As you have probably heard by now, SEMPO, which describes itself as "a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it", has recently announced the SEMPO Institute. To quote them once again, "The Institute offers online distance learning courses that will provide a breadth of search marketing instruction from Fundamentals to Advanced Search Advertising.".
Their FAQ page gives much of the information necessary for learning about what the Institute is offering, and details the program nicely. Basically, they are offering 3 training curricula: SEM Fundamentals, Advanced SEO, and Advanced Search Advertising (PPC). SEM Fundamentals is being offered currently, with the advanced curricula coming sometime within the next few months.
The courses were designed by many seasoned professionals, and appears to cover the broad spectrum of search marketing quite well. I did have a few questions, however, so I spoke with Jeff Pruitt, VP of SEMPO, and President of Search Operations at icrossing.com.
The first thing I wanted to know concerned the completion of a course. According to their FAQ, "Upon completion of the material in each full course, and after passing a series of rigorous tests, students will receive a Certificate of Completion for each course. The Certificate is assigned to the individual, not their company, similar to continuing education and other certificate programs." I wanted to know if they had any plans to turn this into something that would actually count as a CEU (Continuing Education Unit) for people who are working towards their degree or some sort of certification program.
Jeff assured me that they have hired a Business Development Executive who will be soliciting partnerships with both universities and accredation institutions, so that this could eventually become a course that will count towards a degree or certification program.
Next, I wanted to know if the Advanced SEO course would cover blackhat techniques. Jeff said that at the moment, the answer is no, not because of a fear of staying away from it, but because they want to put into place a course of best practices to follow. I mentioned that understanding blackhat techniques is useful when analyzing a site's problems. He agreed and noted that their curriculum is dynamic and will be changing as needed, so this may indeed be considered for the future.
Finally, I asked if they would be covering PPC arbitration. He said no, not in the training, although he could see SEMPO possibly dealing with it as an organization, perhaps in the research area. He then mentioned that SEMPO has three main areas it focuses on: Research, Education, and Global Expansion. I wanted to know what he meant by Global Expansion and explained that with search growing rapidly internationally, they were looking to meet those international needs as it grows.
I wrapped up our talk by asking him if he wanted to share anything else that we hadn't already covered. He mentioned that they had already received 12 students in less than 1 week of being open - without any real marketing push. I think that's fairly impressive.
It's great to see more education opportunities opening up in our industry. It is not only needed, but vital to our industry's reputation as a whole.