Carry out keyword research
Before you start any SEO campaign you need to identify which keywords and phrases you want to be found for online. If your business only operates in a certain geographic area then make sure you select specific keyphrases such as "plumber in Birmingham" rather than just "plumber".
While it's an obvious choice to target the phrases with the highest search volumes (you can get estimates from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool) these can be very competitive so it can pay to target keywords and phrases with less traffic and less competition.
Make sure you have a site map
A site map helps your website get indexed by the major search engines. Without it your site may struggle to be picked up. A site map is basically a list of all the pages on your website and you should make sure this is added before your site goes live.
Use keywords to link between pages on your site
Rather than linking from your home page to a product/service page with "click here" you should use keywords and phrases to link the pages instead. Doing this has two main benefits; it is more descriptive for people reading your site and it also has SEO benefits.
Be bold with your keywords
The relevance of your site to visitors and your SEO can also benefit from the occasional bolding of keywords and phrases throughout the text on your site. Just be careful not to overdo it and only emphasise these where it's necessary to create more impact.
Optimise your headings and sub-headings
Using keywords and phrases within your headings and sub-headings again has two main benefits. Firstly, having keywords or phrases in these key positions is valued by the search engines. Secondly, it will make your site more relevant for people reading it. For example if someone has typed "horse riding Newcastle" into a search engine and then sees this phrase used in your main heading, it will appeal to them and appear relevant.
Optimise your images
If you've got images on your website then you should add keyword rich descriptions to them rather than labelling them as image 1, image 2 etc. If you don't know how to do this yourself your web designer will be able to if you give them the descriptions you would like.
Meta tags matter
There are two meta tags you need to concern yourself with when it comes to SEO.
Meta title - this is also known as the page title and appears at the top of the internet browser bar. The purpose of this is to let the search engines and internet users know what each page on your site is about. The meta title also appears as a bold heading for your website in the search engine results so is very important.
Meta description - the meta description doesn't appear on your website but it does appear underneath your meta title in the search engine results pages. These two lines of text should include the main keywords/phrases for each page and are your chance to convince people to click through to your website.
Do some link building
Another good way to boost your website's online profile is to get some links from relevant sites. The search engine robots will pick up on these and give your site more kudos as a result. When you're just starting out with your site there are plenty of free directories you can submit your website details to.
Search engines also love regular, unique and relevant content. Starting a blog or news section on your website is a great way to keep visitors coming back and your site updated for SEO purposes.
Stick at it! If search engine optimisation was quick and easy everyone would be doing it. If you're taking a DIY approach to SEO you need to be prepared for the long haul. Many people start the process then give up when they don't get immediate results. If you're prepared to stick at it you will reap the rewards in the long run.