Today, I heard that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) announced their new Certifification Program in Search Engine Marketing. Basically, people will be able to be trained by Search Engine Marketers (who all have long years of experience, according to Lee Odden) and then pass a test in order to be “certified”…

From their press release:

Marketers seeking DMA certification will be required to apply to the program and gain acceptance, successfully complete coursework, pass an exam, and complete ongoing recertification.

DMA’s certification program is the first program developed by a major marketing association designed to train and certify the level of competency of in-house and agency marketers. Members of the DMA involved with program development include marketers, media properties, and search engines.

The program will include two levels of certification:

· Level 1: Designed for individuals able to work under the direction of an advanced search engine marketer. These individuals would know and be able to employ current best practices in organic or paid search marketing.

· Level 2: Designed for individuals who are capable of devising, creating, and managing effective search engine marketing programs within agencies or as lead members of in-house marketing teams. At this level, individuals can seek advanced certification in organic or paid search.

The word that bugs me here is “certification“. While I think that kind of program can help marketers get a better grasp of Search Engine Marketing, I do not support the certification process. SEM is still a very new field, and I do encourage the kind of education program provided by the DMA.

But I do no think anyone is able to give someone a certification in SEM. SEM is not like Management or Finance, it’s not a science that is constant in time and that has established principles accepted by many. SEM, and especially SEO, isn’t something that you can learn once, receive a certification or a degree, and then, that’s it, you become a topnotch SEO ready to triple the visibility and the revenue of any website.

SEO is not stable. What works today may not work tomorrow. SEO needs ongoing learning, testing, and research. That’s why nobody is able to learn SEO one day and then become good at it for the rest of his life. And that’s why nobody can claim to have a certification in SEO/M.

If I were a Director of Marketing looking to hire a SEO or PPC manager, I would not ask you if you have the DMA certification. I will want to hear what you have managed to achieve for your clients and I will ask how you think you can improve the visibility of my website.

That’s for these reasons that I cannot support the “Certification” process offered by the DMA. The education program is alright, but please, do not tell people that you will give them a certification. That just sounds wrong.

3 Responses to “DMA Offering Search Marketing Certification: That Just Sounds Wrong to Me…”

    You have a good point with: “SEO needs ongoing learning, testing, and research.” But, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t the DMA press release say: “…and complete ongoing recertification.”?

    You’re right about the term “certification” just doesn’t seem right. How about a “certificate of achievement” or something to that effect. I think DMA and SEMPO shouldn’t be issuing certifications but maybe should be verifying anyone that does. That would entail that they require seo sem certification vendors meet basic standards. SEO Pros doesn’t quite go that far but they do “endorse” two seo sem certification programs, Search Engine College and SEO Research Labs. If any of these assocations could include a work experience component into the fold that would be great. A “certification” without any industry experience is pretty much useless.

    Good point David. Experience and results are essential to check someone’s ability to do SEO.