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Google announced today that they are making some pretty big changes to the Google Advertising Professionals program.

One of the biggest is a change in name. In early 2004, Google launched “Google Advertising Professionals Program.” As of today, it will be known by the “Google AdWords Certification Program.” This change will offer more training materials, more challenging certification exams, and other advanced exams that will test search, display, and reporting/analysis. It will also provide a certified individual or company a redesigned Certified Partner badge.

There are a handful of us at SEO.com who are currently certified. What this means for us — and others who want to be certified — is we now need to pass 2 exams. Companies that want to be certified need to have at least one person in their organization who is certified and have a minimum spend of $10,000 per quarter.

Another welcomed change is one that was previously known as the “AdWords Professional Search.” The AdWords Professional Search went live in December of last year without much notice. Google is now relaunching this service under the new name of “Google Partner Search.” Here you can search for Google AdWords Certified organizations to manage your PPC campaigns and search engine marketing strategy.

Lastly, Google has also changed the pricing for the AdWords API usage structure. The new preferred pricing section will take you through a process to see if you qualify. This, however, will not be available for another month and will launch May 26. This means some developers will get free API units based on the client spend they manage. A company is eligible to apply for the preferred pricing program if it is a Google AdWords Certified Partner and their AdWords API-based tools is in full compliance with the AdWords API terms & conditions that are set forth. More information about this can be found at the AdWords API Blog.