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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • 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

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.

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.

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

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Twitter Will Share Ad Revenue With Twitter Blue Verified Creators

Elon Musk, owner and CEO of Twitter, announced that starting today, Twitter will share ad revenue with creators. The new policy applies only to ads that appear in a creator’s reply threads.

The move comes on the heels of YouTube launching ad revenue sharing for creators through the YouTube Partner Program in a bid to become the most rewarding social platform for creators.

Social networks like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have similar monetization options for creators who publish reels and video content. For example, Instagram’s Reels Play Bonus Program offers eligible creators up to $1,200 for Reel views.

The catch? Unlike other social platforms, creators on Twitter must have an active subscription to Twitter Blue and meet the eligibility requirements for the Blue Verified checkmark.

The following is an example of a Twitter ad in a reply thread (Promoted by @ASUBootcamps). It should generate revenue for the Twitter Blue Verified creator (@rowancheung), who created the thread.

Screenshot from Twitter, January 2023

To receive the ad revenue share, creators would have to pay $8 per month (or more) to maintain an active Twitter Blue subscription. Twitter Blue pricing varies based on location and is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

Eligibility for the Twitter Blue Verified checkmark includes having an active Twitter Blue subscription and meeting the following criteria.

  • Your account must have a display name, profile photo, and confirmed phone number.
  • Your account has to be older than 90 days and active within the last 30 days.
  • Recent changes to your account’s username, display name, or profile photo can affect eligibility. Modifications to those after verification can also result in a temporary loss of the blue checkmark until Twitter reviews your updated information.
  • Your account cannot appear to mislead or deceive.
  • Your account cannot spam or otherwise try to manipulate the platform for engagement or follows.

Did you receive a Blue Verified checkmark before the Twitter Blue subscription? That will not help creators who want a share of the ad revenue. The legacy Blue Verified checkmark does not make a creator account eligible for ad revenue sharing.

When asked about accounts with a legacy and Twitter Blue Verified checkmark, Musk tweeted that the legacy Blue Verified is “deeply corrupted” and will sunset in just a few months.

Regardless of how you gained your checkmark, it’s important to note that Twitter can remove a checkmark without notice.

In addition to ad revenue sharing for Twitter Blue Verified creators, Twitter Dev announced that the Twitter API would no longer be free in an ongoing effort to reduce the number of bots on the platform.

While speculation looms about a loss in Twitter ad revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported a “fire-sale” Super Bowl offer from Musk to win back advertisers.

The latest data from DataReportal shows a positive trend for Twitter advertisers. Ad reach has increased from 436.4 million users in January 2022 to 556 million in January 2023.

Twitter is also the third most popular social network based on monthly unique visitors and page views globally, according to SimilarWeb data through December 2022.


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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

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AI Content Detection Software: Can They Detect ChatGPT?

We live in an age when AI technologies are booming, and the world has been taken by storm with the introduction of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is capable of accomplishing a wide range of tasks, but one that it does particularly well is writing articles. And while there are many obvious benefits to this, it also presents a number of challenges.

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle that AI-generated written content poses for the publishing industry is the spread of misinformation.

ChatGPT, or any other AI tool, may generate articles that may contain factual errors or are just flat-out incorrect.

Imagine someone who has no expertise in medicine starting a medical blog and using ChatGPT to write content for their articles.

Their content may contain errors that can only be identified by professional doctors. And if that blog content starts spreading over social media, or maybe even ranks in Search, it could cause harm to people who read it and take erroneous medical advice.

Another potential challenge ChatGPT poses is how students might leverage it within their written work.

If one can write an essay just by running a prompt (and without having to do any actual work), that greatly diminishes the quality of education – as learning about a subject and expressing your own ideas is key to essay writing.

Even before the introduction of ChatGPT, many publishers were already generating content using AI. And while some honestly disclose it, others may not.

Also, Google recently changed its wording regarding AI-generated content, so that it is not necessarily against the company’s guidelines.

Image from Twitter, November 2022

This is why I decided to try out existing tools to understand where the tech industry is when it comes to detecting content generated by ChatGPT, or AI generally.

I ran the following prompts in ChatGPT to generate written content and then ran those answers through different detection tools.

  • “What is local SEO? Why it is important? Best practices of Local SEO.”
  • “Write an essay about Napoleon Bonaparte invasion of Egypt.”
  • “What are the main differences between iPhone and Samsung galaxy?”

Here is how each tool performed.

1. Writer.com

For the first prompt’s answer, Writer.com fails, identifying ChatGPT’s content as 94% human-generated.

Writer.com resultsScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the second prompt, it worked and detected it as AI-written content.

Writer.com test resultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

For the third prompt, it failed again.

Sample ResultScreenshot from writer.com, January 2023

However, when I tested real human-written text, Writer.com did identify it as 100% human-generated very accurately.

2. Copyleaks

Copyleaks did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written.

Sample ResultScreenshot from Copyleaks, January 2023

3. Contentatscale.ai

Contentatscale.ai did a great job in detecting all three prompts as AI-written, even though the first prompt, it gave a 21% human score.

Contentscale.aiScreenshot from Contentscale.ai, January 2023

4. Originality.ai

Originality.ai did a great job on all three prompts, accurately detecting them as AI-written.

Also, when I checked with real human-written text, it did identify it as 100% human-generated, which is essential.

Originality.aiScreenshot from Originality.ai, January 2023

You will notice that Originality.ai doesn’t detect any plagiarism issues. This may change in the future.

Over time, people will use the same prompts to generate AI-written content, likely resulting in a number of very similar answers. When these articles are published, they will then be detected by plagiarism tools.

5. GPTZero

This non-commercial tool was built by Edward Tian, and specifically designed to detect ChatGPT-generated articles. And it did just that for all three prompts, recognizing them as AI-generated.

GPTZeroScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

Unlike other tools, it gives a more detailed analysis of detected issues, such as sentence-by-sentence analyses.

sentence by sentence text perplexityScreenshot from GPTZero, January 2023

OpenAI’s AI Text Classifier

And finally, let’s see how OpenAi detects its own generated answers.

For the 1st and 3rd prompts, it detected that there is an AI involved by classifying it as “possibly-AI generated”.

AI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Likely AI-generated

But surprisingly, it failed for the 2nd prompt and classified that as “unlikely AI-generated.” I did play with different prompts and found that, as of the moment, when checking it, few of the above tools detect AI content with higher accuracy than OpenAi’s own tool.

AI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generatedAI Text Classifier. Unlikely AI-generated

As of the time of this check, they had released it a day before. I think in the future, they will fine tune it, and it will work much better.

Conclusion

Current AI content generation tools are in good shape and are able to detect ChatGPT-generated content (with varying degrees of success).

It is still possible for someone to generate copy via ChatGPT and then paraphrase that to make it undetectable, but that might require almost as much work as writing from scratch – so the benefits aren’t as immediate.

If you think about ranking an article in Google written by ChatGPT, consider for a moment: If the tools we looked at above were able to recognize them as AI-generated, then for Google, detecting them should be a piece of cake.

On top of that, Google has quality raters who will train their system to recognize AI-written articles even better by manually marking them as they find them.

So, my advice would be not to build your content strategy on ChatGPT-generated content, but use it merely as an assistant tool.

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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