So you want to do-it-yourself?
Before you knock yourself out following DIY-SEO tips and tricks here and on other sites, ask yourself; do I like to fix my own car? Because that is what you are getting into. It can be fun or frustrating depending on your temperament.
If there is one single piece of advice for the SEO beginner, it’s this: Start with a “good” website. 90% of winning in this sport is a well-built website that is also appropriate for the job. ( Later you will see how hard the last 10% really is :)
Good and appropriate are subjective terms of course. But most SEO problems can be traced to legacy (age) issues. A website that was built in 2000 will likely not meet the needs of today’s search engines. Most contemporary websites tend to work well right out of the box. But they are not optimized. Just like a new bicycle, you need to adjust it (re.the seat height, check tire pressure, obvious right?) before riding off. And don’t expect a “free” website to satisfy your SEO needs. I have yet to see one that will (feedback welcome).
If you already have a website and cannot (yet) start from scratch, or if you are interviewing a website vendor, check the tire pressure here http://validator.w3.org/