Getting a new website found is increasingly difficult. Competition is fierce. It's a lot like playing pool in that it's more about finesse than brute force.
I don't offer search engine optimization (SEO) as a paid service. It's important for me to be really good at one thing and Joomla is it. HOWEVER! I am pretty good at SEO. My own site comes up #3 out of 11.5 million results if you Google "joomla web design". I will tell you this was no easy task and it took a long time. If you are willing and dedicate the time, effort and a little money, I'll tell you everything I know about how to get your site up in the search results.
A very interesting and powerful tool is WebsiteGrader. This tool tells you where your website stands and offers solutions for improvements. As a personal testimonial, when I followed their advice, my page rank went up a point. Today, montanodesigns.com has a 98.3% grade. If I had about 3 hours to dedicate to working on their advice I'd probably be close to 100%.
Let's talk about some of the finer points of SEO
Page Rank: I'm not really sure how much this matters regarding your results placement. There are sites with lower rank that appear above me and higher rank that appear below me in the results. Where I've found it useful is people now want to pay me for a link from my site to theirs. You have to follow Google's rules to the letter and be a very credible site to get a decent page rank. The age of your site matters as well.
Site Age: I couldn't get past a PR4 the first 5 years. I'd heard of the Google Sandbox but didn't really have a clue what it meant. My interpretation is that Google waits until your site has some age (typically 5 years) to determine if you are a credible business. This is not true across the board. The Joomla.org site is relatively young and has a PR of 9. About 3 months after my sites 5th birthday my page rank jumped from 4 to 5. You decide. What I was doing when the PR jumped: I upgraded my site to Joomla 1.5. I culled out a lot of the junk articles in my site. I removed most of the outbound links to my clients sites. I paid close attention to the HTML code. Many of the components I use have text that are simply comments from the developer, but the spiders count this in the density. I removed those comments or adjusted them to suit.
Keyword Density: I've blogged about this briefly my my article aptly titled Keyword Density. Find YOUR target market and write your website content enriched with terms that will bring you visitors/prospective clients. Ex. Joomla Website Design That is my target market. I'm not a programmer, I don't create Flash websites. I don't want to appeal to the masses. You will find my articles are loaded with those 3 little words. (Including this one <wink>) Competition on the internet is an all out war. If you only offer your services in your state or town then be VERY specific about that. Use the name of your town frequently in the text of your website. Now you are only competing with other similar business in your town. (Big fish in a little pond is a pretty good place to be)
Inbound Links: Are they relevant to your site? If they are not, they are not important to you. You want sites that talk about the same things you do to link to your site. Plain and simple. If there are professional organizations with forums discussing your industry, become a regular contributor and make certain a link to your site is in your forum signature. If there are blogs about your industry or products, comment on them and add a link back to your site. You need credible and relevant links to you, not random trash links. DO NOT BUY LINKS!
Outbound Links: Be very careful who you link to. An excessive amount of outbound links will dilute your page rank and credibility. If you must have outbound links, I highly recommend adding "rel=nofollow" to the html tag. This tells the search engine spiders not to follow this link. Most importantly, add "target=_blank" so the new page opens in a new window. You really spent a lot of time getting that visitor to your site, do you want to send her away?
Anchors Aweigh!: Anchor text, what the heck is that? See that hyperlink to the left? That's anchor text. URLs linking to other sites may not have any relevant words in the link itself. You can tell the spiders what this link is about and how it is relevant to your article by using a description as the title of the link. I highly discourage the ubiquitous "click here" to read more; It's wasted "breath."
Social Bookmarking: This goes back to relevant inbound links. If you can get a description of your site in a sentence or paragraph including a link back it's worth the effort. Additionally, if you can get people talking about your site that's a really good thing.
Blogging: Write about what you know. I blog about Joomla. There are a couple of good reasons to do this. One. I know a lot about this particular CMS and it's good karma to share. Two. It can create a buzz about me, my site and my services. If I write a good article and people link to it, I get inbound relevant links and since you've read this far you know that is wicked cool!
RSS Feeds: So now you've written a great article about your industry or products. Send it out to the world via an RSS feed. Let other people post a snippet of it on their site linking back to you. Are you seeing the theme here?
Meta Data: Who knows if this still works. Back in the day you could put some tags in the header HTML of your site describing what it was about and that's all the search engines cared about. People took advantage of that and described their (begins with a P and ends with ORN) site was about camping, or Mickey Mouse...whatever. Remember when you used to do a random search from something innocuous and all the sudden you've got a barrage of shocking websites popping up on your screen. Thankfully, the search engines figured a way to put the kibosh on that. Content is King. I've seen wonderfully ranked pages that have absolutely no meta data in the header, but the text on the site is exactly what I was looking for. Personally, I think a safe bet is to have the meta data match the most frequently used phrases on that specific page and let the Gods sort it out.
Domain Name: If I'd known then what I know now!!!! When I started Montano Designs that name was the reasonable thing to register. Nowadays, it's important to have your keywords in your domain name. There are some tricks of the trade that can help you, but I don't have a complete grasp on them all. That's why I don't charge for this service. I will give you an example of something I did for a client with a new website. He has a beach house he rents so we registered two domains. ocean-isle-beach-rental.com and 16private.com We wanted one domain name to have the keywords and a short name for verbally sending friends to the site. They are both directed to the same place. The site is new and I don't see that plan has paid off yet, but I think it will. In the grand plan, it's a cost effective gamble.
Pay Per Click Advertising: Want some immediate inbound traffic? Pay for it. PPC or CPC advertising can be very beneficial or a money pit. You really have to know what you are doing and who your target market is. Let's take a look at this example. You want to bid on a word that is relevant to your business. You are a hairdresser and think "hair" would be a great term. To put you at the top of the heap if someone searched that single word could cost you TONS of money. You are competing with every hairdresser in the world. You're also competing with the Broadway play, the 1979 movie, wig makers, shampoo, dye, toupees, etc... If you choose more specific phrases instead of single words, your money will be better spent. If you live in a large city but work in a specific part of town try something like (Dillworth Hair Salon) You'll get less people searching for that, but those are the people who would actually walk into your shop. It's not about volume, it's about quality.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO: Sounds like a cowboy movie. White Hat SEO is following the painstaking rules the search engines have laid out to gain placement results and page rank. Black Hat SEO is trying to trick the spiders. Hidden text, text that is the same color as your background, buying links from link farms, keyword stuffing, etc... Not that I'm a goody two-shoes, but I did that back when I first started out and got banned from Google for a month. It's not worth it.
Last but not least, what does your site look like? Does your site say you are running a professional and reliable business, or does it say I don't make enough money doing this and I can't afford a professional website designer?