Welcome thagamer, You have offically come to the right place.
First you want to read back through the entire forum of Webmaster World because it's full of information that is current, useful and cutting edge. While you are at it open a notepad and cut and paste notes of information you find and develop questions from that list. Most of the questions you are thinking about right now have probably been answered around here somewhere. I'm sure you'll come up with a few new ones though and those will stimulate discussion which will help all of us.
Have fun. Bookmark this place and return each morning with a cup a coffee. That works for me :-)
There is TONS of information to read here and finding a starting point it always the hard part. Like paynt said "Most of the questions you are thinking about right now have probably been answered around here somewhere."
You can write down your questions and search for the answers with the hany search tool [searchengineworld.com]
But to give you the best plan I suggest your start here [searchengineworld.com]