Search Engine Ranking
Most sites get a large majority of their traffic from the search engines, most notably Google. The exceptions are sites with some kind of strong community tied to the site—corporate intranets, and club sites, and such—and a few huge commercial sites so well known that they're a destination of their own—CNN, Amazon.com, Ebay, and so forth.
A lot of rubbish is talked, and a lot of unfulfillable promises are made, about search engine ranking. Cheats and quick fixes either don't work at all, or else only work for a short period of time (and may result in your site being permanently blacklisted by Google thereafter).
I started studying search engine ranking shortly after the first few search engines turned up on the web. I was running my own web server, on which I could put any content that I wanted to. In fact, I was first aware of search engines from seeing their spiders indexing my content when scanning the log files. I investigated the URLs those left in the logs, and discovered, I think, Lycos first.
I read what they and other search engines said about how they ranked their results. I went further, and created special sets of pages on my server that contained similar content with very controlled changes, and compared how those pages ranked relative to each other on various search engines. After a few years, the complexity of the algorithms got to the point where such simple experiments didn't tell me very much any more—ranking decisions were being made based on more than just the information in the pages on the site (things like Google's PageRank).
If you think about it, search engines that don't find results people want will, over time, get used less than search engines that do. All the "magic" quick-fixes work on the assumption that you can fool the search engined. Sometimes you can, at least for a while; but you can't fool the people, who are the ultimate users. And search engines that you can continue to fool will fall out of favor with people.
It is certainly very important that your site rank highly on the most important searches for your topic area. However, there's very little magic involved in achieving that; what's actually involved is hard work, in finding, creating, and organizing content that's of interest to the people you want visiting your site, and in getting links to your site from lots of other important sites (Google's "page rank" algorithm pays a lot of attention to the web of links).
It's important to avoid mistakes that prevent a search engine from finding you—really dumb things like having information you want indexed only in graphics images, for example. But mostly, what you need to do is have content. Then, you have to keep it at stable URLs, and organize it sensibly (meaningful page titles and section headings, for example, contribute to search engine indexing). If you do that, then you'll get good rankings, safely on the first page (where the answers to simple searches pretty much must fall for people to see them).
If, for example, you Google for "Minneapolis carry permit training", you'll find Joel Rosenberg's ellegon.com site, my own Carry Journal, and the AACFI site all on the first page of results—those are all sites I designed.
If you Google for "science-fiction books Minneapolis" Uncle Hugo's shows up right at the top as a local result, because it recognized Minneapolis as a location term.
Googling for just "Steven Brust" won't bring up the dragaera.info site that early, though; while the structure of the site plans for a greater variety of articles, we haven't gotten many yet, so the content is rather thin. The main content at the site right now is the mailing list archives. (We do have a link prominently displayed at the top of the #1 hit, though.) This is rather an object lesson: content is king! (Also, be sure you're planning for the right searches; searching for "dragaera" brings up dragaera.info as the #2 result currently.)