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7 Best SEO Certifications: Are They Worth It?

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7 Best SEO Certifications: Are They Worth It?

I’ll give you one guess about the answer to the titular question: Is getting an SEO certification worth it?

It’s every SEO pro’s favorite response.

That’s right: It depends! (If it didn’t, this would be a much shorter article.)

SEO certifications can be valuable if you’re new to the industry or expanding your skillset into different disciplines.

But do you need a specific certification to be successful? Probably not.

Certifications and courses are great for building your base skills and familiarity with industry tools. But SEO evolves so quickly that experience and testing are often the best teachers.

Experienced SEO pros who can prove results don’t need certifications for work they already do.

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But you still might find something helpful in the right training. Everyone needs to upskill.

Let’s examine which certifications could be the most valuable for your time or money.

Is There An SEO Certification?

There isn’t one single widely-recognized SEO certification. There’s no SEO degree or common curriculum – which might sound discouraging if you’re trying to learn how to get started in SEO.

But it makes sense.

SEO is a huge discipline that requires many skills and includes many people.

Developers, designers, writers, marketers, data analysts, influencers, salespeople, managers, and other professionals all have something to add to the SEO industry.

There are tons of ways to contribute and plenty of entry points.

However, the academic community seems to be taking more notice lately. Certifications offered by colleges have started popping up.

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Should You Pay For An SEO Certification?

Many businesses offer their own courses and certifications. But, these can be pricy.

The short answer is: Pay for what you learn, not for the certificate.

With the number of free resources out there, from SEO beginner guides to advanced SEO strategy guides, I don’t advise paying a lot of money for basic certification.

The certificate itself probably isn’t what’s going to move the needle for you.

This industry cares about what you can prove – and for the most part, all a certificate proves is that you can Google the answers to multiple-choice questions.

On the other hand, the courses themselves can be extremely valuable when they go beyond the basics. If there’s a course you want to take, and you think you’ll gain helpful skills from it, then it’s absolutely worth paying for.

So evaluate a certification or course based on what actual educational value you get from it.

I’ve also noticed that many paid certifications are companions to a specific premium SEO tool. So, they’re likely worth it if you’re committing to that tool.

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My advice is to check out the free content first. If you like what it does and feel like you’d get actual business value out of the course or certification, then go right ahead!

Is A Google SEO Certification Worth It?

Learning new skills and tools can propel your career and help you command greater compensation. Plus, a series of specialized certifications can build an impressive LinkedIn profile and CV.

If you’re new to the industry, certifications can help you prove your knowledge to attract your first clients or jobs.

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping for official certification from Google, it doesn’t offer anything directly that fits that description.

However, it does offer certifications in all of its tools. It also provides a variety of digital marketing, career development, and data courses – though not all of these come with certificates.

If you browse the Digital Garage, you’ll also find courses from providers outside of Google, such as Coursera and educational institutions.

The Google resources are helpful in their granularity.

You should be able to tell which are relevant and useful to you quickly. Not all will be, but you should at least consider taking tool-specific courses.

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The courses are categorized by time, skill level, and whether you’ll get a digital certificate at the end.

At the time of writing, they’re all free – so there’s really no reason not to check out something you’re interested in.

A Google account with a healthy selection of completed certificates can be helpful if you lack real-world experience with the tools.

Plus, Google partner organizations often require Google certifications.

7 Best SEO Certifications

This list includes some of the most highly-regarded certifications that provide a lot of value in the learning process. I’ve focused on free certifications first, but we’ll talk about paid courses that might be worth it later on.

1. Google’s Fundamentals Of Digital Marketing Certification

This one’s not technically an SEO certification but features SEO modules, including modules about search ads and local search.

  • Level: Beginner
  • Hours: 40
  • Key learning outcomes: Analytics, business strategy, SEO, SEM, content marketing, and several other core aspects of digital marketing
  • Price: Free
  • Number enrolled: 300,000+
  • Learn more here.

2. Google Analytics 4 On Skillshop

If you’re going to be using Google’s tools, there’s no better teacher than the people who made them.

Plus, earning certifications for all the tools you regularly use is a great – and quick – way to communicate your technical expertise.

This one is particularly relevant to, well, everyone who used to use Google Analytics.

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GA4 brings changes and new features, so you should keep up with the times!

  • Level: Beginner through advanced users
  • Hours: About an hour per course
  • Key learning outcomes: Analyzing your website and performance with GA4
  • Price: Free
  • Learn more here.

3. UC Davis Search Engine Optimization Specialization

University of California, Davis offers this specialization in SEO.

It’s a series of five courses culminating in a capstone project.

Out of all the options, this is likely the most time-intensive. It’s also the most intriguing.

  • Level: Beginner-intermediate (two or more years of industry experience)
  • Hours: About 120 – six hours per week over five months
  • Key learning outcomes: Keyword research, marketing, SEO, how search algorithms work, competitive analysis, creating SEO reports
  • Price: Free
  • Number enrolled: Around 120,000
  • Learn more here.

4. HubSpot’s SEO Certification Course

HubSpot’s Academy is legitimately cool. It’s all free and online, not unlike Google’s learning resources. It’s also easy to search for certifications on various digital marketing-related topics.

  • Level: Beginner-intermediate
  • Hours: Just over 2
  • Key learning outcomes: Keyword research, link building, website analysis
  • Price: Free
  • Number enrolled: Around 250,000 (in the entire Hubspot Academy, not just this course)
  • Learn more here.

5. Semrush SEO Fundamentals Exam

Semrush structures its courses and certifications a bit differently.

It lists courses separately from the exams.

If you’re confident in your knowledge and up for a challenge, you can quickly jump into the exams and earn a certification.

Or, you can do as many courses as you like before tackling a single exam.

Alternatively, you can skip certification exams if you don’t care for them and just want to learn.

This certification exam is paired with a course of the same name, but Semrush features several SEO-focused courses and certifications.

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  • Level: Beginner-intermediate
  • Hours: Exam – about 30 minutes. Course – Four hours.
  • Key learning outcomes: SEO basics, technical SEO, ranking signals, mobile SEO
  • Price: Free
  • Learn more: ExamCourse

6: Ahrefs’ Complete SEO Course For Beginners

I’m cheating a little bit with this one. There’s no certification at the end of the course, but as I’ve already stated, I can be dubious about the sole value of certifications themselves.

So, you won’t get a digital certificate to add your LinkedIn profile – but you can still brag about it.

I like this one because it’s no-nonsense; it’s a YouTube playlist. Easy access, anytime.

  • Level: Beginner-intermediate
  • Hours: Around two hours of videos
  • Key learning outcomes: SEO basics, link building, on-page SEO, technical SEO
  • Price: Free
  • Learn more here.

7. Paid Certifications

I’m cheating again; I decided to group the paid certifications here. Trusted names in the industry offer these, so you’ll likely get a lot of value from them.

But if you’re new to the industry and just looking to get started, consider saving these for later on.

Moz Academy

The Moz training academy includes a variety of courses.

There’s one free course to get your feet wet, but the certifications are $395 or $595.

Moz does offer a robust learning center where you can get a lot of insight from these industry veterans.

Yoast All-Around SEO Training

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Yoast is the ubiquitous WordPress SEO plugin.

If you’ve done any work on the content side of digital marketing, you’ve probably encountered it.

Its training course is an annual subscription model for $99 a year. There’s a free course you can try out to get started.

Conclusion

There’s a critical difference between a course and a certification. Not all courses have certifications. Some of the best ones don’t.

Certifications have their uses. They’re quick ways to demonstrate proficiencies to employers and clients – and if you don’t have a lot of experience, they can act as proof of your skills.

Getting certified in specific tools is great for your resume if you work with them. An at-a-glance list of your certified tools is impressive and helpful!

But the content you learn is much more important than the digital certificate. You shouldn’t discount a course because you don’t get a certification out of it.

In fact, a digital certification in and of itself isn’t particularly impressive.

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Don’t let that dissuade you from seeking out learning opportunities. Digital courses, both free and paid, can be critical in your career.

You can learn new skills, keep up with the industry, and command higher rates with the right application of knowledge.

Don’t focus on getting SEO certified. Focus on learning SEO.

More resources:


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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

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Fact Checking: Get Your Facts Right

In the last decade or so, the concept of “fake news” has become a major thorn in the side of consumers and content writers alike.

Digital marketing experts who write SEO content at the enterprise level might not consider themselves journalists or news reporters – but there’s a greater overlap between the roles than many people realize.

Like journos, enterprise SEO content writers need to earn the trust of their audience by demonstrating authority, relevance, and experience.

And while you might think that, as a content marketing specialist, the only person you’re serving is your client or employer, the truth is that good SEO content provides just as much service to consumers.

You’re not just advertising to people; you’re helping them find answers, information, and solutions to their problems.

That’s why, for SEO content writers, getting the facts right is crucial.

“Fake news” has eroded a lot of people’s trust in media. Online content, in particular, is always fighting an uphill battle due to the oversaturation of the digital space – and the sheer amount of misinformation that finds its way into blogs and social media sites with little quality control.

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Today, fact-checking is arguably more important than ever before.

One little mistake is all it takes to lose a consumer’s trust forever.

But what does it mean to get your facts right? Is it just ensuring every name is spelled correctly, and every claim has an attributed source?

Both of these things are an important part of SEO fact-checking, but they’re only a small piece of a large puzzle.

Enterprise SEO Fact Checking Best Practices

Fun fact: Even when consumers don’t know you’re lying, Google does.

Web pages with deceptive, inaccurate, or poorly vetted content are penalized and less likely to appear in search results.

Want to avoid the wrath of the almighty algorithm? Here’s what you need to do:

Get The Basics Right

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that fact-checking isn’t limited to correctly writing people’s names, ages, positions, and pronouns.

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Nevertheless, getting the basics right is still important. If you can’t do at least that much, then you won’t be prepared to do more in-depth fact-checking.

It’s especially important to get this information right when you’re quoting multiple people.

Not only do you need to attribute quotes and ideas to the proper sources, but you also have to make sure the information they shared with you is accurately reproduced.

Double Check Everything

If you get a quote from someone that says the sky is blue, go outside and look up, just to be sure.

Okay, that might be an exaggerated example – but you get the point.

Double and triple-check everything.

If you find a useful quote or statistic online, track down the original source. See if you can find other reliable web pages with the same information.

Don’t be afraid to do a little research yourself. Crunch the numbers and try to find corroborating evidence.

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Never take anything at face value.

Go To The Source

Speaking of tracking down the sources of stats and quotes: That’s a cornerstone of fact-checking so important, it merits expanding on now.

Have you ever had a teacher or professor tell you, in no uncertain terms, never to use Wikipedia as a source?

Well, that’s just as true when writing enterprise-level SEO content. Wikipedia might be useful in pointing you toward helpful sources, but it shouldn’t be your primary text.

Nor should any second-hand source. If another web page states something as a fact, confirm where it got that fact.

If it’s a disreputable source and you parrot it, then you become a disreputable source, too.

Understand The Information

Content writing – especially at the enterprise level and especially in an agency (rather than in-house PR team) context – often requires authors to cover many different areas of expertise in many different industries.

It can be tempting to regurgitate and plagiarize information that already exists, but if you do that, you won’t be able to offer any meaningful insights.

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You have to understand the information you’re relaying.

That will help you spot contradictions and factual errors and demonstrate genuine authority.

Is AI Automation The Future Of Fact Checking?

Enterprise-level content fact-checking requires a lot of time and effort, but cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, just as it has with many other aspects of SEO, AI automation may soon be able to simplify the process.

U.K.-based independent fact-checking organization, Full Fact, has been leading the charge in recent years to develop scalable, automated fact-checking tools.

Full Fact’s efforts have already garnered the attention of the biggest names in search engine technology.

In 2019, the non-profit organization was one of the winners of the 2019 Google AI Impact Challenge, which provides funding for potentially revolutionary automation research projects.

Full Fact’s stated goal is to develop AI software capable of breaking down long content pieces into individual sentences, then identifying the types of claims those sentences represent, before finally cross-referencing those claims in real-time with the most up-to-date factual news data.

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Though Full Fact is still years away from achieving its goal, the benefits of such a breakthrough for SEO content writing are self-evident.

That said, you don’t have to wait for the future to use AI automation and other software tools to help you fact-check.

For example, the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker not only identifies duplicate content taken from another source but also highlights portions of text requiring attribution.

Commonly used enterprise SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz, meanwhile, can be used to investigate a domain’s authority, helping you decide which sources are considered reputable.

Fact-checking in today’s oversaturated news and information marketplace can be intimidating at first glance. But the number of resources available to content writers is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Making full use of these resources better enables you to win consumer trust in an age when that kind of trust is a very delicate, precious, and valuable commodity.

More resources:


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