For more than two years I’ve been privately (well, at least not very loudly) advocating for a standards designation for search engine marketers. I don’t want regulations. I don’t want someone telling me I can’t do a certain tactic. But I do want to have a way to show that I’m not like the SEO who spams you three times weeks with guarantees of tremendous rankings or the “guru” who can teach you how to do search engine marketing over the weekend so you can make your first million.
The topic of SEO Certification certainly seems to bring out the most vile protests from the SEO community. I get it. We’re all rebels. We don’t want authority to bring us down. We want to grow our hair long and rock and roll all night….
But here is the bottom line – to most people you are seen in the same Spam boat as the Gurus and the Spammers. There has to be a compromise – something so that we can legitimately claim that we know our stuff – yet aren’t limited when we do “occasionally” recommend an off-color tactic for a client that really needs a boost (with the client having complete knowledge of the risks, no doubt).
Let’s think about the Real Estate industry. I don’t have to be a Realtor to sell real estate. I can sell my own house if I want to. Some people are adamant that using a Realtor doesn’t help at all. I’m not going to argue that – but what I will argue that the Realtor distinction has LEGITIMATE VALUE for it’s practitioners. There are many who wouldn’t consider selling real estate without a Realtor. Realtors are required to have continuing education – and if a Realtor really screws up, there are real ramifications and they can lose their Realtor status. Doesn’t mean they can’t continue to sell Real Estate, they just aren’t a Realtor anymore.
This model could work for the SEO world – not so much in-house SEO, but those of that sell search marketing to clients. But a certified (verified, legit, practiced, whatever you want to call it) SEO would be required to have a basic knowledge of current SEO tactics. Continuing education would be required. There would be a governing body that provides mediation between SEOs and disgruntled clients.
And right now, the best organization to do this is SEMPO.
I have respect for SEMPO, but I think that what they are doing now, with creating meetups internationally and putting out research that nobody of importance reads, is not in-line with truly helping the SEO community. From what I hear (completely unsolicited) most people who aren’t involved with SEMPO agree with me. I think that SEMPO has a real opportunity to legitimize SEM and SEO with a designation like the Real Estate folks have.
I’m sure I’ll hear other thoughts on this – but I hope I can at least bring up a discussion.