It doesn't matter if you are a business website owner or a blogger, SEO and SERP are two acronyms you should be familiar with and understand what they mean to your websites and how they affect traffic to your websites.
Search Engine Results Page is the acronym that matters to most businesses and websites. The key to gaining more traffic from search engines like Google, Bing or anything else is to have your page rank higher or appear first on the search results. The closer you can get to being the first page listed the more likely you are to be visited and collect that search based traffic.
Search Engine Optimization is all about tweaking and tuning your website or blog to try and rank better on the SERP. SEO is a necessary step for any online site or business and there are several methods and tactics that are used to improve SEO and gain better SERP listings.
Before You Setup Your Website
Find Primary Keywords
It sounds easy but it really isn't, you should actually know that keywords you want to target before you actually even build your website. This is because if at all possible you want to try to have your keyword as part of your domain name which greatly improves your SEO and this factor alone helped me get one site ranked to the #1 Google Search result for my targeted keywords with no purchasing of AdWords or any other paid link building. If you run a website or blog about horses then having the word horse in your domain name like horselore.com horsediaries.com …etc is essential and can help you rank much higher than having a DNS name for your site with none of your keywords targeted in it.
Once you know what keywords you target it is then time to scour and see what DNS names are available and at what prices. You still want to find a .com name if you can, though a .net is a good 2nd option. To this day you won't see other DNS entries besides .org or .gov rank as high in the search but if you do a search for "Justin" for example on Google out of 10 search results only 1 is Justin.tv, though this is the first search result this is rarely the case for most domains ending in a rarer dot extension. Avoid dns names with dashes in them and avoid DNS names that are too many words or too long, people won't remember them to type them and you will get outranked by domain names that have the same keywords with shorter DNS names.
If you haven't spent a good six hours deciding what keywords you want to target and searching for DNS names that are either available or purchasable within your price range then you haven't spent enough time developing what you are trying target.
Find Secondary Keywords
Once you have your "primary" keywords targeted it is time to build a list of 6-12 secondary keywords and phrases. These will be the meat of your website and be used in the META description, tags, and scattered in content throughout your site. Finding synonyms of your primary keywords, variations and even your primary keywords in phrases are all important to helping improve your Search Engine Results. Keep these secondary keywords handy in a spreadsheet and if you use a blog platform make sure you try to include them often into new posts and meta content to keep your site keyword rich.
If you use a blogging platform like WordPress you should leverage an SEO plugin like All in One WordPress (preferred) or Platinum SEO Pack which can help automate some of the SEO with your WordPress blog. You have an array of options to help set META information with keyword rich content and you can even configure these plugins to improve SEO for each post on your website by turning WordPress tags and categories into META Keywords and such. They can also help streamline your site by preventing Google from indexing some of your content twice which can hurt the SEO value of your site and show improper website pages in Google Search results.
After Your Site Goes Live
After your site goes live and you have started to generate content you want to continue to work on improving your SEO, at this point you need to focus on incoming links that target your keywords. If your targeted keyword was "how to raise a horse" for example in sticking with the horse related website, then you will want to have links on as many other quality sites as possible have that specific keyword phrase with a link back to your site homepage or target landing page that you want.
Honestly, I would start by using as many free methods as possible and one of these would be writing guest articles for other blogs or sites in related topics and categories. Maybe draft some guest articles about horses for veterinary blogs, animal blogs or other horse related sites and ask the site administrator if they will post your guest article. As a guest article author it is customary to have one to two links back to your own site for submitting original quality content to the site you are guest posting on. Just make sure you aren't over doing it or trying to sell anything and appear like an advertiser or spammer in your guest article. Always remember you are trying to provide value to the readers of the blog you are guest posting on and as a courtesy you get a backlink and possible some of their readers will have interest and follow you back to your own site to learn more.
In addition to building backlinks by writing guest articles you can also build an array of backlinks by setting up Social Media profiles with links to your homepage, commenting on other blogs, sites, forums and I recommend doing all of this. Always add value and never just spam out a comment for the sake of a backlink and you can use FireFox or Google Chrome plugins like SEOQuake to determine which sites are "DoFollow" with their backlinks, this means that when you leave a link Google will share some of that sites pagerank with your own link. Most WordPress blogs and other sites are "NoFollow" by default which means for the most part Google won't share much PageRank to the link from the site. NoFollow links still provide some benefit, but not as much as DoFollow links.
Lastly, if you run a business and particularly one that is a store or sells products I would consider purchasing keywords or running AdWords campaigns for your targeted keywords. I would only do this if your site sells a product and there is a way to make a "conversion" which is convert a visitor to a sale which brings in revenue. If you run a blog site and are not selling any products than paying for visits will not be a good return on investment and you will waste money and see little benefit besides some increased traffic yet no way to monetize it.
These are only some of the many SEO Tips but these are the big ones and take a lot of time to develop, companies hire staff or a team of staff just to build backlinks and improve SEO for their site to increase Search Engine listings. You won't get a new site listed to the top in a day, but you may be able to improve traffic and rank higher in the search engine results pages within a month or two by following these tips.