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Google is expanding its product line with the enthusiasm of a 17 year old with a fake ID, but it still makes most of its cash from marketers. 27/31sts, as a matter of fact.

So why would Google build a free marketing course? Well, for every small business owner and novice marketer that completes it, Google score themselves a worthy advocate.

Honestly, Google will soon be to marketing technology what Google is to search engines. If it isn’t already.

Get on board.

What is the course?

The Google Digital Marketing course teaches the absolute basics of online marketing. You’ll learn when you need a website, how you might use social media, and the basics of search engine optimisation, Google advertising, and local search.

The course takes a familiar format. Each lesson features a video with a very slow speaking actor. A single question quiz after each video and a topic test every few wins you a badge. Score 26 for a certificate!

Well, a pdf. It’s not a real certificate.

The Google Digital Garage Cliff’s notes

The course covered a lot of ground, but there was no way it could go deep. 10-20 hours of work gets you a solid understanding of the various facets of digital marketing. Even if you’re not totally sure what each one entails.

Here are the eight modules, with my comments on each.

  • Taking a business online – A basic intro topic. Useful if you’re fresh out of the ground, but not that useful otherwise. Feel free to test out if you can.
  • Make it easy for people to find a business on the web – Actually not bad. Reasonably deep dive into search engine visibility and online advertising. This is a good module.
  • Reach more people locally, on social media, or on mobile – This is the next really valuable module. It covers local search, which thanks mostly to Google is becoming super important in doing business online. The social and mobile lessons are also good.
  • Reach more customers with advertising – Ah, the soft sell! Decent coverage of the basics of search and display advertising, but stops short of discussing any specific tools or tactics.
  • Track and measure web traffic – Pretty brief introduction to analytics. I’m not sure how useful this would have been for me if I wasn’t already using Google Analytics everyday.
  • Sell products or services online – Very basic coverage of ecommerce. Too vague to be particularly relevant to me, and it wouldn’t go into enough depth to actually be useful to an ecommerce business.
  • Take a business global – This felt like lesson stuffing honestly. Nothing in the last two modules is wrong or bad, just not very useful without more detail.

Admittedly, the course doesn’t claim to be a marketing degree, nor should it be one. However, the lack of detail in the final modules will frustrate curious learners.

What does the course does well

Despite my complaints, I really like this course. The topics were dry, but still accessible.

What I really liked was the localisation – I had Australian actors and local case studies. Both actors were very white, but I can overlook that for now.

What Digital Garage could do better

This is a breadth course, aimed to get new marketers up to speed, or small businesses online. If you’re curious like me, jump into a more specific course once you’re done.

Unfortunately, this course doesn’t put you on that path, which would be useful. In fact, the whole course could make better use of external resources to make up for its lack of depth.

Who is the Google Digital Garage course for?

A week after I finished this course, I recommended it to a friend who just scored a marketing gig with a not for profit. She was a journalist like I was, so had great communication and writing skills, but was new to marketing. The course was perfect for her.

If you’re new to marketing or want to take your small business online, do this course. If you dream of making extra cash online, do this course. If you want to better understand how money is made online, this course is a good start.

Has the course helped me yet?

I did the course six months after my switch from journalism to marketing, still a marketing noob. I wrote this review over the following weeks, so I don’t have a lot of data to go on.

For what it’s worth, I did get a HR bot offer me an interview the day after I put the certificate on Linkedin. That’s only happen a few times for me.

And I apparently appeared in a search for a Google employee. But I also appeared in searches from City of Darwin and the Australian Tax Office staff. So I’m not reading into that.

So no, it hasn’t done a lot for me yet, but that’s not why I did the course. I did it for a minor bona fide I could put on my Linkedin, and to fill in some jargon gaps.

Should you take the course?

If you read this far down then yes, you should do the course. If you’re interested enough to do this much research, then you might as well go and finish the course itself.

Do yourself a favour. Stop reading reviews like this. Instead of getting other’s opinions, get your own. Put the certificate on your Linkedin when you’re done and wait for the HR bots to roll in.