Some time in the digital past some SEO wizard suggested people looking for great rankings should present themselves as experts. Google loves an expert and users sure flock to experts for guidance almost like some type of self realising feedback loop. Much like the business coaches of the 1990s and 2000s few actually can walk the walk and even fewer can pass on information that actually works. [edit 23/5/2016] If the information is so general its just common sense its all but useless, such as; Make sure your business is profitable... no shit! that's all my problem was.
The world of website development and SEO is much the same. The internet is a wash of experts spewing forth all manner of advice. Much the same as small business coaches and mentors few have any right to be considered an expert.
Never fully buy into anyone's bullshit!
Famous words from satirical author Robert Anton Wilson. Very good advice for anyone looking for useful information about SEO and Websites online. So how does a novice weed out the stuff that is just plain wrong or filter the rubbish from the good.
The rules are still the same
This is something I say a lot and have been for many years. Create a solid base, then Backup, then test and measure everything you do.
Before you try anything here are a few tips to weed out the total losers who will waste your time.
If the source is 20 and straight out of high school be careful. There are freak entrepreneurs, but they are few and far between. The Lamborghini in their car park normally adds credibility to someone being one.
Common sense would dictate a young 20 something is not going to have the experience online and on the job to be an expert. Time on the job counts for something. You should be even more cautious if their setup doesn't match the bravado.
The expert website designer/developer with a template website or ugly poorly finished website. We all get busy and our website get a little raggedy, but there should be a high level of sophistication in keeping with what you're looking for in your website. Would you hire a lawer operating out of their Grand Mothers spare bedroom who turns up to court in a tracksuit and sneakers?
Their writing consists mostly of puff pieces. I'll admit some guys are doing this on purpose to get clients in without giving away their secrets. However, the information is already free online in most cases. I think your website professional should be illustrating some level of technical expertise. Whether this is through their online setup or writings it should still be there.
Quality reviews. Reviews can be faked, positive or negative. Check the reviews source, sites like WOMO and Oneflare validate the reviewer. Reviews in Google, Truelocal, Facebook are a little more flexible. That being said there are articles on how to spot fake reviews.
Check their portfolio, check the dates on the projects, check envato.com to see if they haven't just paid $20 and pulled stock work from their and named it as their own.
Additionally, make sure the examples are of a similar complexity to your project. Don't be afraid to ask for some examples that are similar. A good looking standard small business site is not a comparison to a complex eCommerce website. So make sure you are comparing apples with apples
Extra helping of common sense. I had a client whose project failed with a sole operator. During the course of the conversation the client says it started great I had the developer solely working on my project and I paid him $50,000 for it. The project went on for 10 months as scheduled... but things started to break down around month 6. $50,000 / 10 = 5k a month. Sounds ok to a teenager, but if you're running a small business with overheads you're going to burn through 50k in no time, probably in around 5-6 months ;)