Everything a Marketer Needs To Learn for HubSpot’s SEO Certification

A digital marketing analyst working at a computer completing an online certification - Certification Concept


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the top skills that are needed by marketing professionals. It’s getting more challenging every day to understand the ins and outs of this art form. HubSpot offers an SEO certification that can increase your knowledge and enhance your career. In this article, we are going to tell you what you need to know to obtain the HubSpot SEO certification.

Why Become SEO Certified?

According to a report from HubSpot, approximately 64% of marketers actively invest time in SEO, with 63% of brands making the same investment. Given the difficulty and challenges of getting a website to appear in the top Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), it makes sense to learn as much as possible about SEO tactics and strategies. Aside from looking good on one’s resume and/or LinkedIn page, a certification is an excellent way to become more knowledgeable about any given subject.

The HubSpot SEO certification is very comprehensive, featuring 24 videos, and it provides marketers with all of the information they will need in order to become proficient at SEO. 

The course is broken down into specific topics, starting with an overview and introduction to the course, then moves on through the basics, and then into more narrow aspects of SEO, and takes approximately 3 hours to complete. We will walk through each section, pointing out the highlights and the things the student will want to remember.

Each lesson includes several videos, and most include a short quiz, along with a resource section that features the slides from the videos, transcripts, links to SEO tools and websites that are mentioned, and links to related articles and blogs.

Niva Maharjan, marketer, SEO expert, and content writer for MagnetTechnologies, a Nepal-based digital marketing service, reported in a recent blog that when she began working as a sales and marketing executive for the Himalayan Glacier Adventure and Travel Company, the entire marketing team was expected to receive multiple certifications from Hubspot Academy. It’s a great way to get everybody on the same page, working from the same knowledge base — at no cost. 

It’s not just businesses that are looking for job candidates that are HubSpot certified, there are many schools that require HubSpot certifications. The Mike Ilitch School of Business, part of Wayne State University, requires students taking the Inbound Information Technology course to become HubSpot certified. Additionally, Northeastern University now accepts HubSpot certifications as transfer credits for their Social Media Concentration in either the Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media or the Masters in Corporate and Organizational Communication. In fact, HubSpot partners with over 500 colleges and universities to align their curriculum with industry expectations.

SEO Basics

HubSpot starts its SEO students out by teaching them the history of search engines, and how they became a part of our lives. The first lessons provide details about how the internet is built and how search engines are used by the majority of people as they browse the web, with 93% of global traffic originating from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps. Although there are many search engines available, such as Bing, Yahoo, and others, this course is primarily concerned with Google.

There are four videos in this section, ranging from three to seven minutes, for a total of 33 minutes of instruction covering topics such as: 

  • Why is SEO important?
  • How do search engines rank your content?
  • How to create an SEO strategy.
  • How to measure your website’s SEO authority.

Once the student has watched the videos in each lesson, there is a short quiz to see if they have retained what they watched, and then an opportunity to work through an SEO worksheet. 

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • 68% of online experiences start with a search, using a search engine.
  • A healthy SEO strategy balances building relevancy with building authority.
  • The three stages of ranking are: discovery, relevance and authority.
  • In the context of SEO, E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, all of which are traits that Google uses to rank your website.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for SEO include: organic traffic, keyword ranking, conversion rate, bounce rate, page load time, and backlinks established.
  • A backlink profile is a list of all the sites that are currently linking back to your site, and which pages they are linking to.

On Page and Technical SEO

This lesson is where we actually begin to get into SEO practices. Students learn how Google indexes web pages, what meta descriptions and link text are, and industry best practices for website optimization. Also discussed is how internal linking affects SEO, how URLs should be structured, and the introduction to technical SEO. 

Seven videos, which range from two to fourteen minutes for a total of an hour of instruction, cover the various aspects of search engine optimization, with the emphasis on learning how to optimize a website for search engines to crawl and index. 

  • Videos for this lesson include the following:
  • How to optimize content for SEO
  • Allowing Google to index your pages
  • Writing and editing meta descriptions
  • Writing descriptive link text
  • Internal linking
  • URL structure
  • Technical SEO basics

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • Heading tags provide hierarchical structure to a web page. Title tags specify the title of a web page in search results, and should be under 60 characters if possible.
  • Words like “click here” or “learn more” are not effective link descriptions, and neither is the page’s URL. 
  • The most important aspect of creating SEO content is to focus on creating user-friendly, relevant, and authoritative content. 
  • A sitemap is an XML file that is on your web server (host) that lists all of the URLs on your website. It is used by search engines to index your website, and is submitted through Google Search Console.
  • You need a meta description because it increases clickthrough rates and visits from organic search, provides users with the right information when it is needed, and increases visits from social. The meta description should be 155-160 characters, and should include one or two keywords.
  • Your website should be securely served using a valid SSL certificate.

Keyword Research for SEO

In this lesson, students will learn a step-by-step process for doing keyword research for their websites, then they will learn how to use topic cluster strategies to improve SEO. 

There are three videos in this lesson that total 31 minutes of instruction about keyword research, and how to use it to inform your content strategy. 

Videos for this lesson include the following:

  • Why keyword research is important.
  • Why are topic clusters important.
  • How to do keyword research.

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • Keyword research tells you what people are searching for, how many people are searching for it, how difficult it will be to rank for a search query, and what format people want to receive information in.
  • Head terms (also referred to as fat head) are usually single-word keywords with a lot of search volume and competition. 
  • Body keywords (also referred to as chunky middle) are 2-3 word phrases with pretty good search volume, slightly more than head terms, with slightly less competition.
  • Long tail keywords make up the majority of searches online. “Long tail” refers to the graph showing the demand curve, rather than the number of words in the search query.
  • The topic cluster model is a way of organizing a site’s content pages using a clean, deliberate site architecture. It is done by creating pages that target clusters of specific and relevant content topics, all linked from a centralized hub that is referred to as a pillar page. The pillar page should also provide a comprehensive overview of the topic, and the topic should be relevant to the targeted keywords of your site.

Link Building for SEO: Scaling Your Backlink Strategy

Backlinks are extremely important for SEO, as they tell the search engines that your site is authoritative (because other sites link to it because the content is relevant). That’s why link building is so important for improving the SERPs of your pages. This lesson discusses link building, and tells the student how to calculate the number of links your page needs in order to rank on page one of the SERPs.

As with many things in life, link building relies upon building meaningful relationships with people that will lead to more links down the road. One link building tactic that is mentioned in this lesson is the use of press requests. Press requests come from journalists that are writing stories, and they are looking for experts on specific topics. They use quotes from the experts in their articles, and typically will link to the expert’s website. The thought leaders in your business can provide quotes that can be used, which result in backlinks to your site from high-quality media sites. 

This lesson features four videos that run a total of 24 minutes, along with the usual quiz and a “press request alert response worksheet.” 

Videos for this lesson include the following:

  • Why is link building important for SEO?
  • How many links does your content need to rank on page one?
  • Why relationships are the key to link building at scale.
  • How to scale link building using press request alerts.

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • Google cares how interesting other people think your content is, and measures that quality primarily through backlinks.
  • Backlinks indicate to Google that your site is a high-quality resource that others consider valuable and relevant.
  • People are more likely to organically link to informational content, and far less likely to link to product pages.
  • To get on page one of the SERPs, you need as many backlinks as the currently ranked pages that are there. You can check your own and competing sites using tools such as Moz’s Link Explorer.
  • Unique and different content is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to SEO — emulate what the top ranking sites are doing when it comes to content.
  • Build long-term relationships with bloggers, partners, business owners, influencers, and journalists as part of your backlink strategy.

Optimizing Your Website for Rich Results

This lesson is about the structure of SERPs, and how a display area referred to as rich results works, and why websites would want to have their pages featured in them. Additionally, this lesson covers structured data and how to use it with your website, and how to optimize content so it can be used as a featured snippet on Google’s results pages. 

There are three videos totalling 28 minutes of content in this lesson, as well as an opportunity to participate in the HubSpot community to discuss rich snippets. 

Videos for this lesson include the following:

  • What are rich results?
  • What is structured data?
  • Optimizing featured snippets.

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • Google uses structured data (a markup language that is in a standardized format for providing details about a page and classifying the content) to better understand the contents of a web page, as well as to create rich results.
  • Rich results are visually enhanced search results that include additional details about the site, along with the normal title, URL, and meta description.
  • You cannot optimize your web pages for all types of rich results, however you can optimize them for several types of rich results.
  • SERPs can include organic results, rich results, featured snippets, knowledge graphs, and paid ads.
  • Local brick-and-mortar businesses should create a Google My Business page to improve local SEO. Many people use voice search on mobile devices to search for “businesses near me.”
  • Featured snippets provide people with instant answers to specific questions. Google creates a featured snippet that is displayed as a summary of an answer to a person’s question, and it’s displayed on top of the organic search results. The answer comes from a web page, and also includes the page’s title and URL. 
  • Web pages can be crafted that answer specific questions that relate to the subject matter of the page, such as “what is the average temperature in Honolulu, Hawaii?” The answer should be concise, and cleanly formatted. It should also be at the top of the page, and less than 50 words.

SEO Reporting

This lesson discusses the way that your SEO progress can be measured by monitoring specific SEO metrics, and using reporting tools such as those that HubSpot provides, along with Google Analytics, and Google Search Console. 

There are two videos in this lesson totalling 18 minutes of viewing, along with an opportunity to participate in the HubSpot community to discuss SEO goal-setting and reporting. 

Videos for this lesson include the following:

  • How to report on your SEO efforts.
  • Create your SEO reports.

Key takeaways from this lesson:

  • It’s not enough to work on SEO without setting measurable goals and KPIs and analyzing the results regularly. 
  • Since SEO is an iterative process, the details gained from measuring your results can be opportunities for additional SEO practices. A highly ranking keyword could be driving traffic to your site, but you don’t have much content relating to that keyword. Time to create more content around the keyword.
  • Do not change too many things on your site at once; over-optimization can be detrimental and can affect your rank on the SERPs.
  • Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Moz’s Link Explorer are free to use, and can be extremely useful for monitoring your progress.
  • Search traffic is measured in click throughs, pageviews, sessions, and unique views, and different SEO tools may contradict one another and use different terms. 

The HubSpot SEO Exam

There are 60 questions in the exam, randomly drawn from a pool of 73 questions, all of which are answered in the videos and transcripts. Typically the exam takes about an hour to complete, though students are given 3 hours to finish it. To pass, students must answer at least 45 questions (75%) correctly, and if they do not pass, they must wait 12 hours before taking it again. Upon successful completion of the course, students are presented with a digital certificate, along with the ability to display the certificate on LinkedIn as well as their website. HubSpot also emails the exam breakdown to the student, and tells them how many questions they got correct. The HubSpot SEO certification is valid for one year.

A picture of a HubSpot certification credential

Final Thoughts on the HubSpot SEO Certification

Search engine optimization is a rapidly evolving skill, and staying current with the ins and outs of SEO is a challenge for the busy professional. HubSpot’s SEO Certification course is a concise, compelling way for marketers and other professionals to learn the basics of SEO and put together an SEO strategy that can bring their website to the top of the SERPs. Additionally, it’s a great way to gain additional SEO knowledge while becoming a more valued employee for any brand.