The most basic form of internet marketing is search engine marketing. It can make the difference between 10 visitors a month to your web-shop (or other online project) and 10,000 unique visitors a month.
There are a few basic steps you wanna keep in mind while starting your new project.
1. Don't start with a new domain name google values the 'age' of a domain name. If the domain name is younger then 6 years it will be seen as less important then older domain names. Google sees it like this: the older the domain name, the longer it will probably have offered information the more important it will probably be. So it will be a great advantage to start with a older domain name. If you don't have a choice and you will be using a new domain it could take a few months before you will be able to see some changes because google will place you in the so called Sandbox.
2. Optimize for your target visitors not search engines. This may sound strange because you obviously want to score high (otherwise you would be reading my blog posts right ;-)), but this could easily be the most important tip I could give you. Google's search engines become smarter constantly, so they will be able to recognize sites that are solely based on ranking high. On the other hand they will also be able to recognize sites that are valuable for people searching these search terms and they will reward this site with a high ranking in the results. Makes sense right?
So what do you do?
There are some easy guide lines you can use like looking at the contents of competing/rival sites, check out forums on which your target area is active to find out what they like and what their age/sex/interests etc are. Also you can check out blogs from people active in the same field. All the information you receive from these investigations will help you with our next step.
3. Research the keywords you want to use. The standard keywords which you think might be important for your target may be totally wrong. To find a good group of keywords to focus on use tools like the Google keyword tool or Yahoo's Search Engine Marketing data. With help from these tools make a selection of useable keywords. On these keywords you want to focus your optimized pages. Make pages that are optimized for these keywords (write text that involves these keywords a lot. Also include words that are related to the keyword, google will notice that as well).
Do not choose keyword that are too general, these keywords are often hard to score high on because there have been thousands of websites optimized to these keywords before you. Also you might attract a too wide audience with these keywords. Example: lets say you have a bicycle store. Optimizing for words like bicycle will not deliver you any good leads. A smarter choice would be to focus on the area your store is located. Something like "[location] quality bicycles".
This brings me to the last point. Use multiple words per optimized page, preferably in sentences because people often use more then one word in their search query. Try to get in your targets mind and try to imagine what search query you would use if you would be searching for the product/service you are offering on your website.
5. Label your links (anchor text) and images (alt tags) as clearly as possible. Besides text google will also read the anchor text you give your internal links and alt tags you give your images. This is supposed to give google an idea of what images your website is showing, because it obviously cant see and read the image. The spider will also be looking at the text inside the anchor tags (<a> ... </a>) so simply using "Click here" or "Go to page" will not really help you. Instead you could use the info of the page you are leading to, for example "More mountain-bikes". Do not stuff your anchor tags or alt tags with keywords because google will catch on to this and punish your website rankings for this. Keep in mind this is supposed to help the visitor in the first place, so if its useful for the visitor google will award your for it.
6. Write usefull articles relevant to your target audience. Write clear articles about subjects that relate to your target audience. In these articles its also important to use all the right keywords. It is also important that keywords you use in your description and title meta tag return in the articles on your site. As I before keep in mind you are writing for your audience not for the search engines. So make good formulated sentences and don't just try to stuff your text with keywords. Make good logical sentences using the keywords (and words/terms relating to these keywords).
7. Write unique title tags per page. Search engines place a lot of value in the websites title tag. Mainly because this is the first thing your potential visitors see when they type in the keywords you rank high on. So it is important your title tag reveals the right information about what the web-page is about. Also writing a good title tag helps attract the attention of potential visitors, you basically need to lure them into your site with a catchy or informational title.
8. Make sure your website is "link-worthy". Getting linked to from other sites is crucial for a good search engine ranking. If your get a lot of links from other sites google will presume your site must contain good information worth getting high in the search results. This factor is called 'link popularity' the more websites link to you the higher it will be. This doesn't mean you should get your site added to some kind of link-directory where you will receive about a thousand links to your site. This doesn't work any more. Your link popularity will get highest if the sites linking to you contain information which relates in some way to your sites information.
If you keep these steps in mind your website will eventually reach a good position in search engines. But remember: the most important thing is to cater to your visitors, make the website in way visitors want to come back to your website or tell people they know about your website.