While Google does publish detailed guidelines covering best practices for search engine optimization, or SEO, it does not provide any formal SEO Certification or Professional designation. In a recent Google Hangout Gary Illyes, webmaster trends analyst at Google, confirmed that they had no intention to do so in the future.
Google already has several certification programs, including Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and Google Apps. Furthermore, there is a whole range of Trainer programs at Google for a variety of topics including Gmail, Google Docs, websites, and Calendar. It would “appear” that an extension of these programs into the world of SEO is a logical step.
Despite there being a precedent for an SEO Certification program (based on other programs run by them), it is evident that a broad concept such as SEO is much different to certifications on specific products. Furthermore, Google has always tried to be somewhat general in its advice given to webmasters and refer them to the Guidelines where appropriate. If they were to create a Certification Program for SEO, they might have to go into more detail. With their constant battle against Black-hat SEO and Spammers, divulging too much information could easily make maintaining Search Quality much more challenging.
Illyes discussed the matter in a Hangout with Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen or Stone Temple Consulting, he confirmed that they had discussed it internally at Google, but always ended “up with the conclusion that we shouldn’t do it”. Gary further expanded on several commercial reasons why it was a bad idea:
If we endorse SEOs, then that would also mean that we would have to perhaps train them which would be nonsense, first of all, it wouldn’t be scalable to train that many people. Second, if we do go down that path, then we will have to hire more people, which costs money, and we would have to get that money back somehow so we would have to ask for money. Search doesn’t ask for money for anything, there is already a conflict there.
The important point here is that Organic Search should remain free. You should not have to pay Google to get any advantage in the Organic Search, such as paying for an exclusive listing or insider knowledge. We suspect Google will continue to support webmasters through general guidelines, community events (such as Hangouts, Community Forums), and tools (such as the Search Console), but all of these things will be available to the entire SEO community, free of charge.
This was clarified later by Gary on Twitter:
@rustybrick like you don't actually pay google anything to be in the search results
— Gary Illyes (@methode) February 11, 2016
Illyes concluded by stating that “my short answer is no, we will not have that anytime soon.”
You can view the relevant part of the Hangout below: