I'm often asked about SEO tips and tricks - namely how does one begin: does one need to know HTML? does one need to have a marketing background? What does one need to know to promote ones website?
Ultimately it helps to know some HTML and to have some background in marketing but it is most important to understand what Google - and other search engine companies are trying to do and how they are doing it. To begin with let's look at the ideal scenario. Milliseconds after a webpage is is uploaded the search engine finds and evaluates the content of the page and correctly displays the page in order of relevance to the user searching for the information.
Currently this "ideal" is only partially met with heavily indexed sites such as CNN and other news sites. New files are indexed and evaluated remarkably quickly. And yet the two main points need to be kept in mind:
1. Speed and quality of result are at odds;
2. The relevance of the result is not / cannot be perfectly graded for every person and every query.
Thirdly search engines are still not good at (but will shortly) in determining originality. By originality I don't mean it a creative writing sense but in the search engine "knowing" the originator of the content. This is gaining in importance as a result of increased site scraping.
Once you know what a SE is trying to do you need to start thinking about what you can do to place higher. Knowing that news sites are crawled multiple times a day shows that you need to consistently add more files to your site. Knowing that SEs are quite fallible in determining the relevancy of your pages means that you must do your best in aiding them through the use of keywords, titles, urls, and many other big and little things such as getting in bound links and the proper use of heading tags.
These tips and tricks can be easily picked up over time but nothing counts as much as consistently adding valuable information to your site and being frequently indexed.