As with many things in this life, SEO is easier if you can see how it works... So below is a very simplified flow chart and explantation as to what happens at each stage... with the result being a high search engine ranking! Start - This is the start of the whole website process, designing and creating your website. Remember simple things like building in how your page titles will work, if you want or need URL re-writing and also consider the style of coding you will use. Content - As mentioned in previous posts content is king! If you aren't a copy writing expert you may want to invest in the services of one. Or maybe you just need to have a consultation from a copy writer. So why the emphasis on copy writers? Well its simple, if you get a professional / expert copy writer what they write will be perfect for marketing, they are marketing writers. Usually a copy writer will be outside of your niche and so can remove your technical jargon, meaning your copy becomes accessible.
Also copy writing should be natural and should be themed on a per page basis, do not concentrate on certain keywords as this will distort your text and search engines will pick up on this. Don't forget to use images to break up your text and if possible make your pages a little interactive, even if its just a search box.
Links - Building Links is often one of the hardest aspects of getting seen. You should consider trying to find links from; Local Websites, Industry Websites (usually your best bet) and Directories (DMOZ, Yahoo and ZoomInfo etc.). Also consider getting links from Friends, Your site designer, Your suppliers and other business affiliates.
Optimise for SEO - This is where you should consider your keywords and purposefully theming certain pages to attarct certain types of visitors. Also consider long-tail keywords as a method to attarct visitors.
Keyword Advice: Consider domain related keywords, topic related keywords (best results), both commercial and non-commercial keywords. Most of all do your research into your niche, see what is bringing others the best results and try them, after you try them for a month or two see if its actually helped you and if not remove it.
Getting Indexed - The first time you are indexed can take anywhere from 1 week to 3 months, maybe even longer (it depends on the above factors!). To speed up this process you may wish to submit your website to search engines (Google, Yahoo & MSN all have submission pages). Remember though, you are likely to be found first in Google and MSN Live than Yahoo. You will appear first in Google Local than Google.com (if you use google local business centre).
Repeat the process for each page
High Search Rank - In addition to the above factors you should remember search engine rankings (including Page Rank) are also based on factors such as domain age and backlink authority (are your back links from highly ranked sites). From a high search rank will come great amounts of traffic, more potential customers and if you get your call to action right you will gain a fantastic return on investment (ROI).