Given the importance of the internet in connecting organizations with their customers and audiences, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a prized profession, playing an essential role in making these matches.
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of increasing traffic on a website through organic search results. But not just any traffic — qualified traffic is needed. After all, getting millions of visitors doesn’t help if they are not interested in what your site has to offer.
The stats show the importance of SEO:
With the importance of SEO, it’s not surprising that 64% of marketers actively invest time learning digital marketing tactics. Since there are currently no SEO degrees or set courses to become an “expert” in SEO, expertise is often acquired through hard-won experience and, increasingly, by getting SEO certifications.
Of course, getting all the training needed to do SEO proficiently is a tricky job since many different skills are required. For example, take a look at our State of Content Marketing 2019 Global Report. Someone proficient at content marketing will have a mix of hard skills (marketing, social media, strategy, analytics, etc.) and soft ones (such as leadership, respect for deadlines, written communication).
If you are interested in what benefits SEO certification could have for you and the best SEO certifications, read our breakdown:
What Is SEO Certification?
SEO certifications are usually given by education platforms, digital marketing agencies, and others are often done online, which makes sense, given the profession. Usually, a certification is awarded after completing an assessment at the end of a specific course.
You can take courses and get certifications in beginner’s SEO, advanced SEO, inbound marketing, link building, competitive analysis, keyword research, and much more.
The costs for certifications range from nothing to thousands of dollars.
It’s worth noting that Google doesn’t provide any kind of Google SEO certification, so if anyone claims they are a “Google Certified SEO Expert,” they misspoke themselves. The search engine giant does offer certifications for Google Ads, Display, AdSense, and Google Analytics. Some of this applies to SEO, but, again, it isn’t an official SEO certification.
Google creates an algorithm for searches, constantly refining them to do their job better. So, from its point of view, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give certifications for a practice designed to orchestrate the best results from its algorithms.
Is SEO Certification Worth It?
Is it worth it to get an SEO certification? The answer is, it depends. If you already have a lot of SEO experience and clients and proven optimization successes, you probably can do without.
If you are just starting or want to update your qualifications, a structured SEO program taught by an industry expert, with your understanding confirmed by a certification test, can be a good idea.
If you just want an SEO specialist certification to list on your LinkedIn profile or resume, it probably is too much work just for appearance’s sake. However, if you are trying to hone your knowledge for specific skills and programs, it’s a good way to market yourself to potential employers and clients and network with like-minded professionals.
Best SEO Certification Programs
The following are some of the best search engine optimization certifications out there. They are given by companies and organizations with impeccable credentials, following well-structured courses taught by knowledgeable professionals and tests that properly challenge what the candidate has learned.
HubSpot Inbound Marketing Course
This Inbound Marketing Course is given by HubSpot, known for its inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Through seven lessons, 34 videos, and eight quizzes, the course, which lasts about 4.5 hours, teaches inbound marketing techniques that range from content creation and social promotion to converting and nurturing leads.
The well-produced videos include social media promotion, conversion strategy, lead nurturing, aligning marketing with sales, developing a conversational growth strategy, conversion strategy, applying a customer marketing approach, and, of course, inbound marketing fundamentals.
This SEO certification course is best for: Primarily for novices who want to learn more about inbound methodologies and strategies
At SEMrush, we offer a full range of online courses and exams, depending on what you’re looking for. A great place to start is with the Content Marketing and SEO Fundamentals Exam, which gives you a sense of what path you’ll want to take through the remaining courses. This course lays the groundwork for more advanced training in different areas of our expertise through the SEMrush Academy.
You’ll also want to check out our SEO Toolkit Exam. The series of 14 video lessons done over three hours are divided into three modules: Learn, Build, and Measure. Besides the video lessons, participants also get access to expert SEO tips and further reading to deepen their knowledge. After the course, they can take the exam (23 questions over 27 minutes) for certification.
Continuing to build on your knowledge taking other SEMrush courses, you can also try to get other certifications, including ones for advanced users of the SEMrush toolkit and digital agencies.
This SEO certification course is best for: SEO beginners and intermediate practitioners who want to update their skills by learning from SEO experts
ClickMinded SEO Training
Run by a “bunch of digital marketing nerds,” ClickMinded offers this paid-for course, which has helped “8,702 startups, agencies, entrepreneurs and students learn SEO, get higher rankings, and more traffic.” It also promises to “10X your traffic from Google.”
Finishing with a certification exam, the training includes the fundamentals of how SEO works, an introduction to useful SEO tools, how to implement the ClickMinded Search Framework to any search engine (Google, Yelp, Amazon, Pinterest, YouTube, Quora, etc.), keyword research advice, an introduction to the Google Search Console, and much more. ClickMinded also offers training in paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, sales funnels, and web analytics.
This SEO certification course is best for: Non-technical people who want to learn technical SEO
Cost: $997 for this course; $1,997 for a bundle of all seven ClickMinded digital marketing courses
Advanced Google Analytics
While Google doesn’t offer SEO certifications, the Google Analytics Academy does provide a series of analytics courses, including this one on advanced analytics.
The course covers how data gets collected and processed into readable reports and using configurations, including Custom Dimensions, Custom Metrics, and Event Tracking to collect data specific to a participant’s business. More advanced analysis techniques include using segmentation, channel reports, audience reports, and custom reports. The course also covers marketing strategies such as remarketing and dynamic remarketing, showing ads to customers who have visited your website.
The four lessons are broken down into data collection and processing, setting up data collections and configuration, advanced analysis tools and techniques, and advanced marketing tools. The course content takes four to six hours to complete.
Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics courses are intended to prepare participants to take the exam for Google Analytics IQ (GAIQ) certification.
This SEO certification course is best for: Intermediate SEO practitioners who have completed Google Analytics for Beginners
Fundamentals of Digital Marketing
Fundamentals of Digital Marketing is one of the online courses offered by Google Digital Garage, which covers training for digital marketing, data and tech, and careers. This course is broken down into 26 modules and takes about 40 hours to complete, with a certification offered after completing a 40-question exam. The course is accredited by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University.
Each of the learning modules includes a “bite-sized” video tutorial, with a quick quiz at the end to test knowledge. Learned skills include analytics and data insights, business strategy, content marketing, display advertising, e-commerce, email marketing, SEM, SEO, social media, video, and others.
This SEO certification course is best for: Marketing beginners
Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training
Market Motive, an internet marketing training company, offers this advanced SEO course to help “master the process of organically driving traffic to your website by learning critical components such as keyword research, on-page and off-page optimization, and SEO analytics.”
The course is provided in self-paced training and online boot camp formats aimed at marketing managers; digital marketing executives; content writers; marketing and sales professionals; management, engineering; business communications graduates; entrepreneurs, and business owners.
Some key features of the advanced SEO training include 30-plus hours of self-paced videos, more than 15 hours of live instructor-led online classes, and 20 real-life, industry-based projects. To get certification in advanced SEO, you need to complete three projects and one simulation test with a minimum score of 60%. No requirements are demanded to take the course, but the company advises anyone interested to do its SEO foundations course first.
This SEO certification course is best for: Marketing professionals with intermediate experience
Cost: $599 for self-paced learning; $999 for the online boot camp
The Blueprint Training for SEO Professionals
The Blueprint is a platform that offers SEO training for industry beginners to seasoned professionals. They’ve designed courses that help with end-to-end agency management — ranging from acquiring clients to conducting a comprehensive SEO audit.
Their courses can be completed a la cart or bundled, depending on your needs. Topics range from more operational (e.g., client onboarding and agency staffing) to client deliverables (e.g., keyword research and technical SEO). Their site showcases which courses are free or require a fee, allowing you to see what a class is like before making a larger investment.
Some benefits of the full training bundle include access to all training modules on their platform, exclusive webinars from industry experts, and access to a private Slack community filled with like-minded professionals.
This SEO certification course is best for: Marketing professionals looking to explore or expand their SEO service offerings
Cost: Free to $2,999 for the full training bundle
What’s the Best Way to Learn SEO?
Taking courses and getting SEO certifications can be important if you are a beginner who wants to learn in a structured format, led by SEO experts, or are a working professional who wants to update their credentials or learn new skills and best practices in the fast-shifting market.
The best course and certification depend on you — your existing experience and what gaps you need to fill. Are you a beginner who needs a general course on all the fundamentals? Or are you an experienced practitioner who wants to take their game to the next level?
Perhaps you need to focus your training on specific skills, such as keyword research, link building, site audits, content marketing, on-page, and technical SEO, and the list goes on.
The chances are that you will be best served not by the one SEO course you take and certification you get, but by taking a variety of courses to fill in your knowledge gaps and help you grow into an experienced SEO professional and digital marketer.
Become SEO Certified
While SEO courses and certificates are important to your development, they will not make you an SEO expert. They will play just a part in your overall development. True expertise comes through a combination of training or learning, experience, and, most importantly, getting outstanding results for real-world businesses.
If you want the kind of proven industry instruction and certifications that can make a real difference to every stage of your career as an online marketer or SEO specialist, browse these free online digital marketing courses and free training certification exams, and optimize yourself for success.