If you want a quick summary of basic SEO principles check out this “infographic” in Buzz, the Small Business Blog from WaspBarCode. The SEO for Small Business Cheat Sheet breaks down the most important steps in the SEO process, including keyword selection, and the importance of the correct “meta” information.
I would add that the basic components of the actual content are very important as well. In a blog post, for example, the actual title is probably the most important element. So it is important to keep target keywords in mind when writing article and blog post titles.
I would also add that getting inbound links to your site, page, blog, etc. is also very important – the most important component of SEO according to many experts.
I realize that technically speaking, linking is not part of the SEO process itself. SEO is about optimizing content to score well with the search engines.
But link building is certainly a major part of the broader SEM (search engine marketing) process. Since many people confuse SEO with SEM and just assume they are the same thing, it is a good idea (IMHO) to include linking in a discussion or synopsis of SEO best practices.