If you want serious traction for your website or e-commerce business, you've got to nail search engine optimization (SEO). It involves doing the right things so that the algorithms used by search engines like Google and Bing assign a high ranking to your site and it shows up top-of-page when people search for the topics you're vested in. Most business owners don't understand how to make it happen, however. That's according to Thatcher Spring, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based GearLaunch, a $100 million e-commerce platform that enables people around the world to own and operate their own online merchandise business by providing tools for design, production, storefronts, marketing and customer service. Here's his advice on the best tactics and tools for improving SEO.

1. Find out where you and your competition rank across search engines.

Do it by using tools such as SE Ranking and Ahrefs which provide detailed reports regarding the average position of you and your competitors within a target region.

2. Analyze your content.

Search engine algorithms are designed to rank websites according to the quality of their content. And the best way to gauge yours is to see how people are sharing--or not sharing--it on social media. BuzzSumo is tool which can help, breaking down each channel separately.

3. Develop unique content.

The search engines don't like copycats and want to see that a website isn't repurposing what's already out there. Copyscape is an online plagiarism checker that detects duplicate content across the web.

4. Study your website's performance.

Use Google Analytics to figure out how each of your pages is performing and which ones need the most attention. You'll also be able to see which pages are best suited to bring in revenue, and a picture of your how and why your visitors interact with your site.

5. Monitor backlinks.

How search engines rank your site depends a lot on the number of reputable and relevant domains that link to your site. Use a tool such as Open Site Explorer to determine your competitors' domain authority and the websites that link to it. "If I'm a merchant selling apparel with pictures of Pit Bulls on them then I probably want to make sure that I have backlinks from various websites that deal in animals or in Pit Bulls specifically," he says. "So the more niche-focused, the better."