The best way to "seo" a site, is to build it correctly from the start!
The thing about web design is that it's no different to any other form of building!
There's an 'easy way' that looks pretty and dont work so well. Then there's the 'right way', looks pretty and works properly.
The evidence is in the pricing, a real web design company will charge real money, As for the cowboys, well they'll do it for beans!
My advice is: If you are going to do it yourself then make sure you have at least 300hrs in your time frame!
If you build your site correctly from the start and maintain it accordingly, you should never have to pay someone our have to resort to gimicks in order to achive relevancy, although there are legitimate shortcuts that you will learn along with the coding and formating of your site.
The alternative is to spend a weekend studying the google guidelines and then, contract a designer with your infrormed reqiurements. :-)