Just so you are clear on it: this is how all black and gray hat seos think about websites: disposable. I was going to mention that as one of the signs you were in the hands of one of them, but this poster was kind enough to provide a fine example of this type of thought.
A disposable website is the bread and butter of bad seos. Thinking your site is disposable shows that they cannot create a true destination quality authority site. Why? Because it's hard, and it can't be done usinug cheap or easy tricks. Having an authority site is worth a 100 times more than making a few dollars off a disposable domain: there's a reason they are doing seo after all and not running successful large websites.
Anyone who talks about pushing the limits is pushing your site towards eventual failure. That's because it's at the limits. This is precisely the type of seo I was referring to. Again, I would avoid using seos for quite a while. What good ones can do, anyone can do. It's not rocket science, believe me. Of all the web skills out there, seo involves the least technical knowledge, all you have to do is read forums, read some whitepapers now and then, read black and gray hat seo forums so you can know what methods to avoid.
One method I like is finding an seo forum that attracts very bad, low skill web masters, then read their questions. Since everything they have heard of is almost always old tricks repackaged and sold in things like 'seo newsletters' that you pay to get, pretty much every method they mention should be avoided, since it's a dead certainty that google is going to target it on its next update.
Link building on a commercial level is required only when your site has nothing particularly unique or valuable on it in the first place, in other words, most of the sites on the web. There's a reason duplicate content etc is a major issue, most people can't or won't create their own, but still want to collect the cash at the end of the day for doing basically nothing. Leave those people to the seos, it's a perfect match.
If you want to build a high quality destination type website, then keep as far from these types of people as you humanly can. Think of the truly successful sites you actually use, they don't do this stuff. I see new sites come up, with good content, happens all the time. I can think of at least 10 news sites I've been using routinely that just started in the last 2 years, I found them through real, organic links to their unique, valuable, and worthwhile content. I did not find them because they used seo.
If you don't want to build a high quality, destination type site, then I'm totally wasting these words, but you kind of sound like you do. I could be wrong.
It's true that seo tactics work short term, but remember, as the poster above reminds us so perfectly, it's short term, it's not for someone who wants long term success and who has the ability to create that success themselves because of their products, services, or content.
There's lots of stuff you can do to improve your chances, as noted, brett's 26 steps are a very good start, but you'll notice that you never see an seo recommend that, it's timeconsuming, takes a long time, and is a long term strategy aimed towards permanent and lasting success.
I'm glad these last two posters added their notes, since they both demonstrate this thinking quite well, and it's what you should avoid if you care about your site long term.
What you should find, if you feel like you need help, is a collection of people with very good skills in the area you need help in. If you need programming, design, etc, help, then find help in those areas. Look for people with a knowledge of seo who are not seos. Again, seo is not complicated, it's not hard, it's just a relatively small handful of fairly cheap and easy to detect tricks. That's the reason for the 'disposable site' idea.
When you find good people, try to keep them onboard with you. It's worth keeping up on seo stuff, since search engines change all the time, but the cleaner your stuff is, the less time you have to spend on it, since you don't have to worry as much.
As some posters have posted here repeatedly, if your site's success depends on google alone that is not a business model that has any value.