No discussion about SEO would be complete without some mention of Google, Google's algorithms, and eventually about which method is best for increasing a website's rank. But the bottom line is this: only the higher-ups at Google know for sure exactly how the algorithms work and the precise formula for determining PageRank. Does that mean we shouldn't bother trying to optimize our search engine rankings? Of course not. It does mean, however, that the energy it takes to debate and analyze which SEO method works best might be better spent performing simple, common sense SEO fixes.
In very basic terms, Google rates websites based on their relevance to the search. So, to optimize your site and increase your PageRank, you need to "prove" to Google that your site is very relevant.
A good place to start is to look at websites that already rank high for their keywords, and work backwards. See what features those sites have that probably contributed to their high ranking. Does that site have a lot of content that is updated regularly? Do they have a lot of links? A blog? What do all of the highest ranked sites have in common? By mirroring the format (but never copying content, of course) of sites already ranked high, you can't lose.
There is nothing wrong with analyzing SEO and algorithms, and for trying to understand the process as a whole. But on the other hand, there is also something to be said for going back to basics. The bare essentials of what makes a website rank high on Google's system are no secret-content and links. So instead of debating the latest technique and trying to figure out how to crack the code, think about spending that time building your site's content and links, and looking at sites that Google already likes.
Sure, this is a very basic approach to SEO, but, like many things in life, getting back to the basics often reminds us of what is really important. And in this case, Google will remind the world that your site is important, with a higher ranking.