SEO Certifications: Legit or a Scam?

An SEO certification is something you’ll see advertised online, awarded after the completion of a course. The idea is you take the class, often pay for it, and then you can show you have the skills for search engine optimization.

So, is it worth your time and your money?

Considering the fact there’s no official Google SEO certification and you don’t need a certification to get into the industry, the answer is probably not. Some vendors will specifically associate their certification courses with Google, but it’s not an official Google program.

Beyond Google not offering official certification, most organizations that offer them aren’t well-known or considered particularly credible in the industry. There’s no standardization across certifications.

The majority of professional SEOs aren’t certified either.

Do Certifications in SEO Exist?

Technically yes, there are SEO certifications, but they’re not regulated or managed by any particular body or organization. The format of these classes may involve taking an online or, less often, in-person class. Then, you may take a quiz, and you’re given a certificate.

There are several issues here.

First, SEO is something that is best learned with experience.

Also, you might understand the general elements of SEO after you’re certified, but you probably don’t know how to take what you learned and apply it to real situations.

Understanding the top-line elements of SEO isn’t useful without the ability to apply it.

An SEO training course can give you the foundation you need when you’re getting started, but the certification itself is likely of little value to you.

Why Do Companies Offer SEO Certifications?

Most companies that offer SEO certifications do so for the simple fact that it’s a way to generate revenue. It gives them something they can use to market themselves that’s a step beyond just offering coursework. The idea of certification may entice someone who is just getting started in SEO and wants to give themselves an advantage.

If you’re new to the industry, you may not even realize the limited value of these certifications.

Even for companies that might advertise free certifications, they’re still getting something out of it.

They may give you a badge or some other visual representation of your certification that you can use on your sites. That then links back to the certifier’s site or course.

Are Any SEO Certifications Accredited?

Currently, there are no certifications that are accredited that we’re aware of. Something that could change the recommendation on whether or not a certification has value would be if Google were to offer an official certification or accreditation.

That might shift the guidance on whether or not to get a certificate, but to this point, that doesn’t exist and doesn’t seem like it will.

SEO Certification Costs

The costs can vary pretty widely for an SEO certification course. Some options are free, and then costs go up to as much as $3,000. The price varies depending on the vendor and also the types of courses and how comprehensive they are.

Should I Get a Certificate for SEO?

First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong at all with getting a certificate for an SEO course that you took, especially if it’s going to pump you up. But, if you’re weighing whether or not to get an SEO certification, no one can decide for you. It’s going to come down to why you’re considering it and what your objectives are.

If you’re looking for work in an agency or with a company, an SEO certification will most likely have little if any value for you.

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Agencies and companies when hiring SEO professionals are looking for experience and the ability to solve problems. They’re going to want to see your results, and certification is probably not going to do much to sway them either way.

If you can use your time to gain experience, that’s going to serve you better.

Let’s say you’re a newbie. Then you can gain experience by doing small projects on a freelance basis to show your results. You could also work on your own site if you don’t have work experience but want to show what you can do.

If you do get a certification, it’s not inherently problematic, and it can help you learn some skills that you can then apply to your work. That’s a good thing, but you just need to go into managing your expectations about what your return on investment will be, particularly if you’re choosing a course that’s on the higher end price-wise.

Just know this: It’s not going to make-or-break in regards to getting a job somewhere, but it can help you grow your SEO knowledge.

How to Get an SEO Certification

Most SEO certifications are similar to one another in terms of the process. You can look for courses online. Usually, they are self-paced. Once you sign up and pay the fee if there is one, you can start the course right away. At the completion of the course you’ll be asked to take a quiz or some other type of assessment, and then you’ll receive the certification.

Should I Take an SEO Course?

An SEO course can be a good opportunity, even if you don’t take one offering a certification at the end. If you have the time and the budget to put toward it, then yes, SEO courses can be a great way to learn SEO.

An SEO course can be general and broad, or what you might find most beneficial for you is choosing one that hones in on one particular area such as local SEO or technical SEO.

A course can give you foundational knowledge that you can then start using in real life. I recommend coupling SEO courses with on-the-job training.

Experienced professionals are usually behind SEO training courses, and that can provide value as well. SEO courses are also a great way to learn from seasoned SEOs who have a lot of experience and they provide a way to discover hidden gems of SEO knowledge.

What Certifications Does Google Currently Offer?

Currently, Google doesn’t offer any official SEO certifications. Google does offer certifications in other areas, however, including:

  • AdWords
  • AdSense
  • Display Ads
  • Analytics
  • Google Apps

Other areas of training and certification include Google Marketing Platform, Google AdMob, Google My Business, and Authorized Buyers.

Why Doesn’t Google Offer SEO Certifications?

Recently, a representative from Google was interviewed on the subject. He said following internal discussion that Google had decided against the addition of an SEO certification program.

One of the reasons cited is that Google says they don’t want to make money from webmasters related to ranking organically in search results. Organic search results don’t come from paying Google.

The fear seems to be that if Google took money for certification, it would be unethical.

Final Thoughts

None of the above information is meant to dissuade you from learning more about SEO. In fact, working in SEO is a constant learning experience, and you’re always evolving in your knowledge and skill set. Courses can be a big part of that.

The certification element of a course, however, isn’t especially relevant for most professionals.

The time may be better spent in other areas of your professional education and development, particularly since Google doesn’t offer an official SEO certification, and there are no accrediting organizations as it stands now.

About Dani Owens

Dani Owens, the owner of Pigzilla, has been in the digital marketing field since 2011. Her resources have been mentioned and shared by local SEO experts such as Eric Ward, Darren Shaw, Phil Rozek, Marie Haynes, David Mihm and Local U. From small, independent Mom-and-Pop shops, to enterprises with thousands of locations, Dani Owens has years of experience strategizing and implementing reliable local SEO tactics that lead to increased organic traffic and conversions.