|Fully Certified SEO|
What certifying organization did that come from?
Okay, time for me to let off some steam. I'm seeing a new breed of marketer hit the mainstream and I'm a bit concerned for the unsuspecting consumer.
I see quite a few touting SEO Certifications these days. First, let me preface this topic by stating that "there are no certifying bodies" in our industry, none, nada, nunya. There are plenty of training outlets but none of them have been accepted by the industry as an official certifying agency. What does that mean? That means that the certifications are worth about as much as the paper they are printed on.
I just reviewed a website that had "Fully Certified" smacked all over it. You know what? I am very concerned for the consumer of SEO/SEM services who may end up in the hands of one of these "Fully Certified SEO's".
I'll admit that "they" were trying to do the right thing but totally missed the boat. I'm going to guess they were a web design firm first and SEO/SEM came as an afterthought. The "speak" was there but that is as far as it went. One look at the site, its, structure, the source, and the "Fully Certified SEO" turned out to be an oxymoron.
So, what exactly does "Fully Certified" mean? I'm from the camp that believe you are only as good as those doing the certifying. If what I saw this morning is any indication of what is being taught, then we have some major challenges afoot in our industry. These people have no business providing certifications that are not accepted by the industry as a whole.
You know what else this does? You have all these so-called "Fully Certified" individuals out there doing things that "your" peers know are not right. We look at that stuff, then we look at who is providing these certifications and its a smack in your face. Any credibility that certifcation might have had is gone.
So, what's your take on this new breed of marketer? And, if you are one of these certifying agencies, how does it make you feel to see topics like this arise knowing that it is a major black eye for your organization and our industry?
People are confusing Certificate of Completion with Certified which in turn is becoming a Certification.
I'm an in-house SEO, having learned on the job (I was doing marketing before) and in the past couple of years I've had a lot of contact with various agencies in different countries touting their SEO solutions. I've always been quite shocked at the proportion of charlatans I've come across in the industry, especially all the guys coming in assuming I'd just be a normal marketer and be easily duped by their false promises and bizarre solutions. There is something about SEO that remains a bit "magical" to lots of marketers, not to mention normal business people, and I think whatever can be done to make the techniques more concrete and understandable to ordinary business people is a good thing.
With that in mind, I think some industry-standard documentation, certification, etc. would be great, but only if it demystified SEO and actually provided some concrete reassurance to businesses that the people touting such 'certification' actually have some expertise. My impression is that this is what SEMPO tries to do, but I'm not sure how successfully. If the certification programs just give credibility to witch doctors, then we're worse off than before.
I'm preparing a fairly lengthy article on this particular subject. In the process, I do believe I've found the only "offical" SEO Certification out there. If I find more, I'll post them here...
LOL pageone...very funny.
I commonly hear people say something along the lines of "Yea, there should be SEO licensing or certification or something, just as is the case with the professions: law, accounting, engineering, medical..."
The problem with such statments is that people are mistakenly drawing parallels where few or none exist. Put another way, the supposition that there should be some SEO licensing and certification is not grounded in how the real world works. There are better and more close-in professions to learn from when thinking about how SEO training and knowledge should advance (namely, business and marketing).
The professions are largely governed by law and/or science, born from centuries of trial, error and growing bodies of evidence and hard information. If a medical professional approaches an intubated patient and cleans the mouth first and lung second with the same device, we know bacterial infections are likely to ensue. This is a medically proven fact.
But SEO is not like law or medical science. SEO is a branch of Internet marketing which is a branch of marketing, and you will note that there are no meaningful marketing licensing bodies either.
Why? Because marketing learning is achieved by a combination of:
- Education (i.e., eading theories, evaluating models, reviewing case studies, etc),
- Real world experience (where most of the really good stuff is gleaned),
- Networking (from personal networking to professional associations), and perhaps most importantly,
- Personal creativity (which cannot be licensed and is difficult at best even to teach.
...and "certification" is best acheived by achieving real world success.
In health care I want a doctor from a top medical school not a no-name school I've never heard of. That med school diploma matters and there's a reason it's on the wall in the doctor's office. In marketing I want an ad agency or an SEO/SEM firm that has acheived notoriety, success (in whatever way I care to measure it), and with an operating style that fits the needs of my company.
Most of the best marketing people instinctively roll their eyes at the notion of a licensing or certification organization, because they intuitively know that great marketing is as much inspiration and creativity as science, and as such, any body trying to license or certify people in fields like marketing would connect in only tenuous and insignficiant ways to what's taking place in the real world. What you end up with as a result is a bunch of pompous and clueless self-promoters trying to tell the people who really know what's going on how to behave.
Let's stop the silly conversation about licensensing creativity and inspiration simply because we can't be bothered to do our homework and find the good firms out there, and leave the creation of authoritative governing bodies to the lawyers, accountants and medical professionals.
What if the certification came from the search engines themselves? More like an 'skilled practitioner' type of label, like you get for Adwords or Microsoft, saying basically that you know how to use particular industry-standard tools and have a good understanding of the search engine's individual guidelines. It wouldn't guarantee that you will apply that knowledge, or that you will be good at SEO, just that you've been trained and tested on particular knowledge.
Or, what if there were some international group/association that required submission of a dossier of sample work and peer review before being able to join? Then being able to say you were in that club would give you something like a stamp of approval from peers.
Just tossing out ideas here. I agree that there is no official certifying board for marketers and for good reason, but don't you think that marketing in general is a bit more comprehensible to the average business person than SEO is? I mean, when you start explaining even some basic elements of SEO to average business people after a few minutes their eyes tend to glaze over. And they ask all these random questions that show how little they understand the 'magic' of the engines, even if they are great at marketing in general. Another particularity of SEO is that you can really get your domain in big trouble (ie lose a lot of money) if you sign on with someone who spams the engines and gets caught. I think many business people would appreciate some industry guidance on where they are taking risks and where they are relatively safe in that regard.
"I'm seeing a new breed of marketer hit the mainstream and I'm a bit concerned for the unsuspecting consumer." I equally share the concern expressed by pageoneresults, I see a lot of PPC ads coming up on Google with the phrase "Certified SEO" in Title.
Industry experts/leaders like the most respected moderators on this site can come with certain "Industry standards" such as ISO standards, quality guidelines for every process and can use them to devise a training program which will lead to certification.
Caveman sums it all up that the best certification is a track record of success. SEO is really a service and requires experience and creativity as it IS in fact a branch of marketing < branch of internet marketing.
The only component that could possibly (IF EVER) be certified is on-site optimization. Off-site SEO and tactics change consistently, so I just don't see this being certified. It would be a joke.
The thing is, things change fast and a governing body would never be able to keep up with the real world.
So I agree with Caveman about getting real.
Further, there are too many silly people out there who are trash web-design firms, that end up trying to tack on SEO as a service and they ruin stuff, to no end.
seo certification is just as blah as those spam ads people get from them like we will submit your site to 1000 search engines and get you to #1 and etc.... its to fool the person that they are really dealing with a professional.
I'm quite confused about this too. I believe it has something to do with maybe the search engines certifying the SEO Company's practices. I mean, who else could certify them and give the certification any credibility? If it's not the Search ENgines making the certifications, then there is no credibility in my mind.
I'm all for DIY SEO anyhow.
[edited by: pageoneresults at 1:09 am (utc) on Feb. 11, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed URI in Sig - Please Refer to TOS [/edit]
welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com], VestRite!
i think an independent certification would be more useful for seo.
do you think msn/live would show you the best methods to optimize for google serps?
for that matter, imagine google themselves giving out instructions for how to do better than everybody else in their serps.
it's called adwords right now, but i guess they could call it a certification fee some day if they like.
|What if the certification came from the search engines themselves? |
IMO, the search engines DO NOT like SEO's. Think about it, we are coming up with ways to game their algo's in order to make our sites rank higher. This causes them to have to figure out what we are doing and countering that with algo upgrades, site penalties, etc... Of course, most of the methods that we all use are best practices stated by the SE's themselves. With that being said, why would they certify someone for SEO?
[edited by: pageoneresults at 3:59 pm (utc) on Feb. 12, 2008]
[edit reason] Fixed quote. [/edit]
|IMO, the search engines DO NOT like SEO's. |
Hmmm, depends on which side of the fence you're on I guess. ;)
|Think about it, we are coming up with ways to game their algo's in order to make our sites rank higher. |
Personally I wouldn't use the word game. No, we're just following the guidelines and protocol that have already been established for bringing visibility to our client's websites or those of our own. Those guidelines and protocols are definitely relative to the industry in question. ;)
|This causes them to have to figure out what we are doing and countering that with algo upgrades, site penalties, etc. |
I'm not too certain we can classify some of the above in the "SEO" category. SEO at the core is not affected by the whims of the algo and/or penalties, filters, etc.
|Of course, most of the methods that we all use are best practices stated by the SE's themselves. With that being said, why would they certify someone for SEO? |
I don't think it would be in their best interest to do the Certifications unless they were those that are product specific. You know, "This individual and/or company is certified in the implementation and management of the Google Webmaster Tools", stuff like that.
The search engines would of course have representative members within the certifying body but I don't see them becoming one. :)
Maybe they mean they are "fully certifiable" as in koo-koo!...KF :o)
what do you guys think of SEMPO? They are certainly trying to become a certifying organization with their SEMPO Institute courses. Is that the right type of direction: an industry association that offers courses and certificates of completion?
I'm of the opinion that there could be as many different types of seo techniques out on the web as there are pages.
Seo could be played in the same field as fishing or chasing skirts. Everyone has their own angle or take on just how it's done.
The closest you will ever become to being a true seo though, will involve knowing and understanding what good markup is, and combining that markup with your very own content. Knowing and understanding the guidelines put forth by the SE's, and following that knowledge to it's fullest best end result, should be the order of the day.
What? SEO Certification?
Yes you r right I heard Google is offering one ;) Any one buying?
|The closest you will ever become to being a true seo though, will involve knowing and understanding what good markup is, and combining that markup with your very own content. Knowing and understanding the guidelines put forth by the SE's, and following that knowledge to it's fullest best end result, should be the order of the day. |
Not that those things aren't important, but I couldn't agree less. You can have perfect markup, excellent content, and not intentionally "violate guidelines" and still rank nowhere close to being found, or even worse, can still end up with penalties and/or hit filters and not have a clue how to find out what triggered it.
That constitutes being a good web developer and putting up good content, but it isn't SEO.
Of course you'll whip out a cleanly written masterpiece, optimised to the gills, only to realise on the next day, that Google might not like it one bit.
The colour might be wrong, or you're one pixel off the centre mark, or something. It's just got to be something, so here we are with seo.
Bit of a tweak here, and a bit of a tweak there ... Ah yes then, that should do it. Oh, and maybe I might write the title= tag in behind the alt= tag too, so that our Firefox friends can see the description of the image (small example). But still, here we are, and Google still doesn't like it one bit.
Or at least we think.
There's a saying here in the State's that goes kind of like this;
"keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer"
What I take that to mean in the world of seo, is that it might just do you well to keep a keen eye turned toward the spammers, the black hatters, and all else evil that might reside on the net.
Learning about what they do, and how they go about doing it, could easily save you from making a very simple mistake the next time one of your mates sends you and email saying that this, that, or the other, is the thing to do right now.
There are certain nefarious techniques that have crept into the optimisation world over the past years that Google would just as soon be rid of.
We've parused blackhatters for years, and as a result of the knowledge gleened from them, we learned what not to do, and most of our listings are top of the day.
Our clients get found, and that's what matters to us.
Looking at what kinds of abuses happen online with regard to sites in general, and then going back and looking at what Google might expect of you, can give you some really good insight about what's going on.
Google is making a good point here, and as a result, we are putting on some of the best written pages the world has ever seen.
SEO certifications are a scam because
1. se algo's are private and always evolving
2. there are no standards to follow; just a collection of opinions
3. you could be #1 today and removed from the index tommorow without any warning
How would you respond to a client that paid you $5000 for seo services and their website is completely gone from all indicies after 6 months of wonderful first page rankings?
Would they sue you?
Would you be in a panic and contact G to figure out why they kicked your client out of the index?
Good luck. It's happened to many folks and it's just a fact of the matter.
You (like all professional webmasters) require legal disclaimers that say serp results are not gauranteed as the contractor has absolutly no control over the duration, position and stability of serp results for any key word or phrase.
If you are marketing your SEO services offline in flyers and brochures, then SEO certification is great along with the google adwords certification and the yahoo embassador (sp) logo... these will all help you get a "phone call" or lead.
The best way to gain a clients trust for seo services is to take a "proof is in the pudding" approach. If you are all you say you are (in business) than prove it with testimonials and references of real world results.
My "organic" SEO services include
a) optimizing title and description tags
b) kephrase research and refinement
c) builing reciprocal links with sites of a relevant genre
d) analytics, tracking and perfomance measurement
e) continual adjustment and tuning of page copy
They do not include a guarantee of first page results.