and let you decide.

Sound like a good deal? Ok – let’s get it hooked up!

Activate Akismet

Akismet is pre-installed as a plugin for every UNI blog that we’ve created for this class. You’ll just need to activate it by clicking on the blue “Activate” link in your Plugins directory.

Once you activate the Akismet plugin, you’ll need to set up your account. This is a little tricky, so follow along closely!

Log in to Akismet using Google

Akismet uses account logins to authenticate – but we are not using and the last thing we need is yet another account to keep track of. Fortunately, you can also authenticate with a Google account – first click on “Already have a account? Log in now.” link at the bottom of this page:

Ok, so that was a lie – we don’t have a account. But look at the next page – it gives you the option to log in with your Google account at the bottom of the page!

Name Your Price

Choose a pricing plan. When you get rich and famous you can get a commercial account and give Akismet big bucks for protecting you from comment spam. For now, just choose the Personal “Name Your Price” plan.

On the next page, it will allow you to name your price. Since you are a student and your blog is not a commercial business, choose $0.

Activate Your Site and Enter Your API Key

Logged in? Good. Now you’ll be asked to “activate” your site and may need to enter your blog URL. Once you do so, you will receive your very own Akismet API key, which you can now enter in WordPress:

Enter your API key and click “Connect with API key”. Akismet will now be active and will start blocking spam immediately. If you’re curious, you can check in from time to time and see just how much spam Akismet is blocking.

Three Reasons to Join AAF (American Advertising Federation) at UNI

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) is the only national organization that includes members across all disciplines and career levels in the advertising industry. In addition to professional chapters all across the country in every major metropolitan area, AAF also has hundreds of college chapters – including one right here at UNI.

If you’re a UNI student with a passion for advertising, digital media, and creative ideas, here are three big reasons why AAF is the best student organization for you.

3. You will expand your network of industry professionals

AAF-UNI visiting global agency VML in Kansas City

Why wait until after you graduate to get to know professionals in the advertising industry?  At AAF we believe in making connections now.

  • You’ll visit advertising agencies in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Minneapolis and Chicago.
  • You’ll hear guest speakers from local and regional advertising agencies, tech firms, design studios, and digital agencies.
  • You’ll get to hear a panel of ad pros speak about how they got into the industry at our annual “Meet the Pros” event.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to attend a career fair in Chicago sponsored by global ad agency Leo Burnett.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to learn about advertising internships – including the Stickell Internship program.

2. You’ll work on real advertising campaigns

The district-winning 2015 Pizza Hut NSAC team from UNI. We placed 13th nationally!

The highlight of our year is working on a national ad campaign for a big name client through AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). NSAC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t want to miss out on. This year, we’ll develop a multimillion campaign for Wienerschnitzel Hot Dogs and pitch it in Kansas City at the District competition. Past clients have included:

  • Pizza Hut
  • Nissan
  • Snapple
  • Ocean Spray Cranberries

1. You’ll make lifelong friends and meet cool new people


The award-winning 2017 Tai Pei NSAC pitch team.

AAF-UNI gives you the opportunity to start making valuable professional connections across a multitude of disciplines that will be beneficial in your career in advertising.

At real ad agencies, creative designers work in teams with business analysts. Social media marketers work with copywriters. AAF gives you the opportunity to work with UNI students in other majors who you’ll likely be working with in the future!

Last Thought

If you think a career in advertising sounds like a blast – you should know something: It is. But you should also know that it’s a tough industry to get into – and you’ll need the experiences, professional contacts, and opportunities that AAF provides to get your foot in the door.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m the faculty advisor for AAF at UNI? ^_^

Like AAF-UNI on Facebook

Learn more about AAF-UNI on our website.

Exporting your UNI Digital Advertising WordPress blog

Some of my #unidigadv students continue their personal branding blog after the project is complete – a few just like to have it online to refer to on their resume or portfolio site.

If you just want to save your blog posts as work samples, you can always simply print them from your web browser as PDF files or use a screen capture app like the Full Page Screen Capture to take full page screenshots of each of your posts.

If you want to transfer your entire blog to a new location, it is easy to export your current blog and import it to another online location where it can live as long as you’d like it to.

This blog post will take you through the steps needed to migrate your WordPress blog from the UNI server to a new location that you will control and maintain.

1. Install the “All-In-One WP Migration” Plugin and Export Your WordPress Blog

Log in to your UNI WordPress account and mouse over the “Plugins” menu – click on the “Add New” option. Search for the All-in-One WP Migration plugin and click Install Now.

Once you have installed the plugin, click “Activate” to make it active. Then it will show up on your side nav bar.

When it does, click on the “Export” option. You should see a dialog box that looks something like this:

The plugin allows you to export to a variety of formats – the easiest is to export as a FILE.

Once you click on Export File, it will take a little time to compress all of your blog’s assets into one downloadable file. Once it is done, you’ll be prompted to download it to your local computer.

Once downloaded, save it in a safe place until you are ready to import it into your new WordPress installation.

If you’re not ready to import it anywhere yet – you can keep this file for future use. But if you’re ready to transfer it to a new WordPress installation, go to step 2!

2. Get a Web Hosting Plan and a domain name (URL)

The next thing you need to do is to get a shared web hosting plan. Shared web hosting means you get space on a shared web server. In addition to your WordPress blog, you could also host other websites for yourself (e.g. a portfolio site), your projects, or for clients.

Dreamhost offers the best shared hosting package that I’ve found. It includes no storage or bandwidth limitations, unlimited domain hosting, and one-click WordPress installations. They also include a free domain registration with an annual plan. For month-to-month billing the cost is $10.95 / month – but if you prepay for 1 or 3 years in advance, the cost comes down to $9.95 or $7.95 a month respectively.

If you Google “Dreamhost coupon” or “dreamhost discount” often you can find special deals on hosting plans that make it even more affordable.

Often hosting plans will include a domain name registration. You’ll want to select a domain that is relevant to your personal brand or your name. Note that many fun Top Level Domains (TLDs) are now available besides the common .COM, .ORG, and .NET.

Once you have a hosting plan and domain in place, you’re ready to install WordPress.

3. Install WordPress

Once you are set up with your Dreamhost account and custom domain, you need to install WordPress. Fortunately, Dreamhost offers a one-click installer for WordPress in the “Goodies” section of their web hosting control panel.

You’ll just need to fill out the domain and subdirectory (if applicable) that you wish to install WordPress into and click “install it for me now”.

For more information on this step, consult Dreamhost’s help article on installing WordPress with a one-click installer.

4. Install the “All-In-One WP Migration” plugin and Import XML file into your new WordPress installation

Log in to your new WordPress installation hosted on your new Dreamhost account. Download, install, and activate the All-in-one WP Migration plugin like you did in step one. Then under the menu click on the “import” option.

Click “Import From File” and navigate to the exported file you created in step one.

It may take a little time, so be patient as it imports.

5. Check your imported content

Generally, I have found that exporting and importing works pretty flawlessly as far as the content goes – but you may have to do a few things to bring your site back to its former perfection:

  • If you used a custom theme, you’ll need to install and apply that theme on your new WordPress installation.
  • If you tweaked your theme’s customization options on the old site, you may need to re-apply those changes manually to your new site.

Once you’ve double-checked that all of your content imported correctly and that your site’s theme looks correct again, you should be good to go.

6. What about your old WordPress site on the UNI server?

UNI IT will automatically remove your old site – there is no need to do anything else on the UNI server.

That’s it! You now have a new WordPress installation with all of your old content running on a shared hosting environment.

How to Customize WordPress Theme Type Styles Using Google Fonts

If you’re using WordPress and want to easily customize the type styles in a pre-built WordPress Theme using the many open source typefaces in Google Fonts, you’ll want to utilize the Easy Google Fonts plugin.

For example, let’s say you’ve installed the Baskerville theme but aren’t crazy about the header typeface. How do you change it?

Using a test site that I created for demonstration purposes, let’s walk through the process.

Find the Style

The first thing you need to do is identify the CSS style that controls that headline text in the HTML file code. If you “view source” on the home page of your blog and search for the words “The awesome test site” you’ll find it in the code:

You’ll notice in the code that the header text “The awesome test site” is surrounded by an H1 tag that contains an inline style assigned the class “blog-title”. To view the current settings for this style, we’ll need to find and view the CSS file for the Baskerville theme.

In the same source code, do another search for the words “.css” to see all of the associated stylesheets on this page.

As you see, there is a stylesheet associated with the Baskerville theme embedded in the HTML code. Click on the link for that CSS code and load it up in a separate tab. Search for the style “blog-title”.

Bingo! There it is. Currently it has assigned the typeface “Pacifico” to the blog title style. Copy the style name here (“.blog-title”).

Create a Font Control

Now we’ll create a custom font control using the Google Fonts plugin that will allow us to modify this style. Back in your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the Google Fonts section under the Settings menu.

Here, you’ll want to create a new font control with the name Blog Title. In the “Add CSS Selectors” box, paste in the exact style name that you copied from the CSS file (i.e. “.blog-title”). Save this font control.

Customize Your Style!

Now if you navigate to the Appearance/Customize/Typography settings, you will see a new option available.

If you click on Theme Typography you should now see the font control you just created. Click “edit font” to modify the settings for this style. All the available Google Fonts will be available in the Font Family menu. I chose a typeface called “Didact Gothic”, which is similar to the Futura typeface.

You should see your changes in real time in the preview pane on the righthand side of the screen. Once you are happy with your typeface choice, save and publish your set. Your blog will now have a custom header typeface!


Use Google Analytics with your WordPress Blog with the MonsterInsights plugin

Google Analytics is used by tens of millions of websites worldwide – it is a free tool to help you track and analyze the traffic on your WordPress blog or website. This post will guide you step-by-step through the process of setting up a Google Analytics account and connecting it to start tracking your WordPress blog traffic using the very awesome MonsterInsights WordPress plugin.

You’ll need to have a functioning WordPress site available at a public URL to complete these steps. Note that these instructions are for installations using platform – not the commercial version at

Ok, so let’s do this!

1. Create a Google Analytics Account

(If you already have one, skip to step 2)

Creating a Google Analytics account is quick, easy, and free. You’ll need to navigate your browser to and log in using a Google account.

2. Create a Web Property

Once you have signed in, you’ll need five key pieces of information to create your first web property to monitor using Google Analytics:

  • An account name (e.g. “Matthew’s Sites”)
  • Your website name (e.g. “UNI Digital Advertising Blog”)
  • Your website URL (e.g. “”)
  • An industry category (Pick one that fits)
  • Your time zone (Central Time)

Once you have your web property created, you will be assigned a Tracking ID by Google. This Tracking ID is all you will need to connect your WordPress blog.

Write down your tracking ID and open a new tab. Navigate to your WordPress blog and sign in.

3. Configure the MonsterInsights plugin

Now we will configure the MonsterInsights plugin in WordPress (If you don’t have this plugin, you’ll need to install it into your version of WordPress).

For UNI Digital Advertising students, this plugin is pre-installed for you – you can find it by clicking on “Insights” at the bottom of the left navigation menu.

You’ll have to authenticate your Google account to be able to configure Google Analytics to track your blog and to access your web property from WordPress.

Authentication involves signing in to your Google Account and pasting the authentication code into the MonsterInsights dialog box, then clicking “next”.


Once you have pasted the code and clicked “next”, you’ll choose the web property you want to associate with your WordPress blog. Choose the web property you just set up.


Cool – Google Analytics should be tracking your blog now!

4. Confirm that Google Analytics is Working Correctly

This is a fun one – kind of the equivalent of looking in the mirror to see if you’re really there.  Go back to Google Analytics and select the “Real Time” clock icon on the left hand navigational menu.

Click on the Real-Time “Overview”.  Now open a new browser tab and navigate to your blog url (the one you are trying to track).  Once your blog’s home page loads up, go back to Google Analytics tab and look at the real time overview report.  You should see this:

Nice work.  You’re watching yourself read your own blog.  This proves that it works and that everything is set up correctly.  You’re done – go do something fun, like find animated GIFs of people clapping!

If you see 0 active users – something is not right.  Go back to step three.

Update: You can also use the excellent Google Tag Assistant Chrome plugin or the Ghostery browser extension to check to ensure that the Google Analytics code is properly working.