Search engine optimization (SEO) is key for anyone who wants to have a successful website. SEO essentially refers to getting your website to appear high up in search engine results pages (SERPs) for your desired keywords. This is important because, depending on keywords, over 90% of people do not click past the first SERP and a majority will only click on the first result. So if your page is not there you are not going to get much traffic from search engines. Most information in this article will relate to Google as they have by far the largest market share and so are the most important.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is choosing the right keywords for your site. There are many tools that can help with this buy I think the Google keyword tool is the best. You want to choose keywords that relate to the information or products on your site, but bear in mind that the more popular a keyword the more competition you will have to get to the top for that keyword. One option here is to choose less popular keywords that do not have as much competition. This can be a good start and use that as a platform to target more popular keywords, or you could just target a wide range of less popular keywords.
Now that we have discussed keywords we should move onto how to rank highly for those keywords. It is estimated that the Google algorithm attributes about 20% importance to onsite facts such as they keyword density in text, sitemaps, and site design eg using correct HTML tags. The other 80% is to do with offsite factors, mainly backlinks. Backlinks are the key to getting your site to rank high. You can get backlinks from articles submissions, blog comments etc. but the best are when other sites link to yours because your content is good. In these backlinks try to make sure that the anchor text (the link text) is the keyword you are targeting. The best way to get backlinks is to constantly update your site with new, quality, and unique content.
Unfortunately there are no quick ways to get to the top of Google, unless you have an incredible idea. So for the majority of sites it is simply a question of perseverance and dedicating a lot of time to it, but if you do get to the top then it will all be worth it.