I did everything I found to be positive to promote traffic (avoiding bad practices) and it worked. Suddenly the traffic started going up and up. It depends on your website topic but in my experience, it takes at least one year and a half.
Anybody can buy a domain and start a website, so SE take sites more in count as they grow old.
This is another thing... I constantly study my stats and I have found that, every 12-15 months, the traffic goes up like if it was a staircase. I've read of others reaching 1K visitors in one year... not me. :( but I see the tendency. No, for every site I manage, I know every 14 months aprox, the traffic will rise.
Also, keep a clean code and respect standards (not a bunch of hidden keywords). I have redesigned websites and saw how they sunk... and others went up. So, I've been trying to guess from here and there what works.
And my list is
- clean code, no garbage with flash and flash and flash
- easy to navigate, if your site needs a manual, its wrong
- good and original content
- think about how people search for information, build some lines on your text for that too
- don't relate your site to bad or evil sites...
- update your site on a regular basis
- answer mails
- yes, use metatags
And once you ended with all this, start all over again... is forever.
*** Maybe you can use something to build traffic and SE take time to find out.., but webmasters do notice this and will deny to exchange links or appear on your site. Those bad habits do hurt your site, is just a matter of time.
Also, when something is declared "wrong" it can be HARD to update your entire site to remove those practices
Also, experiment. I started a blog where I just write "stuff" and I still don't understand... the design and content are nothing compared to my sites... but the traffic went from zero to 300 unique visits per day in 5 months.
I'm still learning