SEO, IT'S A HIGH MAINTENANCE RELATIONSHIP
I've found that the first hurdle for any organization considering SEO is to gain realistic expectations. Many people are shocked to find that they 1., shouldn't expect much of an increase in rank for a few months and 2., that the costs associated with it can be substantial. That said there is a tremendous potential upside to doing this right! We've seen businesses achieve amazing tangible results in terms of new sales inquiries.
There are a number of channels available; the on-page and off-page optimization, leveraging the abundant social media scene for profit, business blogging, and article/PR syndication. The list goes on ...
Tip: The single most important thing to remember with regard to increasing your rank is that inbound links (links from other relevant sites pointing to your website) are the most powerful way to generate positive upward momentum on Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN etc.
As you look into SEO options whether in-house or outsourced, remember to stay realistic. Those seeking a quick result will only experience frustration. But those who are educated can plan for a greater level of long term success using the powerful nature of SEO.