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I've just read an article from SEM Research on how to increase search engine traffic. It breaks down the process into three fundamental steps.
I do agree that it can be broken down that way. However, each step carries with it many additional sub-steps. The first step alone necessitates a great deal of keyword research, and this can be fairly task-heavy.
But overall, it's a well-put-together article, and I will definitely keep this outline in mind with any future site development.