SEO has become such a buzzword now but for those just starting to learn about its effectiveness and how it works (read: me), it can help to simplify things a bit in order really nail the key ideas. So without further ado, I present to you the dumbed-down, oversimplified, bare basics of SEO for dummies.
Rule #1: Content is king in the SEO world. All the great tips and tactics in the world can’t help you if your content sucks, so make sure the bulk of your time is spent investing in valuable, unique, well-written content that people actually want to read.
Rule #2: If content is king, then links are the benevolent right-hand man. If you want people (and the Google indexing “spiders”) to be crawling your site, you’re going to need some other sources who also think your stuff is worthwhile. The key is that they need to be authoritative sources! A big reason people tend to be reluctant to trust SEO is because of all the black-hat tricks out there that rely on link farms and deceptive sites to gain more traffic. But if you get into the practice of paying for worthless links in bulk, Google will punish you and that’s a lot worse than sitting in the corner without dessert. Make sure you link out, too—though not as valuable, it increases your chances of getting some recognition back.
Rule #3: Reputation matters. In our happy little SEO monarchy, it’s probably the knighthood or something. Essentially, you need to have a positive reputation, which you build up with your valuable content, and authoritative links. It takes patience and time (something a lot of people forget to take into account), but you will gradually build your reputation and popularity which alone will give you higher ranking. You’ll be rewarded for the legit content you post and people will like you and everyone will be happy.
That’s all I got. Good luck.
P.S. for 52 more SEO-related tips, check out Search Engine Journal’s handy-dandy list of SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.