Google accredited SEO courses – Sorry

by Peter Young on August 21, 2009 · 4 comments

I was disappointed to read Lisa Myers earlier post regarding the Reed Learning SEO course which due to a ‘misunderstanding’ appears to have not got the Google accreditation they were expecting as Lisa explained below

Google don’t want to be associated with any SEO courses and didn’t agree to endorse this course as part of the Google Marketing Academy. Silly us, we must have imagined it all. Sarcasmn aside, Google says no and we all have to abide, whether they previously agreed or not.

It seems a bit of a shame, and to a certain degree a missed opportunity on Googles part, particularly when one considers the level of support and engagement provided to our paid search counterparts. Yes, organic search doesn’t make Google money – however there are commercial reasons in my opinion as to why ignoring SEO practitioners possibly isnt the best recourse.

The Google productset

Google are bringing more and more products to the table, from the integration of plus box results into the mainstream paid search listings, to the potential launch of the Google Real Estate channel currently being trialled in the US and the Australia (something for those who haven’t seen I would highly suggest looking at.

With the best will in the world, many of these technologies are based around feeds, something that always sits more comfortably with more technology savvy SEO’s who often utilise and produce feeds as part of their day to day roles. Thats not to say their arent very technologically savvy paid search proffesionals, however many PPC specialists are more familiar with creative and bid strategies than RSS and XML.

I would thus suggest many of these types of roles fall under the remit of the SEO, working alongside their PPC counterparts to produce a cohesive holistic search strategy, one which encapsulates best practise PPC and SEO at its heart but also integrates news, products, video and feed based technologies.

There is no getting away from it. An SEO’s role is hugely diverse. We don’t just operate on optimising on-page changes,  we don’t just acquire links, SEO has multiple touch points which can cross lines with paid search, PR and even advertising.

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

One critisism of the SEO industry has often been its level of professionalism, something which I should add has changed significantly over time, however I can’t personally help thinking here was a significant opportunity missed from that perspective. Whilst I understand Google is not going to give away the secrets to its algorithm, one could suggest that there is enough content out there already produced by Google to support the development of such a course without being seen to condone or support any particular factor of its organic search framework.

This is also unlikely to produce a framework of ‘Google clones’ however what it would at least do is provide a framework for entry level professionals of best practise SEO according to Google guidelines with particular reference to specific examples, some of which could be highlighted below

How do you use Webmaster Tools?

Are links in footers treated differently than paragraph links?

By no means, advanced SEO but to someone entering the trade its a step in the right direction and one that Google use to good effect through the GAP and GAAC frameworks (ie we are not telling you how to do it – but this is best practise)

Accreditation or no accreditation

This isn’t just an issue Google has (as to whether accreditation/association with an SEO course is good), but also one the industry itself has debated many a time (and something my fellow Manchester SEO colleague Ben McKay debated recently on Dave Naylors blog. One of the responses to that post raised an interesting point

To do a professional certification right – even just certifying knowledge – requires a lot of resources. There’s just no significant demand from SEO practitioners for that.

This has also been coupled with the argument thats what is best practise for one, is not best practise for another, however the integration of Google in such a process would at least provide a basic framework for such a scheme.

To conclude

I would suggest that pure Google accreditation from Google without significant thought is ripe for abuse (lets face it us SEO’s are not known for doing things in moderation – one only has to look at the subdomain, twitter api frameworks to see that) however I personally can’t help thinking that simply stepping away from SEO’s is not the best route to sail down.

[The views expressed in this post are those of Peter Young and not those of his employers]

Google+ Comments

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben McKay August 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Shame that we’re seeing a shift away from this accreditation…would have been interesting to see how it played-out.

You can see some agencies totally embracing it as a USP (over the educational value), along with clients liking the fact that they are getting an introductory course from the source (the biggest advantage in my mind at this time) but others may just see it in a more cynical light (maybe one whereby they feel like they are devaluing the SEO practitioner).

Peter Young August 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I dont disagree as regards the potential concerns that could be attached to getting involved in the course, however as I said in the piece above to me it feels like a bit of an opportunity lost in terms of engagement with SEO’s rather than keeping them at arms length – which is often how it comes across (whether or not that actually does occur is another matter)

Lisa D Myers August 22, 2009 at 5:02 pm

well said Pete, and my thoughts exactly. I must admit I was quite surprised when I got approached in the first place by Reed Learning to find that the SEO course was part of the Google Academy accredited by Google. It was a bit too good to be true, but as I went through the tutour approval process with Reed I thought “seems all this is signed off with Google”. It’s no way they wouldn’t have approved all the documentation and promotional material about these courses. I actually believed, as you said, that they have finally opened their eyes to working with SEOs in teaching people best practice SEO advice. It’s not like people would actually think that this course would give away the secrets to search engine algorithms. The Google teams teach best practice SEO all the time at conferences, heck they even published a Best Practise SEO pdf last year!!??! (which raised a few eyebrows I seem to remember). Anyway, there is no way they will go back on their decision. But you are right, it is a shame. But hey, I’m still doing the course, and now I don’t need to hold back, I can share more, at least :)

Again thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, very good points.

PI October 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Shame that we’re seeing a shift away from this accreditation…would have been interesting to see how it played-out.

You can see some agencies totally embracing it as a USP (over the educational value), along with clients liking the fact that they are getting an introductory course from the source (the biggest advantage in my mind at this time) but others may just see it in a more cynical light (maybe one whereby they feel like they are devaluing the SEO practitioner).

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