Yes, I know the thread title is rather "authoritative" and that people will think I'm talking out of my rectum, but I don't care. I've seen enough garbage, baloney, and flat out lies about SEO to gag a maggot a thousand times before getting to Hell and back, and I've had enough of it.
Earlier tonight I wrote a post in another thread, which had started out as a "what to do before SEOing a site" but I got carried away and ended up belting out a "bunker buster" as you may choose to call it.
Now, while the topic at hand may not have anything to do with the Google Sandbox effect (I won't even debate if it's real or not, since I could honestly care less) or how to pick your keywords (or what tools to use - and let's face it, like coffee, everyone has their favorite brand and flavor), this WILL teach you what you really need to know. You'll learn a bit about HTML semantics, how to properly use HTML elements and attributes, so even if you're an HTML coder, you might want to listen up and pay attention anyway, ya just might learn something.
Now, I know I'm going to get flamed for this, especially by the radicals among us, but you know what? I don't care. You can negative rep me all you want, and it still won't matter. I'm a developer by trade, and among my sites under development is a search engine site for a niche I'm very passionate about (table-top warfare gaming). Anyway, on to the show as they say.
Due to the 20K character limit, one tip got added to the third post in this thread - please consider that part of the second post. Also, while the content is copyrighted BY ME (and yes, I will not hesitate to issue DMCA takedown notices if I find it published elsewhere without my permission), the three column layout example is in the public domain; this means you can do anything you want with it except copyright it and pass it off as your own work.