Search engine optimisation or seo for short, is all about feeding the search engines with the information they need to give your website the position it deserves. If we consider Google as the prime example, there are numerous factors which can influence your rankings, these include (but are certainly not limited to) the title tag on the page, the content of the page, including how the pages relate to each other in terms of content, the navigational structure of the site, the authority and age of a website, and the links back to it, including all factors above in relation to the other site which links to yours, and the specific anchor text they use for it. There are of course numerous marketing companies in the UK who can manage this whole process for you.
There are absolutely thousands of resources out there if you want to have a go yourself, but beware there is an awful lot of misinformation out there, freely offered by those who either have no idea what they are doing, or are touting for business which they are unable to fulfil. SEOMoz is a good website, with lots of detailed information about the intricacies of SEO, however it would probably be a bit daunting if you are new to it. The forums at V7N are a good starting point, as they are well moderated so it keeps the misinformation to a minimum compared to many of the others.
Another great source of information are the seo blogs which are around, these are often full of tips and tricks on specific issues, such as how to structure a title tag, building effective back links or just covering specifics which people have tested them-self. There’s a good blog here, just bear in mind that you can’t take everything you read as gospel, so if you read conflicting opinions about something, test it out and see how it works for you on a less important page before updating your entire site just to see it lose ranked positions.
Incidentally, when talking about all the things which do affect search engine marketing in general, you may have noticed that I didn’t mention the web design itself, that’s because although there are many on page factors which do make a difference, the actual appearance of the website doesn’t. Although, do consider your own behaviour when browsing the internet, you probably stay longer on a site which looks well designed and had some effort put into it.