7 Best SEO Certifications: Are They Worth It? – Search Engine Journal

Are SEO certifications worth it? If you’re looking to enter the SEO industry or expand your skills, should you get an SEO certification?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This one’s not technically an SEO certification but features SEO modules, including modules about search ads and local search.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Featured Image: Ground Picture/Shutterstock
SEO content writer and editor for 6+ years. Formerly a live theater professional. Bumbling through fatherhood. I’m fascinated by how …
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