Search Engine Marketing Certification: Paid Search & SEO

As the half-dozens of regular readers of the Direct Online Marketing™ Blog know, Derrick “McKinley’s Bodyguard” McKee recently came on board to our search team. Before deciding on him I was able to speak with several talented folk.

One was a young woman in school down in Georgia who had studied internet marketing in school and played around with it on the side. She asked where she could get training on learning more while she awaited graduation.

I threw out a few places, giving costs and my 2 cents. After all, I’ve had my search marketing training and certifications over the years and design the training our employees get. But what a perfect opportunity to ask an expert in the arena.


Enter David Temple of the appropriately named SEM Scholar. Among his other identifiers, David’s the Regional Head of Search at neo@ogilvy.com, a small little outfit that’s a subsidiary of the even smaller and less well known OgilvyOne Worldwide. Keep your fingers pressed for them as I’m sure everything’s day to day over there in at least a dozen of their 5 million offices worldwide.

So I put some questions to David to let him educate the young lady and our other readers on the subject of search marketing certification for both search engine optimization and paid search. Author’s note: I added a couple comments marked as such in brackets.

1. What would you recommend to someone new to the industry [like the young woman I interviewed] for paid search?

I think it’s great she asked about places to receive training but I bet you’d have been more impressed if she mentioned some training courses and asked your opinion. Anyone interested in search marketing should be able to do some basic searches to find out what is available for training.

[JBS: This is a good point, and although this particular woman was a pretty good interview and seems pretty sharp, I could do several posts on what not to do on cover letters, resumes, and interviews based on my experience (including personal blunders like using the wrong name for a company in written correspondence!). And it’s not just interviewees who typically have the deck stacked against them. I could share some horror stories about companies and how bad they are about being decent to interviewees. How soon some people forget what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk.]

For paid search the best place to receive training is the search engines themselves[:] Google, Yahoo Ambassador Training and MSN Adcenter Training. [JBS: I inserted links to our certification pages so you could see that we listen to David.] There are also books such as the Winning Results with Google AdWords by Andrew Goodman and Mastering Panama by Mona Elesseily.

2. Same question for search engine optimization – writing and link building.

There are just too many seo training courses and books to mention. One thing that people looking for seo training programs or books should keep in mind is, who are the people involved in developing these courses. I’m sure to leave out a few but here are some better known ones, in no particular order.

SEMPO Institute, Search Engine College, DMA SEM Certification, Bruce Clay’s SEOToolset, Internet Marketing Ninja’s, Search Engine Academy, High Rankings and of course the seo training offered at search conferences such as Search Enigne Strategies, Search Marketing Expo and Pubcon.

There are also some excellent books on the subject of seo and the ones I’ve enjoyed include Bill Hunt’s “Search Marketing, Inc.” (even translated into Chinese), Aaron Wall’s, “SEO Book”, Shari Thurow’s “Search Engine Visibility” and Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin’s “SEO: An Hour A Day”

Most of the above courses and books cover seo writing but there are some books that are specifically focused on that theme. The author’s also provide training or courses of some type. There is Heather Lloyd Martin’s “Succesful Search Engine Copywriting” who offers Success Works SEO Copywriting Training, Karon Thackston’s “Step-by-Step Copywriting Course” and Jill Whalen’s “Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines”.

Again link building is included in many of the above courses and covered in the conferences. If you want to get more in depth I’d recommend contacting some of the following people that focus on link building. Eric Ward [JBS: more on this in a minute], Debra Mastaler, and Justilien Gaspard.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and as I mentioned earlier there are others but these are certainly the courses and people that come to my mind when asked about learning more about the subjects mentioned. Matt Bailey is one person that is very involved in all aspects of seo training. He would be an excellent source if you want to put together a custom training program. He has access to most if not all of the people mentioned above.

3. For a new person, how much emphasis should they place on the credibility that comes along with a certification program versus actual knowledge gained?

I don’t know how much credibility is placed on any seo certification program by employers. Actually employers should be aware that “seo certification” is a misnomer. Since there are no standards in the seo industry and things are changing all the time it is difficult, at best, to state you are seo certified. That being said, I think an
employer would like to see a potential hire has some sort of training but the emphasis should be placed on actual work experience. An SEM company should see a certification for what it’s worth but an employer
hiring someone inhouse should definitely put more emphasis on experience.

4. I believe SEMPO offers student (and military) discounts. Any other programs you’d recommend that also offer student pricing?

Not that I’m aware of but I’m sure if you contacted the sales staff of any program, I’m sure you could get a discount for student or military personnel. I’m all for giving students discounts and even more in favor of military discounts.

5. Amen on our military folks! Finally a very selfish question. We just brought in a person to do search marketing with a good background in sem. We tried contacting Eric Ward to purchase a half day training program, but I guess he’s too busy to cash a check (read: he won’t get back to me and I’m going to feel like a giant jag-off if it turns out God forbid there’s some family or personal reason I’m not aware of…although I’ve tried contacting him a couple times on 2 different occasions…but what do I have to worry about – I’ve never been wrong on calling someone out before).

Any SEO certifications or trainings you’d recommend for someone with an intermediate to advanced background?

[JBS: I purposefully put this in so David would be able to distane himself from my anti-Wardery. No need to take other people down on my ship.]

I certainly can’t address why Eric Ward is not responding as I mentioned him as one of the link building experts above. I think that it’s important to find the right fit for training of someone with an intermediate or advanced background. The first thing to look at is what skill set are you trying to improve. If link building is a weakness then someone like Eric Ward makes sense. If you need help on copywriting or social media then I would find the experts in the field and bring them in for training. It’s easy to find the experts, see who is a regular speaker at search industry events. Do they blog about the subject matter? Do others refer to them when they are answering questions? Are they engaged and helpful in forums? There are plenty of”experts” in the search marketing industry, find one that is a good fit.

Thanks for all the info, David. I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule from halfway across the world!

Thanks Justin for an opportunity to share. Search marketing is on the rise and there’s no shortage of good training out there. It’s important to develop a strategy for sem training and it’s great to see you are thinking about that. Best wishes!

David’s awesome and a really good source for sem training information. Based on my interviews with folks trying to get into this industry, especially in a region where it’s not as…prevalent he says kindly…as say a New York or Los Angeles, I thought this would be a good post to add. Plus it gives me a reason to vent about Eric Ward. Seriously – not even a call back or return email saying I smell and he doesn’t want to do business with my company? At least I assume that’s the reason based on past rejections. I did used to be a garbage man, you know.

Update: One of my biggest passions at the moment is microbrews. One of my next biggest passions is search engine reputation management (SERM). I’ve had two folks mentioned in this post contact me because they’re vigilant on their names. Since I don’t have gold stars to hand out, I’ve written follow ups or added good, non- non-follow links to this post.

Just as a little experiment – if you’re one of the folks or companies listed in this post and you email me or add a comment to this post, I’ll add a link or do something else for you. Just let me know if you’re interested (and that you monitor your name).

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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