There is plenty of free information about search engine optimization on the Web. Some of it is accurate. Much of it is outdated, incomplete or plain wrong. Trying to sort through which is which requires full-time devotion to sorting out effective techniques from the garbage.
Practical Ecommerce conducted a survey "SEO is Both Important and Misunderstood." Its findings reveal how deceptively easy SEO looks when you research the topic on the Web.
"Only 25.6 percent of the merchants surveyed had ever hired a paid SEO professional to help them. Many of the respondents said that SEO services were just too expensive for their company or that they believe there was enough information available for free to do a good job without professional help or training."
"Unfortunately, it was also clear that many of the merchants surveyed did not understand the difference between good SEO tactics and questionable, even unethical, practices. 53.9 percent of those surveyed said that keyword stuffing, another poor and potentially unethical practice, was at least somewhat effective."
I commonly find poorly search optimized Web sites where it was obvious SEO was attempted. Bad page titles are typical. Page titles are your most important SEO tool. Many sites rely on over-stuffing keywords in meta-tags. That is not effective at all today.
Too many top Webmasters still rely on outdated, ineffective SEO. In the past six months, twice I found on brand name Web sites hidden text links for Cialis, Levitra and Prozac that point to the brand's product pages. These links were not the work of hackers. Nothing else on the site indicated any mayhem committed by outside forces. Optimizing for popular pharmaceuticals that you do not sell is as effective as optimizing for "sex." What's the point?
In other words, time to get serious. Search engine optimization is too important to be playing games. Unless you practice SEO full-time, including measuring results and taking steps that lift your search positions up and keep them there, you would be better off with professional search optimization services. Professional results will pay for themselves.