The main business we do at the Portugal Works companies (Carvalho Custom and CorkLink) are pretty much reliant on Google for their success. Our only shop window is the website and so the only way potential clients are going to find us is through recommendations or via a search engine. We have managed to get high google rankings for pretty much all the important key words that prospective clients might use to find us and it really has not been that difficult to do.
The key thing to remember is that you should work with Google and not try and trick it – periodically Google updates its algorithms (the formulas it uses to decide in which order pages should appear according to different search terms) and a lot of the changes they have introduced in recent years have been made to penalise websites that use sneaky techniques to try and boost their ranking. Google has become extremely crafty at working out if your site is legitimate or not, so the best advice is to make it as legitimate as possible. There is an idea around that Search Engine Optimization involves a whole series of black arts that only people in the know understand, but that is frankly nonsense.
So here is what I would advise you do to get a high Google ranking:
1. Use WordPress for your site – it is low-cost, extremely flexible and automatically does a lot of things to make sure that your site works well to optimise search engine ranking. (My advice would be to use a professional WordPress developer, easily found for not too much money at places like Odesk or People per Hour.)
2. Have a blog and update it as often as you can. Google loves fresh content and having an updated blog also appeals to visitors to your site anyway.
3. Be aware when you are writing anything on your site that you should try and include the words that people might use to search for your site in the text.
4. Try and develop some free stuff (either content or applications) that people will really want to use as this will get people linking to your site.
5. Be patient – Google ranks more established sites higher and it will take a while for you to build up the necessary content to get your ranking up there.
6. You always have to keep working on improving and updating your site to maintain yourself at the top of Google. If you let your site go stale you will start to slip down the rankings. Also keep yourself informed about what is going on in the world of search engines – I find Steve Masters really helpful for example).