By Kris Roadruck | August 25, 2010
Oh internet… where to begin. We SEO professionals see bullshit every single day so admittedly the most surprising thing to me is that I’m capable of still being surprised at all with the sheer level of stupidity run rampant in our industry. I’ve bumped into this one a few times but it still gets me every time. Without further ado I present to you:
THE SEO CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL!
It all started out innocently enough. I posted a couple of job openings on the SEOmoz marketplace and indeed.com looking for a mid-level experienced SEO project manager to add to our team. All of the usual suspects responded. You know the ones. Ignored the “full time in-office opportunity only, no outsource operations or net-commuters” and sent me their broken English “Dear Sir/Madame I’m Habeeb and my team can get you to #1!” form (spam) letters. After I deleted those without reading passed the first sentence carefully filed those away for future reference, I stumbled upon a real gem.
Holding a MS from NYU and claiming vast experience in all areas of search, analytics and email marketing – he almost made it to the “to be interviewed” pile. That is of course until I got to the part of his resume that read:
SEO CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL
WTF? Since when did our industry elect a governing body sanctioned to pass out certifications?
I quickly fired off an email to him telling him that there was no industry recognized certification and that representing himself as holding one disqualified him from working for us (common sense is one of our prerequisites).
He replied in short order to tell me I was misinformed and that he did in-fact have such a certification obtained from seocertification.org. Oh goodie! Let’s take a look!
Before I’m even 10 seconds into the site I note that they didn’t even apply one of the most basic SEO fundamentals: Canonicalization
Well hmm maybe in googles new search engine little details like this don’t matter anymore. I mean what do I know compared to these l33t SEO experts? I am, however, confused how they proclaim to be “The pre-eminent source of information, education, and certification assessment for the constantly evolving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry worldwide” on same page as they list Alta-vista and Lycos logos as if those were still remotely relevant.
Those names ring a bell? Oh yeah, that’s right, they died about the same time as the first Playstation and dial-up Internet. But hey maybe I’m making a snap judgment. Best to look at the testimonials before walking away from an opportunity to “Benefit from Industry recognition, Enhanced job opportunities & increased customer satisfaction”. Let’s see…
“I wanted to keep you posted on the current ranking that my new site has received from MSN’s Search Engine. I’ve copied and pasted the results as of today. I’m delighted to say the least for receiving a position in the top 5 for the keyword ‘seo optimized’.”
OH SNAP! I want to know how to rank for useless keywords in search engines that no longer exist too!!! But how long does it take to learn such amazing skills?
“I actually found myself glued in front of my computer once I had registered and downloaded the Study Guide. I didn’t want to stop reading and practicing the test questions. All in all, I spent 3 days doing this and then felt I was ready to take the exam.”
Crap. I must be doing something wrong. Here I was under the impression it took years to hone your skills in this industry but apparently the geniuses at seocertification.org managed to compress all that information down into a digestible 3 day study guide.
LET’S CUT THE BULLSHIT:
Q: Is there a real SEO certification?
A: To make it short and sweet – No.
SEO is a constantly changing field, moving with the winds of the geeks at Google and other search engine behemoths. With each “feature” change and exploit and counter-exploit in the improvement to the search algo, what is a proven tactic today may be obsolete in a month. In such a dynamic field, any such “certification” at present will be rendered pretty useless in just a year’s time.
In addition, there is a sharp difference between being “industry-certified” and obtaining a “certificate of completion.” To sum up the difference, certification means being truly tested and approved as an expert by the industry’s recognized certifying body, such as the MD certification for physicians. A certificate,meanwhile, is just a fancy piece of paper which, depending on the situation, can interchangeably be used for either wiping your ass or impressing a potential employer who knows nothing about the position he/she is interviewing you for. Take your pick.
In the end, you don’t need a PhD (or certification) to know the difference. It all boils down to common sense. Would you pay for “SEO certification” from a site that’s not optimized, and lists engines you haven’t searched since Netscape Navigator?
I think not. But then again, I’m not certified. What do I know, right?