Jill's search engine optimization articles pretty much cover everything you need to know to optimize. Some are slightly dated, but they do have dates on them and Jill's been updating many of them over the past months.
Start with the 10 Tips to the Top of the Search Engines article.
And there are a few newsletter articles that are a good place to start and Jill's other SEO articles.
A good one is the Art of SEO which helps to explain why there's no specific formula to getting high rankings.
For Link Building Advice, see our pinned Link Popularity Articles thread.
I'm going to add my own Successful Sites Articles because they are written for newbies as well. If you are just getting started, I'd recommend reading:
The Hungry Little Spider and
Threads of the Web- Linking for Success and
The Secret Sauce in Web Site Marketing.
Also, if you think you need a submitting service, don't miss Search Engine Submission is a Scam.
If you've been working at SEO for a while, you may want to read Superstition and Sacrifices: Cause and Effect in Search Rankings Hard to Determine
- gregorysmith, Julie, Graham and 4 others like this