Is The Hubspot Inbound Certification Wrong?
Hubspot launched a revised inbound certification on 05/01/2015. The revised test was much clearer and was far less vague. I noticed that many of the questions dealing with SEO specifically have been removed. I’m sure that this reflects the more natural shifting of focus away from pleasing search engines toward being more customer focused. In my opinion this was a good idea.
Congrats to the Hubspot team on a much improved tool. I’m still considering using certifications like the inbound certification for our team but I not yet made a decision.
Here’s my badge:
I am always looking for more efficient and effective ways to get things done. I’ve heard loads of good things about Hubspot and while this doesn’t directly relate to its paid products, I thought I would share my experience with testing its Inbound Certification.
As a marketing professional who has been around the block, I made the assumption (inaccurately) that I’d be able to pass the certification without any prep work. Instead, I got a 68% and failed.
As I reached the first question in the certification, it became obvious that my personal experience wouldn’t get me through the certification with flying colors. Nevertheless, I’ve been putting off taking the test for a few days so I pressed forward.
As I got farther into the questions, I did my best to reverse engineer the way this certification was built around its approach to marketing (that I hadn’t read). I began to grow frustrated with the available multiple-choice answers.
Let me take a step back
My goal is to identify useful tools for my team, and as such, my expectations of taking the test were not necessarily the same as someone who might have studied or been required to take the certification. Instead, I’m assessing the quality of the certification as a tool for our SEO team. With this in mind, my frustrations with the certification are probably influenced by not participating in the training prior to starting. With this knowledge, I’ve made an effort to try to justify the questions I took disagreement with by reviewing the certification study materials. Some of my initial frustrations were resolved here but others remain.
Question #7 –
Obviously “Do something, learn something and navigate to their own website” is not the right answer. People aren’t looking to navigate to their ‘own’ websites as a general rule.
So what’s wrong with the other 3?
“Navigate to a website’ is listed in all 3. Google’s not pushing more and more content into the SERP via knowledge graph and other injectables to force people to visit more websites. It’s trying to provide more answers directly in the search results.
So all 4 answers here are wrong.
Question #9 –
First of all – who really knows?
Secondly – Meta descriptions do not impact Google search results (as you’ve said in the 17 myths e-book and as Google has stated since 2009).
So all 4 answers here are wrong.
Question #10 –
Seriously? Give context or don’t ask the question. To be fair – the learning materials, if studied, provide the clarification and answer but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with optimizing a site to delight customers. If you do that successfully, you’ll probably do just fine in search engines.
All of these answers should be considered right.
Question #14 –
I have no idea what they’re asking for here but all of these answers could be right or wrong.
#1 – Posts that are 400 words may work terrific in your industry. Most industries, however, have different expectations and standards. In Internet marketing, for example, posts that are longer tend to perform better.
#2 – Post subheads & bold text. Whatever, if your style guide calls for these elements use them. If it doesn’t, don’t. Someone could always avoid bold text and that would be fine.
#3 – Who says white space is a bad thing? Isn’t there a thing as too much images? What about too little? Context, industry and style all play here.
#4 – All the the above assumes that you agree 100% with all of the above statements provided. I don’t.
I wish this question more was more like:
Which of these is always considered best practices for blog formatting?
1 – Include at least 5 images
2 – Always keep blog posts 400-600 words in length
3 – Use clear and concise language your audience will understand
4 – Insert your target keywords into the post as much as possible
Wouldn’t that be a more accurate and capable question for determining the understanding of the content for a certification?
Question #15 –
Wait, who am I writing my blog post for?
You do realize there is more than one reason to write blog posts, right? What if I’m writing a post (like this one) to engage with peers in my industry instead of my direct customers? This whole question assumes you have selected customers as your target persona for every blog post. Companies that run blogs like this are missing out on some of the other wonderful opportunities blogs provide.
And for those detail-oriented readers – “Topics that you can write about” is not a fair answer here. What – you want me to write about my off-roading hobby in a completely disconnected way from the rest of my blog content? Probably not the best thing to be doing.
Your customers/buyer persona could be the same thing, you’re just attached to your use of language. It doesn’t make the ‘your customers’ answer any less accurate than the persona answer either.
Question #16 –
Again, a question full of assumptions.
What’s the right car to buy? The one that meets your needs.
How often should I post on my blog? As often as you need to.
If you post daily, or 2-3 times per week, are you really seeing more ROI than you would weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?!
Cmon – people spend money to keep their blogs up to date – assumptions like this lead businesses to overly invest in strategies that may not pan out for them.
Question #18 –
If you do #1 – Will you keep the same URL or will the post change URLS?
If you do #2 – Did you 301 redirect the old post? Did you really need to delete the content that was already bringing in traffic?
If you do #3 – Um – We all love spamming our social media followers. Obviously this isn’t a great idea but perhaps it’s appropriate for some people.
If you do #4 – What? How is this not #2?
If you do #5 – What? Did you 301 the old URL? Is there a new URL in the first place? What was wrong with the old title? What’s so much better about the new one?
Question #43 –
I like how this question has, obviously, two choices. Both of them involve telling your (obviously clueless and inept boss) to go stick it. OK, maybe that’s unfair, but seriously?
Purchasing lists doesn’t automatically involve crappy lists that bounce and depreciate the value of your email. Also, you’re making the assumption that you’re actually emailing these people. There’s a lot more you can do with a list these days than firing off a standard email sequence to it.
What if my list is of a local population of people I service but a partner company can’t and we exchange our out-of-area targets? Should I tell my boss “Let’s hold off, we could see decreased deliverability rates?”.
Maybe I’m just strange and I don’t like it.
Question #48 –
After this one, I made the decision to write this post. There were probably more questions I could have included here but this one takes the cake.
As a marketer, especially one at the analyst or specialist level, I need to know as much as possible. As a general rule, I wouldn’t agree with any of these answers. I would want ALL of it.
As a realistic person, I understand where this question is going but I still feel like the premise here is fundamentally flawed. So I did some extra digging. I watched the ‘Smarketing‘ class videos.
The correct answer is ‘Marketing qualified leads generated’ but this doesn’t really account for the ROAS of the campaign. Something you really should know even if you’re not always 100% in control of the sales process and can’t necessarily translate that to the advertising performance. As they say in the class, get your marketers thinking more like executives. If they don’t know their ROAS, they’re missing the ultimate goal. If this were one of our client accounts, we would want to know if one ad or one campaign was generating a higher ROAS than another even though the cost-per-qualified leads might be the same. Know what you’re optimizing to.
In conclusion, the correct answer is all of the above.
What do you think?
I love the idea of this resource that Hubspot has built, but I wonder if there are too many fundamental issues with the certification to actually integrate it into our team. If you’re using the inbound certification or you’ve taken it, I want to hear from you. If you aren’t, would you integrate this into your marketing teams after encountering these types of questions with the certification?
Great post, Chase. Very interesting and enlightening. It’s also funny.
I feel very strongly that the Hubspot inbound cert is not only wrong or poorly worded in a lot of questions (your analysis was hilarious), but just a bad cert in general. Reading your post actually inspired me to reference it and write up a response of my own if you’d care to check it out: http://www.supremestrategies.com/analyzing-hubspot-inbound-certification/
Very detail post about the basic certification. Let me just give the other side view. ( i have almost all hubspot certifications)
The Basic certification the inbound it´s an initial certification it´s a basic one. So most of the points are wide basics for any type of people and as you mention if you try to bring in to an specific ( advance) context the question and answer it will fall. as it happens to you.
In my case when i start to learning i did not pass the exam the first time and i was really frustrate it with it. I did not study in depth and just made a quick read of all the training . So i asume wrong answers like you.
In my point of view the basic certification is just like an entry point. nothing else, so don’t expect more.
And last if you compare this exam with the google certification there are the same problems with meanings etc..
My recommendation for all of you is try not to compare what you know with what you try to learn in order to accept or not the knowledge. Just relax your self, do the training with the time you need. step by step.. continue with the advanced levels ( hubspot , partner, design, contextual) and them give your choose
Ha! I think this all the time. I’ve been doing inbound marketing and using hubspot for 4 years… i fly through the partner certification test all the time, but i HAVE to watch the videos to pass the inbound test… that’s kind of a red flag for me…
i know im not the typical persona that is taking that test, but as one of the most influential people in the hubspot partners linkedin group, i would think i should be able to fly through that test and get close to a 100% everytime.
so either i suck at inbound marketing (doubtful), or im the wrong persona (maybe), or the test is too basic and i overthink every question.
great blog post here!
all this being said, i LOVE hubspot and I would trust them to babysit my children (if i had kids)
happy holidays everyone!
As someone who is just getting into the field, I felt the certification class was informative and provided a fundamental understanding. I passed the exam the first time, and for me, it has helped me get my foot in the door, since I’m lacking actual experience. I’m working for an SEO company and was able to see how the certification exam can be flawed. However, anyone working in this field has to approach ANY certification with an open mind and assumption that no one methodology is the holy grail.
I didn’t read your whole post because I already know how a blog article works, so I figured I’d skip most of the reading and just comment to see how I do. I don’t think the HubSpot Certification Program is wrong, but my view is biased. I took the classes before taking the test so I knew 90% of the answers.
I appreciate the comparison you’re making but skipping a blog post (where I’m discussing specific points) and making a uneducated comment on it based on the headline isn’t quite equal to what I did with Hubspot.
I was already transparent about my process but I’ll repeat that I did re-run through the learning materials on the specific questions I found faulty. So, even with the applied learning I still had several concerns with the certification questions.
With that in mind, it’s not a question as to whether you could study the hubspot materials to learn the answers. The issue I had was that many of the questions aren’t worded with care and some even required answers that were flat out wrong, regardless of where you’ve learned the material. An example being the meta descriptions (that Hubspot’s own materials conflict on).
I think you are missing the point of the program. The Inbound Certification test is testing your comprehension of the class material, not general Inbound Methodology. I don’t think HubSpot claiming otherwise. The instructions clearly tell you to pick the best answer for each question.
This is the part where you lost me and answered all of your own questions at the same time:
“As I got farther into the questions, I did my best to reverse engineer the way this certification was built around its approach to marketing (that I hadn’t read). I began to grow frustrated with the available multiple-choice answers.”
Your Question #9 argument makes doesn’t hold water. Meta descriptions are important for SEO, just not for Google search rankings. The question was “Which are the most important on-page SEO elements?”, and never mention Google or search ranking or search results. This is taken directly from your 17 myths ebook example –
Google announced back in 2009 that meta descriptions (and meta keywords) have no bearing on search rankings. That’s not to say, however, that these descriptions aren’t important for SEO. On the contrary: Meta descriptions present a major opportunity to separate yourself from the riff-raff and convince searchers that your page is worth navigating to.
The correct answer to # 9 is Page Title, URL, meta description, content, page header. You know how I know? There are 8 slides dedicated to it in this course – http://academy.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing-certification/attract/optimize
“HubSpot’s free Inbound Certification includes eleven classes that cover the core elements of the Inbound Methodology.”
HubSpot provides a HubSpot certification for those who are covering more specific usage of their tools in combination with inbound methodology. It’s my understanding that the certification was indeed intended for broader usage as a general inbound methodology certification.
To your point, I didn’t fully gather their 17 myths ebook is actually supporting descriptions as a SEO element. I consider SEO elements only those that impact rankings and therefore do not see descriptions as a SEO factor but that’s splitting hairs I guess. Good catch on that and thanks for the correction.
Meta descriptions are just page elements, as a general practice, our team uses them but I don’t expect to see rank changes on our sites when we make updates to these. When we do make description changes we look for CTR improvements from the SERP. It’s a differentiation of KPI, perhaps that’s why I consider descriptions as a on-page element but not a SEO factor.
First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to write up this detailed review of
our Inbound Certification. As the leader of our certification program, this is
the type of comprehensive feedback that we crave. This is what helps us be able
to learn how we can better grow and develop the program over time. And in fact,
we give every person that takes the certification the opportunity to provide us
with their feedback via a post-test survey.
And you are absolutely correct. The Inbound Certification may not be perfect
education for folks who are looking to learn the traditional type of SEO. The
purpose is to help educate the industry on how to build a company around the
inbound approach, far beyond just the elements of marketing. With
that being said, I’d love to pull on that thread a bit more. Do you think we
should have a class in there dedicated solely to SEO? I’d love to hear what
your thoughts are on this.
Overall, thank you again for writing your observations. We’ll bring these back to our team and use
them to further enhance the quality of the certification on our next annual
revamp (in May).
Thanks for jumping in Sarah – obviously I’m pleased to see your team participating the the dialog on these points. It does show that there’s a company that cares about it’s products paying attention to the feedback that the community may have for it.
SEO is SEO. From my perspective there’s not a lot of hard facts to know. Instead, SEO is a philosophy and from that perspective, it’s harder to find fault with any particular approach as long as it’s applying some of the very limited hard known facts.
From an inbound marketing perspective, however, what I wanted to find from the certification was a trustworthy test that I could find valuable enough to implement into our business. Instead, I found conflict with too many points for me to be comfortable with using it as a tool for our business.
Furthermore, with some questions like the one on blog post frequency, I felt like the learnings could actually be more harmful to business owners who are looking to apply their efforts in areas that provide the highest return. This is definitely an area I’ve seen far too much from our interactions with businesses.
Blogs and social media are a lot alike, businesses think they need them but they really don’t know why or what they should be getting out of work they invest in these areas. Recommending 2-3 blog posts per week is a significant investment of time and/or resources for many businesses. Hubspot has the reputation and reach that we the community should be willing to share some feedback on these points for the betterment of everyone.
Before any of these types of online marketing strategies are started, a business should be equipped to measure the impacts these might have on their bottom line. From my perspective most businesses don’t need to be told how often to post, they need to be told how to make their blog into a revenue generating machine and how to measure that. Then if they’ve had success at getting that revenue, how do they make their blog more effective at building a ROI for their business.
@Sarah What’s up all star?
Yeah, there should be a class dedicated solely to SEO (like, a really deep dive into it). Hint: Just partner with everyone over at distilled. We use their Distilled University all the time with interns and account managers.
Have a great holiday Sarah.
I have a question about distilled.
Could you please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you in advance
Good points, all, Chase. I think most of the problems you had (and that I share) with the questions are driven by poorly worded questions and options. Even so, I’m concerned when I see this sort of quiz, as many novices will assume that whatever answer is considered “correct” for purposes of the test, is therefore ALWAYS correct. Obviously, NO answer is always correct. Such exercises attempt to establish absolutes where none exist…. and as a result, they often mislead.
For Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification questions and answers discussion, visit:
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