Are you a Certified SEO Professional? If you answered yes to the above question, it's time to face reality. There are no official certifying organizations in the search engine marketing industry, yet. What we do have are a few organizations establishing themselves as what appears to be a certifying authority which may or may not be in the best interests of the SEO industry. And, based on what I see some of those touting these certifications doing, I don't think those doing the certifying want to take responsibility for these individuals. Or do you?
Let's take a look at the definition of the word Certify...
Now that we have the definition right here in front of us, let me ask those who are providing these "unofficial" certifications if they are ready to attest, testify, vouch for and, assume the responsibility for the quality, worth and durability of the work performed by each and every one of these so-called certified SEOs? Are you? Really? If so, jump to Prepare for SEO Litigation.
I believe we have some confusion taking place out there in the industry. I think many are confusing a "Certificate of Completion" as being "Certified" which in turn ends up becoming an "SEO Certification". It is pretty amazing how these two words, Certificate and Certify, can cause so much confusion and how they are being misused by those acquiring these so-called Certifications.
Let's take a look at the definition of the word Certificate...
I do believe the above definition is more in tune with what these unofficial certifying organizations are providing. If we use the correct definition in this instance, those touting these certifications are really just beginners who haven't grasped the core concepts yet and are starting their trek into the industry, remember those days?
Why must you advertise yourself as a Professional Certified SEO when in fact you are not. None of us are. Not one of us is a Certified SEO. There are more than a handful of us who may be certifiable, but that's as far as it goes.
In the past year, we've reviewed at least five (05) submissions to the SEO Consultants Directory where SEO Certifications were being touted. Guess what? Not one of those submissions made it into the directory. Why? Well, it wasn't because they were branding themselves as a Certified SEO Professional. No, we can overlook that, although they do start out with a -5 points on our 100 point scale.
What we can't overlook is someone claiming to be certified in search engine optimization who has not grasped the basic concepts of developing an effective <title> element. Or, is able to write a paragraph of text without using an obscene number of keywords and phrases in an attempt to keyword stuff. Or, loading a menu of href's with title attributes that match the keyword stuffed anchor text in an attempt to influence what?
As a peer, if I see anyone touting an SEO Certification, they may get a negative 5 points right away. Remember, I work on a 100 point scale. Touting certification, when in fact there are no certifying authorities yet in this industry, is misleading. The consumer is unaware that our industry has no certifying body. So, anyone can post these official looking SEO Certifications all over their site and instantly become an authority in the consumer's eyes. While those of us who know better sit here and watch as some of your certified SEOs give our industry and your certifications a black eye.
I've been dabbling in this industry now since 1995. Our industry is far from having a certifying authority in our midst. It would take a mammoth effort on a number of key players in the industry for this to even begin to come to fruition. And, I can tell you from following various discussions over the years that it isn't going to happen anytime soon.
I have great respect for my peers and colleagues who have assumed the position of coach, mentor, trainer, teacher, etc. at some of the various resources available for education in the search engine marketing industry. I applaud you for assisting our industry in developing some form of solid baseline educational guidelines.
What I don't have respect for are some of your graduates passing themselves off as a "Certified SEO Professional" when they haven't grasped the basics yet. That presents major challenges for our industry moving forward and will only make it more difficult when the time comes and we attempt to form and come to accept a certifying body. My crystal ball tells me that isn't going to happen soon.
The SEO Consultants Directory started a general discussion amongst our members about "Search Engine Marketing Standards of Excellence - SEMSOE" back in 2004 December. While the feedback received was very positive, we are but a small part of a very large and diverse community that spans the globe and it would take efforts far beyond what a small group of us could do.
Now, if more than 50 members with a voice got together and decided it was time to start the groundwork required to assemble a set of standards that would then become the foundation for a certifying authority, that might be enough of a push and a loud enough shout to get something started.
Without a set of written and agreed to guidelines amongst those who have the "say so" in our industry, we would be challenged from the beginning. There would be many individuals that would need to review, modify and approve all actions. It pains me to even think about the process.
I say we bring 30, 40, 50 key players (the SEO Consortium) behind closed doors for a week or two to hammer out the specifics, establish an initial framework for moving forward, and then commission the group to get this movement started! If you're not motivated at this point, then don't go any further!
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