There is no industry wide certification when it comes to search engine optimization. The search engines, who are the ones which decide who ranks and who doesn't, just don't offer any kind of SEO certification. So why do they exist and are they of any value?
In some ways it is. There is no overall government body or institution that regulates search engine optimization companies, either at international or national level. There is no exam you need to pass or register you need to submit to before starting a SEO agency. Anyone can do it.
Yes, of course there is a downside. The industry if bulging with cowboys, con men and hopeless amateurs. So why doesn't someone step in?
The way search engines work in their detail are closely guarded secrets by each company. These are all private enterprises competing to get you to use them. So naturally they are reluctant to reveal too much which is exactly what a course might do.
That's not to say there is no help on offer. Google does offer certification in Google Analytics, a key tool in SEO. They do have a SEO course and guide but they keep things fairly vague - "create great content", "don't buy links from other websites".
Their blogs and twitter feeds to provide pointers but often these are more around what not to do, rather than what to do.
And perhaps the greatest reason they won't offer certification is because there is no real money in it for them.
Google is a classic example of this. They will certify you for your skills in Google Ads. They will call you a Google Partner if you show how well you grow a clients business .... using Google Ads. But they won't show you any acknowledgment even if you showed them the creation of a multi-million dollar website that you achieved through organic search alone.
So if you can't get certified by anyone who matters how come there are so many certificates out there? These are all private firms taking what they know and turning it into a course. That's exactly what I did with the Webmaxing SEO Basics Course.
Your Certification from Webmaxing proves you know the basics of search engine optimization but don't expect to wave it and get accepted into college. It's the knowledge of myself and my agency and, if you can pass the exam, you can be fairly confident you understand the basic nuts and bolts of SEO.
Its a useful tool for me when hiring new team members who claim to know a thing or two and its probably used by others out there for a similar purpose.
Personally I know of no SEO certificate that really carries any weight in this industry. Yes, sure pay for a course if you have heard good things about it but don't expect the certificate will bring customers flocking to your door. They no more recognize it than one you might knock up yourself in Photoshop.
On that note if you come across lists of 'Certified SEO companies' these are just lists of people who have passed a third party course. So remember they are not endorsed by Google or Bing or any other search engine.
Just throw the whole idea of certificates counting for anything out the window. That's not how the SEO industry functions.
The only thing that matters when looking around for a SEO agency is whether or not they can rank pages in Google and Bing. Beyond that you have to understand their approach to optimization so you can be sure that their success stories are not Black Hat SEO that will collapse tomorrow.
Its part of the reason I started this website. So any client can come here and say, "OK, I get it, this is how these guys at link2light work. This is what they are going to do for me and this is why they will be doing it."
By also being able to rank this website for certain SEO related terms I'm also showing that my agency can do it. In other words what we do is clean, transparent and effective. Do you think I've plugged my own agency enough? I'm not sure ;)
There is no SEO certificate that is offered by anyone meaningful or recognized by anyone meaningful so if you are approached by a SEO agency who claims to be 'Certified' it will simply be recognition by an organization that is not a search engine that they know about search engines. Treat that as you see fit but it is certainly not an endorsement from Google or Bing.
They can be useful in hiring team members but only if you yourself have an understanding of SEO and have completed the course as well so you can carefully consider its value and what level of search engine optimization knowledge it reflects.
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.