A Good SEO Approach
If you are going to do your own SEO then you will need to follow a fairly disciplined approach. I will outline the basic steps here which are a simplistic summary of the approach used at Towers IT Professional Services . These can then be adapted based on your specific goals. In this first post I will just cover the first 2 activities of keyword analysis and linking those into page URL's and title and leave the next steps for another day.
Keyword and Market Analysis
The first thing to do is to assess your market and from this decide on which keywords you want to target. It is important to do this work up front and then all the following SEO activities can be clearly focused on these keywords to achieve a tangible goal. It is also important to select a realistic amount of keywords so your optimisation can be concentrated appropriately and not spread too thin. I would suggest starting with around 20 keywords.
There are 2 factors that need considering when selecting keywords. The first one is how accurately do they represent your market area, which is important so you can get good quality traffic to your site. There is no point in having masses of traffic if the quality is poor and in the case of eCommerce, you are not seeing any conversions.
The second consideration is how achievable it is to get a good search listing position with these keywords. It is important to pitch this right so you select keywords which see a good number of google searches but are not too competitive so you can realistically get a page 1 listing.
In order to undertake your market and keyword analysis it is best to use the google tools to assess search volumes and also to identify keyword ideas for your research. Another good practise is to try some searches and if applicable check that they are picking up important aspects like google images.
Page Titles, Page URLS's, Meta Descriptions and Tags
Ideally you should do your keyword research before you have created your site. In this way you can check that page URL's give a good mapping to the keywords. These are probably the most important factor. Often you can change them later but if you do this be sure to delete the old ones from google and do a 301 page redirect from the old to the new page.
The next critical aspect is the page tiles. Try to get your keywords in to these and they should also correlate well with the content on the page so you have a consistent theme and mapping.
From here you can put together some nice succinct meta tag descriptions and tags, but don't just take some of the page content for your meta descriptions, make sure they are original yet representative. These first 2 steps are fundamental and will give you a good basis for the entire SEO activity. One new site I have done recently is www.saving-light-bulbs.co.uk which is based on a fairly optimised family of around 30 keywords. The energy saving light bulb market is fairly competitive with a range of suppliers offering light bulbs of CFL, LED and halogen technology and making the important analogy to the environment. I have chosen in this case to target some fairly competitive terms like 'energy saving light bulbs', 'halogen bulbs', 'LED bulbs' and most importantly 'light bulbs' which whilst being tricky to get good rankings on are fundamental to this market. However the choice is complemented with less competitive terms like 'LED G4 Capsule' which are far easier to get a good search ranking position in the early stages of SEO.