SEO Courses – Yes or No?

I am one of those guys who have some serious problem with the SEO certifications available in the market. I wrote a detailed post about it a while back, in which I explained in detail why I hate the word “SEO Certification”.

No one can become a certified Marketing/SEO consultant just because he got a certification from some XYZ SEO course. In order to become the player of the game, one actually needs to practice, share the knowledge and get helped from others. These courses can definitely help you educate but real education can only start when you step in the battle field.

There are literally tons of websites and so called experts I know that offer SEO certifications but most of them do not offer anything valuable. There are few courses that I highly respect so I thought to reach out to them and get the answers of few of the core question that can come in anyone’s mind when thinking of joining any SEO course.

SEO Courses logos


Note: I am including answers of Jon Cooper for his Link building course, Digital Marketing Institute and Market Motive who offer different Digital Marketing courses.


Question 1

Jon: Great question. The difference between my blog & my course is that my blog offers generally new bits of information and creative twists on the same strategies & tactics. For the most part, there’s no real rounded out content on the blog, with the exception of my list of link building strategies. On the other hand, the course has very detailed information on every aspect of link building, and it takes you through the entire process step-by-step. It’s perfect for those who are new to link building & don’t want to visit 20 different sites to get all the information they need, as well as for those looking to train an outsourced team (great to just set the person up with your login & let them learn completely on their own).

Market Motive: Our blog is a channel for us to stay social, give a platform for some of our top graduates to share their insights, to let folks know about our conference schedule, or to highlight our faculty’s new books and keynoting presentations. Tips, tricks, and the latest tweaks to the algorithm are best found on moz, and other reputable news blogs.

Our courses, on the other hand, cover end-to-end components of each discipline, and are constantly-updated. Each of the full-length certification courses comprises a pedagogically structured curriculum, designed to be outcome based, and build on the participant’s progress from beginning to end. Each includes many hours of streaming video lessons, exercises, workbooks, progress quizzes, and challenging final tests.  We invest right back into the costs of updating and producing all these components in unison.

DMI: Reading our blog is a great start, and it’s a fantastic way to keep up with all the new industry insights and updates concerning Search Marketing, including SEO, PPC and Content.

But the Digital Marketing Institute’s education model is built on accreditation and certification, and our new Professional Diploma in Google Search Marketing (PDGSM) will be launched globally this year. And whether taken online or in the classroom, the diploma comes fully accredited.

Here at the Institute, accreditation is something we are passionate about. We believe that all skills and career paths emanating from Digital Marketing, including Search Marketing, need to have certain industry standards/competencies against which individual practitioners of those skills should be measured.

In this developing industry, it remains difficult for prospective employers to make informed decisions when recruiting individual practitioners for specialist Search Marketing roles, because of the lack fully-accredited programmes with competency-based testing.

All DMI programmes, including our Search Marketing Diploma, have been developed and designed by the Digital Industry. Our product development team works with over 100 subject matter experts when designing the course. The content and modules are delivered by practising Search Marketing experts, and our Syllabus Advisory Council (consisting of some of the world’s largest and most influential digital brands) also feeds into our quarterly syllabus updates.

If the Digital Marketing industry (including Search Marketing) wants to mature, it needs to gain similar professional accreditations, similar to those that underpin the accountancy or legal professions. The sector must work to develop recognized international standards, industry-validated accreditation that would allow existing practitioners to consolidate their practical skills.

The Institute ethos and education model is built on becoming that standard. So while reading our free blog makes sense, with our accredited course, you will have recognized industry standards to stand to your name.


Question 2

Jon: Unfortunately I do not, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

Market Motive: We agree! We’ve considered a public community.  For now, participants feel more comfortable sharing their learning process and questions within the learning environment. We have a busy forum within the learning environment for members to interact with one another, and the faculty. Participants ask questions about the curriculum, and about current challenges in their real-world projects.

Participation in Market Motive includes access to this community as well as to all of our courses: SEO, PPC, Social, Analytics, Conversion, Content Marketing, Mobile and (if you need a broad understanding) online marketing fundamentals. Most courses average about 35-40 hours to complete, including associated workbooks, exercises, progress quizzes, and final tests. The exercises encourage the participant to test the strategies they’re learning in the real-world, on their own sites or client projects, so they can see the practical application of their new knowledge.

In addition, members participate in eight live webinars each month where our faculty covers breaking topics, often with guest hosts like Rand Fishkin and Jessica Bowman. We’ve just scheduled an SEO webinar on Hummingbird with Virante’s CTO Ross Jones, and a mobile talk on responsive design with Michael Becker of SOMO. All webinars include a live Q&A session.

Participants in the coached Master courses meet in conference calls with Avinash, Todd Malicoat, and other authors every week to go over projects and assignments. In the Master courses, graduation is dependent in large part on the successful completion of a real-world project specific to the discipline of study, and the faculty is notoriously demanding in their expectations of quality work.

DMI: The Digital Marketing Institute will, by conservative estimates, have educated and certified over 11,000 Digital Marketing practitioners globally by the end of 2014.

Effective Digital Marketing education (including Search Marketing) should not stop at the end of any training programme. In acknowledgement of this, the Digital Marketing Institute has built an alumni programme for all graduates to continue their education in the form of continuous professional development for the duration of their digital careers .

This alumni programme consists of constant, industry relevant updates from our pool of international subject matter experts and DMI graduates. The Digital Marketing community is built on practitioners from all over the world, sharing new ideas and developments within their specialist areas, including Search Engine Optimisation,  Search Engine Marketing (PPC), and Web Analytics, to name but a few. In addition, there will be annual syllabus updates by the DMI, that will allow Digital Marketing professionals to add new and updated certifications to their CV.


Question 3

Jon: They should expect to learn everything from the ground up, and for their questions to be answered in regards to some concepts & ideas which can be difficult to explain.

Market Motive: Because we provide universities with the online marketing portion of MBA curricula, we’ve been asked to provide ramp-up material for people who are only slightly familiar with online marketing.  We map proficiency levels from “Level 1 novice” to “Level 2 conversant” to “Level 3 practitioner” to “Level 4 master” and tie these to a course plan for every level of marketer and experience.

Typically, participants who are completely new to the industry start with the fundamentals course before diving into the deep end of our specialty certification courses. We have a very high-level primer course that helps the Level 1 novice understand the differences in the various disciplines.

We have a robust 20 hour Digital Marketing Foundations course designed to enable Level 2 broad knowledge of the components of each discipline. It’s great for managers or business owners who need to have a sound understanding about how all the specialties work together. Agencies love this level for all consultants and it is very popular with sales teams who must sell digital marketing services. The integrated overview develops a common vocabulary graduates can use to interact meaningfully with contractors or department leads.

And the full-length specialty courses are challenging enough for experienced professionals, but organized in a way that even someone unfamiliar with the material — if they’re committed to buckling down and doing all the recommended exercises, worksheets and quizzes — will be able to tough it out and come through with an extremely competitive skill set.

We have a number of short elective courses on specialty subjects, so if they’ve got focused challenges like SEO copy writing, or seasonal PPC issues, or Facebook marketing, they can get in and out of a niche course quickly.

DMI: Our educational philosophy is to ‘build the digital economy one person at a time’.

Our programmes are suitable for everyone; from the most advanced Search Marketing experts looking to add a relevant professional accreditation to their practical experience, to individuals who have little or no experience of managing Search Marketing campaigns. The Professional Diploma in Google Search Marketing (PDGSM) is designed to take a student from a beginner’s level  and give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop a career as a Search Marketing specialist.


Question 4

Jon: Almost all of my information is rooted in concepts & ideas that are really the foundations of link building. I don’t concern myself with things that are frequently changing; i.e. what anchor text ratio should we be aiming for this month. With that said, I plan to do periodical updates with new information, and have plans to do one soon (it’s been delayed unfortunately, but still plans to roll it out ASAP).

Market Motive: We have enough licensees and subscribers to enable us to pay our faculty to constantly update the lessons and courses.  Our faculties are all recognized working professionals who are in the trenches with small business and Enterprise customers every day, so they see changes in the industry firsthand as they happen; and they’re dedicated to updating their lessons to keep them relevant.  Because our faculty must teach their own courses, we are constantly combing our material for updates and changes.

We have a full time production staff focused on maintaining the courses, updating the workbooks, quizzes, and tests, and editing and publishing the new teaching materials as video lessons. It’s a lot of work, but our customers make it possible!

For example, this last month, we’ve published 23 completely new video lessons and updated over 40 existing video lessons. Enhanced Campaigns, for instance, recently prompted a thorough overhaul of much of our PPC course, and we just integrated Hummingbird into our SEO course.

DMI: The Digital Marketing Institute is setting the global standard in Digital Marketing education. This standard has taken time and commitment to build – five years and counting.

The education model is industry-led, but also incorporates the very best aspects of academic education (learning outcomes, structured syllabi and proper certification/accreditation.) The DMI has built a Digital Marketing education model with enough resources and depth to keep it up to date with the latest advances in technology in a constantly changing industry. Through our international network of subject matter experts and our Syllabus Advisory Council, our product development team ensures that all of our courses are updated in a controlled and structured way.


Thank you Jon, Mark and Chip for answering my questions in detail. I believe this post will clear lot of misconception that people have in mind with reference to SEO courses and at the same time this will help people who are in the state of deciding if they should take any digital marketing/SEO course or not!

Few things that are pretty much clear from the answers are:

  • There is no such thing as certification and you cannot really make clients fool from any piece of paper that says “Certified SEO”.
  • SEO courses are great in terms of learning new stuff but, if you aren’t practicing it, you are doing it wrong.
  • If the websites offering SEO courses are not transparent, then you probably should avoid investing your money there.

So, planning to join any SEO course?

About the author


By profession and by hobby I am a SEO Consultant, a search blogger and a link builder, all in one. I am writing across websites all the time, I love working with people from all over the world.


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  • Good post Moosa. One of the first things I did when setting up my agency was get my core team certified in various disciplines from Market Motive. The goal was not really the “certification” itself but the fact that a novice would easily be able to grasp the structured knowledge presented in these courses and familiarize themselves with industry jargon that may be new to them. In that case it was worth the investment. However, the only people that truly excelled were the ones that were able to take that learning and apply it and most importantly, dig deeper into it AFTER the certification was over,

    • It is great to hear a comment from a person who actually
      tried a course mentioned above. Actually investing in an SEO course only worth
      when you try to implement the tactics in the real life or else it’s a waste of
      time and money!

  • Good post, and I completely agree that a “SEO Certification” is worthless. What’s important is to have the actual skill and expertise. The industry of SEO is changing so rapidly, a formal accreditation would become useless almost immediately. FULL DISCLOSURE: I work for an online education ( – but have found their free courses on SEO to be quite helpful.

  • Thanks so much for including us in your post, Moosa! We love to see thoughtful, informed discussions about digital marketing training. We agree, neither structured training or certification is for everyone, but resources like this blog will help folks find what they need.

    Rishadullah Shaikh, we’re so glad our training has helped you build a stronger team. And Adam, we’re big fans of Udemy. You’ve got some great materials on there, both free and paid.

    Happy New Year, everyone.

  • Good thoughts! I personally thinks these courses are good for starters who are not self-learners or someone who wants to keep updated with industry norms but don’t get time to read updates. Before conducting course it should be the responsibility of trainer to set expectations.

    SEO is the field of experiments and attending only courses can not help you in field. Good thing about SEO industry is that they are open for discussion always.

  • Hi Moosa. Now i am really scared of blogging. In past i was copy pasting and rewriting content of others. But google penalized me badly. Now i am creating original content with my own image screenshots, but i have noticed that google penalized me again. Whlile my blog is new. Blog name: any suggestions?

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