With the ever-present drive for higher search engine rankings, a number of sites are popping up offering search engine optimization certification. And as people are naturally drawn to work in a booming market, many fledging SEO employees are also drawn to any program that proclaims to give them a leg up. But is search engine optimization certification really worth it?
From a learning standpoint, the answer is a qualified “yes”. The skills and industry knowledge you’ll gain from a certification course will definitely help you step more confidently into the SEO world, regardless of your previous experience. Many courses also focus on the sustainability of best practices and the ethics of white-hat techniques, which can serve you well in a constantly changing field such as SEO.
But the certification itself—the piece of paper or the online badge—is of questionable value. A potential employer will be less concerned with an actual certification than what you learned while getting that certification. In short, an employer wants you to show them what you can do, not show them a certificate. And given the frequent updates of search engine algorithms, employers tend to place more of a premium on skills such as creativity and flexibility, which will allow their employees to move and grow with the times—skills that no certification can guarantee.
Perhaps the employer has had great experiences with employees certified with a particular company, or the search engine optimization certification standards are exactly in line with the employer’s optimization goals. If an employer asks that you be certified through a specific agency, then the choice is easy. Get certified with them or find different employment. But that situation is becoming rarer.
Most SEO employment these days is based on your ability to increase search rankings. Period. However you came by these skills is of little importance to potential employers, and being able to prove how you came by them is even less important. A search engine optimization certification course can teach you valuable skills. Just make sure you know that the ultimate goal is better understanding of SEO principles and techniques, and not a piece of paper.