The bottom line is there are a set number of things to do that have been pretty much the same for years. The rest of the rules/tips/ideas change often and to keep up with them means keeping up with a wide variety of resources. And it's all colored by if you use HTML or XHTML or PHP or?. The subject you've chosen can get pretty deep and technical very quickly.
Resources I can think of off the top of my head (by no means a complete list):
Search Engine World [searchengineworld.com], Google's Webmaster guidelines [google.com], and W3C [w3.org] (for ensuring you produce valid code which I think affects your SE ranking). The list of resources here on WebmasterWorld is vast - you'll need to do some digging.
Hi Lee I would love to know the best practices of optimisation...of what i know, i don't think there are any books as such that you can refer to as these techniques keep changing....All the best for your report....