SEO Certification - Is There Any Value to It?

40 comments

Jim Hedger wrote an article at Search Engine Guide highlighting two SEO certification programs from the Society of Internet Professionals and SEOPros.

What do you think of the idea of SEO qualifying bodies? Are they necessary? Will they be far more respected than something like SEMPO?

Comments

Best certification

It should be results and time in rankings based vs how many characters in a title bs.

If you have 10 clients in the top 5 results for for terms with 20 million competing and have been there for over a year... etc

Sounds like

Just another thing to help some self appointed SEO "experts" justify charging people a few thousand dollars to make up a 3 page website because they are certified.

So you are saying you have

results and time in rankings

So you are saying you have to prove you have the skills before you would consider someone qualified.

Now here is a question...lets say I have a fat stack of cash and just outright buy a top ranked site. Does that count?

Whoa, Aaron! Stop talking

lets say I have a fat stack of cash and just outright buy a top ranked site. Does that count?

Whoa, Aaron! Stop talking about Google's biggest algorithm problem! :)

silly

The SIP one just sounds dumb.

The SEOpros one...isn't that something they were gonna do like 3 years ago, but never did? I think this is really, really old news unless they're somehow resurrecting it without telling anyone.

Comical

I still would like to know on what authority SEMPO and SEOPros consider themselves qualifying bodies?

Until there is a .EDU at the end of their domain names, I don't think they have much of a chance of considering themselves qualified for anything of the sort.

They don't

Quote:
I still would like to know on what authority SEMPO and SEOPros consider themselves qualifying bodies?

I don't believe that SEMPO does consider themselves that, which is why they don't offer certification.

Sorry about that Jill

Plugged in SEMPO without thinking (good catch Jill).... However I still don't see any body that would have enough market support to be considered an authority.

The only true authority in this game is the search engines, in my opinion they are the only ones that could assign any sort of certification.

I read that article over the weekend and...

thought to myself, "What's the point?" By the time you shell out the cash... I mean take the tests... to get certified there'll be something new to be certified in... since search engines and search engine optimization are not static. Many of the conversations surrounding the "TextBook SEO" debate, highlighted that what once worked yesterday does not work today. So then you'd need to get re-certified every year... every few months... every.... So can someone who was certified once continue to say they are certified? I just don't get it...

Whoa, Aaron! Stop talking

Whoa, Aaron! Stop talking about Google's biggest algorithm problem! :)

I thought that was doorway page subdomain spam

The whole idea

is a joke, including SEMPO.

Scoreboard, Baby! That's all that matters.

Until Google or the other

Until Google or the other players come up with a MCSE or a CCE or a RHCE (like never), each one's value, is solely the portfolio.

It's kinda hard

to take an organization seriously about seo standards when they can't even use a
standards compliant site to promote the idea.

Lol man ..

Lol man ..

If you have a look in their HTML code, you will see the meta description tag twice, the letter "t" somwhere in the upper-left part of the website, hoovering in the background, inline css all over, font tags ...

I guess web standards is like far far away. They have to deal with the basic seo and html 4.1 issues first.

And :

Photos of SIP Participation
- Voice On The Net-
- Linux and Networld-
- Search Engine Strategy -

It's Strategies LOL ...

How?

How can you certify snake oil?

That would be like certifying Bone Daddy's margarita mix as the best when some hate it.

Ok, cinco de mayo leftover...

Dreamweaver

Does any one else consider Dreamweaver to hinder your efforts at SEO? Looking at sipgroup you see such beauties as

<style type="text/css">
<!--
.style3 {font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif}
-->
</style>
t
<style type="text/css">
<!--
.style15 {font-family: "Trebuchet MS"}
-->
</style>

If you look closely you see that that is the source of the mysterious "t". In other news, here is a question that drives me up the wall repeatedly:

I have worked for a handful of companies that require substantial changes to their websites both in terms of standardization and over-all layout; usually conversion from HTML 4.0 tables to CSS 2. This, of course, requires editing a great number of pages repeatedly.

None of these organizations have any form of software version control, such as CVS, which is *so* prevalent in the software world but so lacking in web design. All of these orgs use Dreamweaver. All of the people I have to deal with blame all concurrency issues (where one person overwrites the other's changes) on me for not using Dreamweaver (which doesn't have much options to prevent this) while I know it is because they do not use CVS. Thus, we basically co-exist by shouting across the room that we are editing this file at this time and plz stop all work and resync in 1/2 an hour.

What's your solutions? I waste entire days having to resync my work after coworkers overwrite it and as the new guy i can't just demand change either.

Actually, I believe

Actually, I believe Dreamweaver has a feature that enables checking in/out of files, meaning that one person *cannot* overwrite another's changes, so that might actually solve the problem. As well, one can hand-code in Dreamweaver (and might get quite happy with DW's ability to "guess" what tags you're typing -- makes fast work of lots of coding). Anyway, I'm just saying ...

Yeah...never checkout so the

Yeah...never checkout so the putzs can't screw you over. Make them have to request your permission to change a file.

I noticed the Dreamweaver

I noticed the Dreamweaver specific comments too. I did not picked on that because i actually use DW too, sometimes, and it's a good tool.

Dreamweaver

i actually use DW too, sometimes, and it's a good tool

... for hand coding! Hehehe

that's all I use it for.

Certifications are just a

Certifications are just a money making scam, everybody knows that. By the way if anybody wants to get certified at burrito wrapping pay $500 and i'll teach you and even give you a certificate.

SEO certification

DW is an expensive wysiwyg tool. If used properly, it is probably a good tool for non-professionals.

Considering that less than 1% of the 10 billion indexed web pages are valid web pages, follow web standards, it appears that the popular DW tool isn't being used properly (this page that you are reading bares (or is it bears) approximately 98 warnings).

Valid web pages are relatively easy to achieve. Unfortunately, though many, many people have worked hard in providing us with the W.W.W. platform and in setting web standards (Berners-Lee & company), their efforts, to date, have been squashed by the masses.

And, without the W.W.W., you would be where!?! Y'all got your work cut out!

I would suspect that most of y'all are concerned with commercial or business web sites.

Most places of business (potential clients) have no clue what is/isn't a valid web page. The facts bear (or is it bare) that 'professionals' have no clue what is/isn't a valid web page. That's bad (black hat) web design money!

Hence, certification, validation, and, standards.

Most industries have established standards, accredations. The electronic industry recently passed a global standard that no electronic diode or component can be (legally) sold if it contains lead. This is to prevent YOU from getting lead posioning after you suck on, bite into, chew on, and lick your iPODs or cell phones. It's a worthy certification, hey?

This SEO phenomena is similar to DW. It's a wysiwyg tool and as well, it can be used properly, or not.

To date, the facts bear (or is it bare) that it is not. At least, from the perspective of a potential client. I'm telling you, set some standards that which are digestible by us, your clients, and your life(s) would be so much easier.

There is too much lead in seo/sem at this date. It's poison. My money stays better spent elsewhere.

Even Google, to date, has the BEST web pages regarding seo. They ain't purty~!

Seo cannot even agree upon a standard definition of its industry, its services. I've read it all, millions of words. It's a hodge-podge without direction. If y'all lucky, y'all will pocket a few black hat bucks. If not, y'all try to act as if we clients were born (or is it borne) at night, last night. Apparently, some were!

Here is how a knowledgeable client selects an individual (person or company) for web page optimization for search engines:

(1) As many of us did, here, in this case, look at the seo's web site (the source doc). Is it valid? Today, that will knockout about 99.9% of all acclaimed seo.

(2) Mr. Cutts claims that there are 100 factors in web page ranking on Google.

What are they and what is their order of importance?

That will knockout about 0.099% of seo, today.

(3) There are two major, critical components involved in searching web pages:

a) the search engine itself
b) the web pages themselves

Hence, are you, seo, in daily, weekly, or monthly, communique with the likes of Mr. Larry Page (Page not Cutts)?

Not!?!

Okay, then, that knocks out the remaining 0.001%.

Do the math. That leaves 0.00% seo who have a chance of earning white hat, honest bucks from us clients. (See Google's seo web pages.)

With all the big names, good people, in your industry, I would think that y'all would get together and establish a professional industry. At least, I would hope from a client's perspective. You have a great opportunity to cash in, wear the white hat, and provide a certified, honest service for clients. Keep in mind that there are over 24,000,000 small businesses in the USA alone, waiting for y'all to bare it all~!!!

They are STILL waiting. Where are y'all!?!

I would suggest that you start with a phone call to Larry and Company. Let him & company know that High School is out!

Don't let his 12 billion plus intimidate you. Gates can buy him out over tea and cake.

Money is cheap, as we see, it is had. Professional search engine optimization is yet to be had. Now that's worth something.

BTW, iPODS (or cell phones) cost about 2 bucks. If you own one and didn't steal it, win it, or get it from Santa's Claws, you've been SEO'd, lead-free!

No. I don't have either. Don't need 'em.

Y'all have a GREAT opportunity here. Doit cool, doit right, doit professionally.

It will payoff~!

G'day and Get it Certified,
vladimirallen

If you have 10 clients in

Quote:
If you have 10 clients in the top 5 results for for terms with 20 million competing and have been there for over a year... etc

I absolutely agree with this, Mike, but how do you show what you've done if you've signed a confidentiality agreement?

I've never completely found a way around this issue, and I'd appreciate suggestions.

Silly, silly, silly

Quote:
Do the math. That leaves 0.00% seo who have a chance of earning white hat, honest bucks from us clients. (See Google's seo web pages.)

With all the big names, good people, in your industry, I would think that y'all would get together and establish a professional industry. At least, I would hope from a client's perspective. You have a great opportunity to cash in, wear the white hat, and provide a certified, honest service for clients. Keep in mind that there are over 24,000,000 small businesses in the USA alone, waiting for y'all to bare it all~!!!

That's got to be the silliest thing I've read today.

Anybody ever been asked by a

Anybody ever been asked by a prospect (or existing client) if you're certified to do SEO?

Didn't think so......

The Anti-SEO Certification

OK, so you can't prove you're a decent one, but you can prove you're not stupid ;-) Have a bunch of questions designed to gauge their beliefs in things that are proven not to work, or even proven to be determintal. For instance,

Which is not optimal for ranking well in Google:

  • <meta name="keywords" content="widget widget widget wiget widget widget widget">
  • <meta name="keywords" content="widget, widget listings">

Have employers give that to their employees on site so they can't fudget it later :-)

but you can prove...

<div="for google" content="don't show to humans"> eyword
kyword
keword
keyord
keywrd
keywod
keywor
kkeyword
keeyword
keyyword
keywword
keywoord
keyworrd
keywordd
ekyword
kyeword
kewyord
keyowrd
keywrod
keywodr
jeyword
ieyword
oeyword
leyword
meyword
kwyword
k3yword
k4yword
kryword
kfyword
kdyword
ksyword
ketword
ke6word
ke7word
keuword
kejword
kehword
kegword
keyqord
key2ord
key3ord
keyeord
keydord
keysord
keyaord
keywird
keyw9rd
keyw0rd
keywprd
keywlrd
keywkrd
keywoed
keywo4d
keywo5d
keywotd
keywogd
keywofd
keywodd
keywors
keywore
keyworr
keyworf
keyworc
keyworx
jkeyword
kjeyword
ikeyword
kieyword
okeyword
koeyword
lkeyword
kleyword
mkeyword
kmeyword
kweyword
kewyword
k3eyword
ke3yword
k4eyword
ke4yword
kreyword
keryword
kfeyword
kefyword
kdeyword
kedyword
kseyword
kesyword
ketyword
keytword
ke6yword
key6word
ke7yword
key7word
keuyword
keyuword
kejyword
keyjword
kehyword
keyhword
kegyword
keygword
keyqword
keywqord
key2word
keyw2ord
key3word
keyw3ord
keyeword
keyweord
keydword
keywdord
keysword
keywsord
keyaword
keywaord
keywiord
keywoird
keyw9ord
keywo9rd
keyw0ord
keywo0rd
keywpord
keywoprd
keywlord
keywolrd
keywkord
keywokrd
keywoerd
keywored
keywo4rd
keywor4d
keywo5rd
keywor5d
keywotrd
keywortd
keywogrd
keyworgd
keywofrd
keyworfd
keywodrd
keywordd
keyworsd
keywords
keywored
keyworde
keyworrd
keywordr
keyworfd
keywordf
keyworcd
keywordc
keyworxd
keywordx
ey word
ky word
ke word
key ord
key wrd
key wod
key wor
kkey word
keey word
keyy word
key wword
key woord
key worrd
key wordd
eky word
kye word
ke yword
key owrd
key wrod
key wodr
keyword
jey word
iey word
oey word
ley word
mey word
kwy word
k3y word
k4y word
kry word
kfy word
kdy word
ksy word
ket word
ke6 word
ke7 word
keu word
kej word
keh word
keg word
key qord
key 2ord
key 3ord
key eord
key dord
key sord
key aord
key wird
key w9rd
key w0rd
key wprd
key wlrd
key wkrd
key woed
key wo4d
key wo5d
key wotd
key wogd
key wofd
key wodd
key wors
key wore
key worr
key worf
key worc
key worx
jkey word
kjey word
ikey word
kiey word
okey word
koey word
lkey word
kley word
mkey word
kmey word
kwey word
kewy word
k3ey word
ke3y word
k4ey word
ke4y word
krey word
kery word
kfey word
kefy word
kdey word
kedy word
ksey word
kesy word
kety word
keyt word
ke6y word
key6 word
ke7y word
key7 word
keuy word
keyu word
kejy word
keyj word
kehy word
keyh word
kegy word
keyg word
key qword
key wqord
key 2word
key w2ord
key 3word
key w3ord
key eword
key weord
key dword
key wdord
key sword
key wsord
key aword
key waord
key wiord
key woird
key w9ord
key wo9rd
key w0ord
key wo0rd
key wpord
key woprd
key wlord
key wolrd
key wkord
key wokrd
key woerd
key wored
key wo4rd
key wor4d
key wo5rd
key wor5d
key wotrd
key wortd
key wogrd
key worgd
key wofrd
key worfd
key wodrd
key wordd
key worsd
key words
key wored
key worde
key worrd
key wordr
key worfd
key wordf
key worcd
key wordc
key worxd
key wordx </div>

:)

ouch

that hurt, Aaron. Please don't do it again. Thanks.

Quote:
The electronic industry recently passed a global standard that no electronic diode or component can be (legally) sold if it contains lead. This is to prevent YOU from getting lead posioning after you suck on, bite into, chew on, and lick your iPODs or cell phones. It's a worthy certification, hey?

huh? It keeps lead out of the environment. Good job.

Anyway I don't hire an IT director because of his systems admin skillz, and I don't hire an SEO for her SEO skillz. I hire an SEO because she knows what to tell the designers and coders and sysadmins to do to make my site rank at the top. Sometimes she's also a good coder or designer or copywriter, but that's an added bonus.

The only people who care about this discussion are people who hire staff based on resume. The rest of us interview. If you've been there, you know what I mean.

Clients say "What have you done for me lately?"

SEO Certification may give the "warm and fuzzies" to some prospective clients (not as much, if they're "recycled"), but most want a way to get "references" without asking the prospective SEO for them. I like Todd Malicoat's idea to check on past SEO performance that I blogged about in:
http://www.brokerblogger.com/brokerblogger/2006/04/a_google_top_ra.html (not looking for link love, just trying to communicate the idea)

As for future SEO performance client reassurances, the bottom line is how much financial risk the SEO is willing to share that can be realistically evaluated by some kind of agreed upon perfomance metric.
Otherwise, SEO Certification may seem like some kind of "Monk-e-mail" link

On Validation & Certification

Validation

Valid code doesn't make you any money - therefore it is nugatory work making your pages validate.

Certification

When even a degree makes absolutely no difference to your job prospects after you've worked for a couple of years, why should you consider an SEO certification which is going to be no where near as difficult to obtain.

Standards Organisations

Staffed by jobsworths lining their own pockets.

Professional Bodies

Staffed by people whose careers are on the wane, who can eek out another few years of milking clients by dropping memberships and positions within the professional body when talking to said clients.

>> the bottom line is how

>> the bottom line is how much financial risk the SEO is willing to share

Funny thing, I've found it hard to get clients to agree to uncapped payment contracts... because if I'm taking a share of the financial risk, I sure as hell want a share of the financial reward too, and in some cases (none of my clients, sadly) that could potentially be millions

>> You have a great opportunity to cash in, wear the white hat, and provide a certified, honest service for clients.

Interesting perspective... but with a few exceptions "cash in" and "wear the white hat" seem to be mutually exclusive. there's only room for a handful of top consultants to the FTSE 100 / Fortune 500 (and even then, theres the occasional grey, or outright black hat moment) - anyone else who wants to really monetise their skills (like £10's of '000's / month) pretty much HAS to go BH to some extent, and probably for themselves.

I'm also confused as to how SEO can be "certified" realistically. Electronic components are highly comoditised, SEO is almost totally bespoke. Resistors haven't changed much since the day they were invented, SEO changes on a weekly, at most monthly timescale, sometimes quite radically. Any syllabus written today would be useless by the time it was examined - all that stays the same is the basic principles

I'd have to say that I've generally found clients themselves tend to be the biggest hurdle to SEO success - they don't mean to be, and there are a few who are really good, really "get it", but they tend not to be clients very long - they become the competition :)

I am with Kali

I have never trusted most organizations to be very pure. Call it military experience. Call it doing well at seo without org backing (but help from lots of awesome friends).

I like some of the people in some of the SEO orgs (like Dan Thies or Mikkel), but some of the other people that are in them are people I wouldn't trust, especially after dealing with some of them (I think the person I am refering to knows who they are). And when you put things in an org the groupthink stuff just kills innovation.

How the hell can you test people on their creativity? To me a large part of SEO is creativity or pattern recognition. I just don't see how any org can teach you to be creative.

Great point!

Quote:
How the hell can you test people on their creativity? To me a large part of SEO is creativity or pattern recognition. I just don't see how any org can teach you to be creative.

Great point, Aaron!

Here is the stuff I think

Here is the stuff I think orgs do...

give people things like basic membership logos
http://www.minnesota-seo-company.com/image/Image1.gif
that drive targeted traffic back to the mother site (are there others who are BETTER than basic?) which recommends founding members, board members, and high spender sites at the expense of all the smaller players who offer up free marketing to the people who are already industry leaders or people who are using / abusing the ignorance of people new to the market.

SEO Certification - Not Going to Happen

The responses to the original post are a clear indication of why SEO Certification is not going to happen anytime soon. Until there is one organization who is seen as a trustworthy authority on the subject, it just won't happen. And, since that organization would have to have a high level of expertise in this industry, it will be seen as some sort of promotional tool. Trust me, I've been there, done that. We've posed the question to our membership over the years and the responses have been positive but, the amount of money, manpower, lobbying, etc. would not be worth it. If there are any VCs reading this, you'd have a gold mine if you were able to develop such an organization.

Search Engine Marketing Standards

Quote:
Until there is a .EDU at the end of their domain names, I don't think they have much of a chance of considering themselves qualified for anything of the sort.

That isn't going to happen, especially with the restrictive guidelines now in place for use of the .edu TLD.

Quote:
To take an organization seriously about seo standards when they can't even use a standards compliant site to promote the idea.

lol! 95% of SEOs don't know what a standards compliant site is. ;)

Quote:
Valid code doesn't make you any money - therefore it is nugatory work making your pages validate.

lol again, that's an oxymoron!

I'd have to disagree with that last one. The benefits of valid code are far reaching.

Go on then...

Quote:
I'd have to disagree with that last one. The benefits of valid code are far reaching.

Explain the benefits to me and if I think they will be profitable I'll start producing valid code on a day to day basis.

Yeah Edward...

Whatever happened to your guest TW post on the importance of valid code?

Nope!

Quote:
Explain the benefits to me and if I think they will be profitable I'll start producing valid code on a day to day basis.

Absolutely not! I'm through explaining the benefits of valid code to this industry. :)

There are those who subscribe to valid code, and those who don't. It doesn't necessarily mean you are lacking in your skills as an SEO. What it does mean is that you may have some issues in your coding that are affecting your SEO skills.

Before SEO Certification can be discussed, someone has to first develop a set of standards and guidelines. You can't put the cart before the horse. ;)

Quote:
Whatever happened to your guest TW post on the importance of valid code?

Aaron, I'm still waiting for the spidered results to be compiled. The technical aspects of that are being handled by another member here at TW.

But, while we are waiting, this is a good start...

http://www.w3.org/QA/2002/07/WebAgency-Requirements

friggen amazing discussion

wow. I thought it was sort of a throw-away piece on a lazy Friday, hence the smart-assed headline, "Certify Me".

Amazing discussion.

The only people whose opinions matter on this matter is the search marketing practitioners themselves. I hope the folks behind the two initiatives are reading this thread.

SEO Certification

Trying to get SEO's to agree on a certification authority will be like herding cats. It usually takes an act of government to create a certification program for a profession. Do we really want big brother regulating our industry?

We have professional groups that can create standards of ethics. If somebody does something bad, we can throw them out. That's good enough.

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