3 Things to Know About SEO for Nonprofits

Effective search engine optimization is just as important for nonprofits as for other sectors. Here’s some advice to help you master it for yours.

Your cause is admirable. Whether through personal investment or a simple desire to help, you want to change the world for the better. To succeed, however, you’re going to need more than good intentions. You need to understand how to get the word out about your cause — how to draw in prospective donors and differentiate yourself from competing nonprofits in your sector. 

Search engine optimization is absolutely crucial in that regard. 

“People who care about a social issue or cause are very likely to use search engines to find relevant information about it,” reads a blog post by strategic design firm Forum One. “Having your site listed within the top results can increase visibility and drive in relevant, high-quality traffic.  Together, with the right content and calls-to-action on your web pages, search engine optimization (SEO)  is one of the best ways to spread your mission’s story.” 

Right. We’ve established the importance of SEO to your nonprofit. But how exactly can you implement it in a way that furthers your cause? 

Let’s talk about that — here are three things you need to know about SEO in the nonprofit sector. 

Content is King

In the early days of SEO, tactics such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link farming were a legitimate means of traffic generation. These days, they won’t get you anywhere. On the contrary, they’re far likelier to get your site hit with massive penalties. 

Google doesn’t care if a page is an exact match for a particular keyword or keyphrase. What it cares about is if that page matches both the phrase and the intent behind it. See, while keywords and the like are still important, content is what truly matters. 

So with that in mind, compelling content is and will always remain your best bet and bringing in donations and generating buzz. Craft content that meshes with what your audience wants to see, and you might be surprised at the impact it has. Examples include: 

  • Newsletters and posts that update donors about the progress of your initiatives
  • Information about your cause
  • Guidelines for how people can contribute if they don’t have money to donate
  • Educational resources around your cause

Local SEO Is a Powerful Tool

Unless you’re a major, international nonprofit, there’s a good chance that the vast majority of your donors are going to be from your city or region. For that reason, it’s imperative that you master local SEO. The good news is that this isn’t especially difficult.

You just need to make sure you’ve seen to the following:  

  • Create a Google My Business page for your charity with as much information as possible. 
  • Make sure you have Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) information on every single page of your site. It should be extremely easy for prospective donors to get in touch with you. 
  • Optimize your content with city or region-specific keywords and references. 

There’s No Substitute for Knowing Your Audience

Who are your donors? Why do they support your cause? What can you do to inspire them to donate? 

These are the three most important questions for any nonprofit to answer. Knowledge of your audience is the foundation of all marketing, from SEO to content creation to social outreach. You can craft the perfect narrative to get your donors on board and keep them invested if you understand what motivates them. 

Making The Right Choices

You want to change the world for the better. The first step is getting the word out about your cause. SEO is the best way to do that.

And now, you have some basic knowledge to get you started in that regard. 

What Can You Do if Google Displays The Wrong Title on the SERP?

We’ve received a sobering reminder that no matter what we do, our search engine optimization efforts are ultimately at Google’s mercy. At least that’s the message the search engine giant sent in August. Midway through the month, SEO experts noticed some massive changes to how titles were generated on the search engine results page, as reported by Search Engine Journal.

Rather than pulling SERP headlines from a page’s title tag, Google instead began replacing them with everything from H1 tags to anchor text from internal links. Per Search Engine Land, it didn’t take long for the company to confirm that yes, it had indeed changed how SERP titles were generated. It claimed that its algorithms now generate titles that describe what a page is actually about — regardless of the query or title tag.

There’s just one problem. Evidence suggests that, at least in this case, those algorithms aren’t exactly working as intended. Some of the changes seem, to put it bluntly, absolutely nonsensical — one expert noted an instance where they replaced a page’s title text with copy from a completely different page.  

At first glance, this seems like a huge problem. After all, what’s the point of planning out metadata like title tags if Google is simply going to ignore it? As is often the case, however, there’s a bit more going on here than one might at first assume.

First and foremost is the fact that, according to Google, 80% of results will still use your title tag on the SERP. This means that instances where Google uses a different or ‘wrong’ tag will be relatively rare. Google further lists a few specific cases in which it will replace the title tag:

  • It’s too long
  • It’s stuffed with keywords
  • It’s boilerplate, containing generic copy or lacking keywords

“A focus on good HTML title tags remains valid,” the company maintains. “Our main advice…to site owners remains the same. Focus on creating great HTML title tags. Of all the ways we generate titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used.” 

Further, as noted by SEO expert Brodie Clark, most scenarios in which Google replaces a page’s title tags actually end up being beneficial.  For the most part, the changes end up being an improvement, providing “a better preview of the content to come.” And in the rare cases where they end up being detrimental, a site owner’s best bet is to take a step back and re-evaluate.

And more importantly, to double-check that their existing HTML titles follow SEO best practices.  

5 Excellent Tips To Help You Do SEO on a Budget

Search engine optimization needn’t break the bank. If you know what you’re doing, it can be done without spending a cent. Here are some tips to help you do so.

Search engine optimization (SEO) need not break the bank — and anyone who tries to tell you it does is in all likelihood trying to sell you something. While it’s certainly true that there’s no shortage of premium SEO tools available, they mostly just cut down on a lot of work you’d otherwise need to do manually. And while there are certainly SEO firms that can do an excellent job of managing your website, you don’t strictly need them in order to succeed. 

It’s entirely possible to take care of all the SEO on your website while barely spending a cent — here are some tips to help you do exactly that. 

Leverage Your Own Expertise With a Blog

Here’s a question for you — what are you good at? What skills do you possess that the layperson lacks? What might you be able to teach others if you took the opportunity to share your expertise? 

Whatever your business or industry, you’re bound to know something you can share with your audience. Something they might be interested in learning. Translating that into a thought leadership blog could be a valuable means of bringing in new traffic, particularly if you’re keyed into the kinds of questions your audience is asking. 

Use Any of a Number of Free SEO Tools

Just because there’s such a wealth of premium tools available on the web, that doesn’t mean you’re completely adrift if you don’t use them. There are actually quite a few free tools that can help you achieve most of what you could with a paid subscription if used in tandem with one another. Some examples include: 

Draw in Traffic With User-Generated Content

Depending on your industry, you might actually be able to create some buzz on social media through your audience itself. Not only will this show other people that you have an audience engaged enough to actively work with your brand, but it also shows that your brand is trustworthy and open to conversation. Plus, if a contest or campaign on social media goes viral, you’re looking at a massive influx of traffic. 

Pay Attention to Local SEO

Local SEO is unique in that it doesn’t actually require much in the way of expenditure. All you really need to do is fill out your Google My Business page. Once that’s done, simply ensure you have your business’s name, address, and phone number on each page of your website, and keep an eye on local reviews. 

Manually Take Care of Internal SEO

For most smaller websites, internal/technical SEO isn’t terribly difficult to manage. Particularly if you’re using a content management system like WordPress, you’ll have access to multiple plugins that allow you to take care of everything from website performance to mobile friendliness to your sitemap. And if you’re uncertain where to start, tutorials like Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO can be a great help.  

Exploring the Link Between Marketing and Psychology

What do marketing and psychology have to do with one another? A great deal more than you might expect. In many ways, they’re two sides of the same coin.

Ask anyone who works in marketing why they decided to pursue that particular career path, and you’ll receive a multitude of answers. 

Some people will maintain that they enjoy the opportunity to flex their creativity; they enjoy the fact that they essentially are paid to create art. Others enjoy the mercurial nature of the profession, the fact that no two days are exactly the same. Still, more love how fast-paced the industry tends to be and that it allows them to blaze from one deadline to the next (often procrastinating until the last minute all the while). 

But one of the most common answers is that marketing involves people. 

Figuring out how an audience thinks and what they want. Determining the best way to build a relationship between a brand and its customers. Crafting compelling messaging that fascinates people enough to convert. 

In other words, getting inside each consumer’s mind and figuring out how they think, how they feel, what they’re interested in, and ultimately, what makes them tick. There’s something exciting about that. And something is satisfying about finishing a project and watching as it successfully creates engagement. 

The connection between marketing and psychology is about more than satisfaction, though. Learning more about how people think goes a long way towards being better at your job. The deeper your understanding of the human mind, the more effective your marketing will become. 

As it stands, there are already multiple psychological principles underlying the profession — you probably even encounter several of them in your day-to-day without realizing it: 

  • Priming. Exposure to one stimulus influences how you react to another. This comes into play with everything from a brand’s language to the colors/layout of its website. 
  • Social proof. The idea is that people make decisions based on the actions of others. Social shares, reviews, and word-of-mouth marketing are all examples of social proof in play. 
  • Reciprocity. When someone gives you a gift or does a good deed, you feel compelled to return the favor.  Most commonly comes into play with free gifts/offers. 
  • Loss aversion. Simply put, when given a choice between loss and gain, people will choose to gain. In marketing, this might involve selling subscription services or free trials. 
  • Anchoring bias. The first piece of information someone sees will influence how they evaluate further information. This is why most stores display the original price of a product next to the sale price. 
  • Verbatim effect. People are likely to remember the gist of what they’ve been told rather than the exact wording. 
  • Scarcity. People are likely to make a snap decision on a purchase if what they’re buying is of limited quantity. They’re also likely to rank a scarcer product more highly. 
  • Decoy effect. When a customer is choosing between two options, the introduction of a third, less compelling option will make them likelier to choose a more expensive option. 
  • Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Essentially, this refers to selective attention. When you see or hear about a particular product, you’re likely to start noticing it in advertisements and the like.
  • Clustering. The tendency of people to group similar words and concepts together in their short-term memory. 

What we’ve listed above is just a small sampling. There are other concepts at play, as well. But that should be enough to give you an idea of how much interplay there is between the two disciplines. And with that, we’ll leave off with a bit of advice on how you can amp up your knowledge of psychology to become a better marketing professional. Here’s the good news. Especially in the wake of COVID, there are a ton of free educational resources available online to help you learn more about the human mind — we recommend EdX in particular.

How Will Augmented Reality Influence The Future of Search Engine Optimization?

From a marketing standpoint, augmented reality is one of the most exciting technologies currently in development. And it’s going to change how we do SEO.

No one expected the runaway success of Pokemon Go. How for a few brief, glorious months, fans both young and old took to the parks and streets, exploring their towns and cities in an effort to catch them all. A few savvy businesses were able to tap into the craze, but for the most part, the marketing potential of the game went largely unfulfilled. 

Believe it or not, Pokemon Go is still going strong today, even during the pandemic. A few competitors have even popped up in the interim. But these are all simply a sign of things to come.

Augmented reality has potential that goes well beyond mobile games. Imagine the following: 

  • Using your phone to visualize how furniture might look in your home or to see how you might look in a new outfit. 
  • Scanning a piece of computer hardware with your camera to see a list of specs along with recommended components to pair it. 
  • Viewing the calorie count and ingredients of what you’re eating simply by snapping a photo. 
  • Being able to immediately pull up reviews, social chatter, business listings, and other information on a business simply by pointing a device at the storefront. 

These are all within the realm of possibility. Google and its competitors in the artificial intelligence space have been making significant strides in object recognition. And the technology to introduce AR to our lives beyond smartphone apps already exists.

Remember Google Glass? On paper, it was an incredibly promising piece of tech. That it failed can very likely be chalked up to it being slightly ahead of its time — a product introduced to its audience before they were ready to consider its potential. 

At this point, it seems likely that in the very near future, we will see similar technologies to Google Glass, and this time, they won’t fall flat for a few reasons: 

As you may have already guessed, AR will have the most significant impact on local SEO. Businesses will have a wealth of new ways to engage with their audience, an entirely new marketing channel through which they can bring in prospects. And Google, for its part, will be a driving force behind this evolution, just as it’s steered the future of search up to this point.

Has Facebook Become Too Volatile Even for Marketers?

Facebook has effectively become the poster child for everything wrong with social media. But does that mean it’s no longer a suitable marketing tool?

The past few years haven’t exactly been great for Facebook. The social media organization has seen itself rocked by multiple scandals, including, per NPR, being called out by its own oversight board for the sorry state of its decision making. And that’s to say nothing of the fear, uncertainty, anger, and misinformation currently running riot through the social network. 

While Facebook certainly made a good show of accepting feedback and addressing how it deals with community standards violations, it remains to be seen if those efforts have borne any fruit. Just last year, 40% of respondents to a Canadian Internet Authority survey indicated that Facebook is the most toxic social network on the Internet, with 63% indicating they do not feel safe from harassment. And per BBC, false information is still on the social network, despite the company’s stated commitment to curbing its spread. 

It’s clear at this point that something about the social network is fundamentally broken — and there’s no singular cause. 

One might point to the fact that Facebook relies too much on artificial intelligence to enforce its rules. Time and again, Facebook’s community standards AI has completely failed at its stated purpose. It allows homophobia, transphobia, and racism to skirt under the radar — case in point, Snopes reports that QAnon still thrives on the social network more than a year after Facebook publicly announced it would remove such content.

Worse still, when those posts are manually reported, the response, contradictorily, is that they do not violate community standards. Meanwhile, the algorithm, absent human guidance and incapable of understanding context, comes down like a hammer on people of color discussing their experiences with racism (USA Today).  Two months ago, an anti-trans post on Instagram, one of Facebook’s subsidiaries, led to open violence, according to The Guardian

Not that Facebook’s human moderators are any better. According to The Verge, content moderators for the social network are underpaid, overworked, and lack access to even basic mental health services. All this while moderating some of the most troubling, traumatizing content Facebook has to offer. 

One might also point to the fact that if you encounter any serious issues with Facebook and require any help, you’re out of luck. Facebook still does not employ customer support staff — making it perhaps the only major tech company to take such a hands-off approach. It’s bad enough that, as reported by Techdirt, hacked Facebook users had to buy a $300 VR headset just to talk to a human being

The truth is that Facebook’s current state is a perfect storm of all the above factors forcibly colliding with the myriad stressors of the pandemic. And the result? From a marketing standpoint, it’s one of the most volatile channels on the Internet. 

Consider last year, when per Input, multiple major brands abandoned the platform due to its inaction over hate speech. Or there’s a December 2020 piece from Bloomberg which saw testimony from multiple advertisers harmed by arbitrary punishments, nonsensical ad rejections, and unjustified lockouts. Or Adweek’s report earlier this month that Facebook is flagging lingerie ads as nudity.  

As if having to contend with the inconsistent algorithm isn’t bad enough, there’s a good chance that, at this point, your marketing might not even reach a receptive audience. In a poll published last August, analyst Pew Research found that 55% of U.S. social media users felt ‘worn out’ by political posts. Brandwatch’s 2020 Consumer Tech Report, meanwhile, saw a 41% increase in mentions of social media fatigue over just ten months.

So, to summarize: 

  • Facebook’s community has grown increasingly volatile, marked by frequent arguments and heated political debates. 
  • Facebook’s inconsistent community standards algorithm appears to apply arbitrary judgments without regard for context, impacting regular users and marketers. 
  • People on Facebook are frustrated and exhausted, and therefore much less amenable to marketing messages. 

In short, Facebook is no longer the fun, community-driven network it used to be. It’s become something else — something ugly. While there’s arguably still value to be had by establishing a presence there, before long, the drawbacks of Facebook marketing may outweigh the rewards.

At this point, it might just be time to turn your attention to Tik Tok. 

The Critical Link Between User Experience and SEO

A positive user experience impacts more than your conversion rate. It’s actually a ranking factor, and one you need to pay attention to.

User experience has always been crucial, both on the web and off. It influences everything about how users interact with your brand, from conversion rate to brand loyalty. And if your site is not designed with the end user in mind — if visiting is not a positive experience for your audience — then nothing else matters. 

In light of that, it should not come as any great surprise that it’s a ranking factor. Google has long been tweaking its algorithm with the user in mind. Everything from relevance to context to intent boils down to user experience. 

More recently, that culminated in Google’s Page Experience Update. 

What Is The Google Page Experience Update?

Currently, in the process of being rolled out and due to be completed at the end of this month, the page experience updates spins several new metrics into Google’s ranking algorithm, known as Core Web Vitals. These vitals are then measured alongside several other signals, which together are used to assign a page experience score, viewable through the Google Search Console. 

The factors measured as part of the page experience score are as follows: 

  • Core Web Vitals
    • Largest contentful paint. Essentially, this is a measurement of load time. The fast a page loads, the better, but ideally, this should occur within 2.5 seconds, per Google.
    • First input delay. How long after loading a user can interact with a page. Google recommends this score be less than 100 milliseconds. 
    • Cumulative layout shift. This measures a site’s visual stability. 
  • Use of HTTPS (required) 
  • No obvious security issues
  • Usability on mobile devices
  • Lack of intrusive content such as popups
  • Page safety/security

How To Take a UX-Focused Approach to SEO

More than anything else, the Google Page Experience Update provides a benchmark for optimizing the user experience on your website. By following the framework outlined by Google, there’s the opportunity to do more than improve your PageRank — you can potentially improve conversions, as well. So, with that in mind, let’s wrap things up with a bit of advice on what you can do specifically to improve your page experience score. 

  • Prioritize Performance.  Where possible, avoid using any content that could potentially impact performance, such as JavaScript, CSS, and rich media. 
  • Streamline Your Interface. Keep your site simple and easy to navigate, without any unnecessary visual elements. 
  • Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly. Self-explanatory. A mobile-friendly site is non-negotiable in 2021. 
  • Police your ad network. Or simply don’t use an ad network at all. 
  • Make sure you’re using HTTPS. Again, self-explanatory. Security, like mobile usability, is non-negotiable. 

User experience is crucial. It always has been. Just remember that while it’s essential to have a good page experience score, that’s still no substitute for quality content. 

How to Improve Page Speed for SEO

Even before page speed was a ranking factor, it was crucial. A slow website contributes to lost conversions and abandonment. Here’s how you can improve yours.

Page speed has been used as a ranking factor by Google for quite some time now. It’s not difficult to understand why, either. In recent years, every change made to the algorithm has been deployed with one goal in mind — a better user experience. A website that takes too long to load makes for a negative experience. 

These days, our time is at a premium. Our attention is being pulled in a thousand different directions at once. As a result, we’re hyper-sensitive to anything that we feel wastes our time.

And a slow-loading website does precisely that. Although common knowledge technically places the ideal load time at anywhere from two to five seconds, the truth is that faster is always better. As reported by Marketing Dive, even one extra second is enough to make more than half of mobile users abandon a site.  

Suffice it to say; you don’t want that to happen — so with that said, here’s some advice for improving your website’s performance and speed. 

Choose the Right Backend

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you choose a web host that provides you with enough bandwidth to host your site and the capacity to scale as necessary during periods of high demand. You may also want to use a content delivery network, which uses distributed proxy servers to ensure your visitors are always connected to a server that’s geographically nearby. Finally, if you’re using a platform like WordPress, only install plugins you absolutely need. 

The more unnecessary plugins you bog down your backend with, the greater the chance you’ll end up negatively impacting your site’s performance. 

Keep Things Light

Javascript and rich media have one thing in common. They both have the capacity to exponentially increase your load times if they’re used inexpertly. Avoid using them whenever possible, and stick to static content. 

For situations where you absolutely must use JavaScript or CSS, leverage asynchronous loading, which will allow the page to load and render side-by-side with the code. 

As for media content, tone down on animation-heavy interfaces, and compress all images and files. This is especially important for mobile users, who are often on devices and connections with less processing power than many desktop browsers. Finally, do not, under any circumstances, use autoplay video.

Seriously, just don’t do it.

Reuse Page Elements

The more HTTP requests each page on your website requires, the longer it takes for that page to load. As such, especially in the early design phase for your site, you should constantly look for opportunities to streamline things. This may include loading an interface as a single image, using a static background that persists across your website, or even serving the site as a single page. 

Ensure You’re Using Browser Caching

Browser caching is particularly important for repeat visitors to your site. How it works is simple. Previously-loaded static elements are stored in the user’s browser when they visit. When they return to the site, it queries their browser to load those elements near-instantaneously. 

As you might expect, this has a huge (and hugely positive) impact on performance, and significantly improves page response time, particularly if you’re reusing static elements across your site, as we recommended in our previous point. 

Test With Google PageSpeed Insights

Finally, once you’re confident you’ve incorporated all the performance enhancements you can, test your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This will analyze your website’s overall performance, identify any potential bottlenecks, and provide you with suggestions for things you might improve. This is your bread and butter for performance optimization — expect to visit and revisit this page a lot. 

The faster your website loads, the better. Follow the tips outlined here, and keep looking for opportunities to improve. Optimization, after all, is a process — there’s always some new improvement to be made. 

What Makes a Keyword Effective?

Choosing the right keyword can be difficult, but it’s a lot easier if you understand how keywords work and the difference between an effective keyword and an ineffective one.

What’s in a keyword? 

A whole lot more than you might expect. Although quality and relevance are far more important than exact-match keywords, targeting the wrong one can still considerably undercut your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. With that in mind, let’s go over the three core qualities that determine whether a keyword is a winner or a dud. 

Relevance

The best keywords are chosen with their target audience in mind. They account for how that audience talks and thinks and are tailored to the audience’s specific search intent. For instance, let’s say your business sells home repair supplies, and your blog primarily consists of how-to’s. 

Someone who comes to your site looking for information on repairing a pocket door doesn’t want to be hammered with your sales pitch. Instead, they want a simple, step-by-step tutorial. Your keyword choice should account for that, as should your copy. 

As you may have surmised, choosing a relevant keyword means you’ll also need a clear notion of your niche. Again, make sure you’re as specific as possible. The better you define your niche, the more effectively you can target your content. 

Difficulty & Traffic

One of the most common mistakes we see made by novice SEOs is that they choose keywords without much thought about how the search engine results page (SERP) looks for each. Ideally, when selecting a keyword, you want one that isn’t too competitive. However, if you choose one that’s in extremely high demand, you’re going to end up competing with larger, much more established brands, many of which might not even be in your industry. 

The key is to strike a balance — not too competitive, but with enough traffic that targeting it is still worthwhile. The exception, of course, is if your business works in an extremely specific field. Your keywords might still bring traffic to your site, but your SEO tools might consequently not have much to offer in terms of traffic data. 

Long-Tail

Back in the early days of SEO, short-tail keywords were all the rage. The industry has evolved, as has the way your audience uses search engines. Between conversational search and Google’s ever-increasing focus on semantics and intent, long-tail keywords are the way to go. 

The idea here is that you want to think about the kinds of questions your audience might be asking, or the sort of thing they might type into search, and optimize to target that. 

Choose Your Words Carefully

In light of how Google has changed its algorithm in recent years, it would be easy to simply assume that keywords no longer matter. To treat keyword selection as an afterthought to be sacrificed on the altar of content marketing. Doing so would be a mistake, however. 

Keywords might not hold the same sway they did back in the Internet’s infancy, but they’re still a crucial component of an effective SEO strategy and one that you ignore only at your peril. 

Are SEO Certifications Actually Worth It?

There’s no shortage of search engine optimization certifications online. But are any of them actually worth pursuing?

As with any field that requires some level of expertise, the search engine optimization (SEO) space is filled with self-proclaimed experts looking to profit from their knowledge — and not from applying it. As a result, you can learn everything you need to know about SEO for a nominal fee and come out of it with a shiny certificate that lets you show off your knowledge. It sounds like a pretty good deal, right? 

Wrong. 

If you’re a marketing professional, SEO certifications aren’t going to win you any clients. They care about what you can do, not about whether you have a piece of paper that says you do keywords well. And if you’re looking to learn SEO on your own, there are better ways than paying out the nose for a course that offers nothing beyond what can be found in Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO

“I run an online education company that has taught SEO to over 3,000 students around the world,” writes SEO expert Brian Dean. “Despite the fact that we offer several different SEO programs, we don’t offer SEO certifications…An SEO training course is a great way to learn, [but] most programs don’t allow you to put your knowledge into practice.” 

In other words, a certification or training program can be helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin teaching yourself SEO. By working within a structured learning environment, you can learn at your own pace and with the help of someone who verifiably knows what they’re doing. There’s less risk of being led astray by a snake oil salesperson or following bad advice. 

Specific advanced certification programs can also be quite helpful, as they break down complex concepts and ideas into something that’s more easily digestible. Take Schema Markup, for instance. And some of the certifications offered by Google, such as Analytics Academy, Google Marketing Platform, and Search can be a great way to brush up on your skills. 

Better yet, Google’s certifications have a characteristic the other programs don’t. They’re free. So long as you have a valid Google account, you don’t need to pay a cent — all you need to do is complete an assessment on Skillshop, and you can start learning. 

It seems like that’s a bit more valuable than shelling out to a third-party vendor, no? 

SEO certifications and training programs aren’t without merit. They can be an excellent way to learn as a beginner, provide a good refresher if you’re feeling shaky on certain things, and help you understand advanced concepts. Ultimately, though? 

Most certification programs are quite simply a waste of money. They don’t teach you anything that isn’t already freely available online. And unless they feature guided instruction from an educator, they don’t provide a better experience, either.

Save yourself the time, money, and effort — practice your SEO in the wild instead.