It can be done. I've done it many times in many different industries. There is no secret, but rather, it's just knowing what to do. I've made just about every mistake one can make with a website, but I learned from every setback. If you were only allowed to do one thing to get ranked for your site in Google, without a doubt, all you'd need to do is get links for your site.
Yes, there are many other factors involved in getting your site to a top position. But this is the most powerful way as of this writing to get a top spot in Google. It's not just enough to have links pointing to your site, but you need to have your keyword "anchor linked" to your site. Anchor linking is when you use your keyword phrase as the click-able text for a link. So, instead of saying "Click Here", you would use "Widgets" as the link text.
Now, another point of consideration is determining what keyword/phrase you want to use to get your site found. Most times, people impulsively choose a one word phrase. While this would be a great way to bring traffic to your site, would it bring targeted traffic, with people looking specifically for your product or service? Most times when people type in a one letter keyphrase, they are in the beginning of their search.
They may type in "Shoes", but are really looking for "Running Shoes". So, if you have a top ranking for shoes, do you serve that user's needs? Maybe, but they may also be looking for dress, casual, Women's, Men's, Children's, athletic, girl's, boy's, etc. This is why when you begin to optimize your site, you should focus on more targeted keyword phrases.
Suppose you sell a certain brand name of dress shoes. For this example, we'll call the famous brand XYZ. So, by getting anchor links as "XYZ Dress Shoes", you are already eliminating those users who are looking for another brand or line of shoe. Next, you need to make sure that the page that gets linked contains the on the page content with "XYZ Dress Shoes". If you would link to a page without relevant content, Google would view this link as possible spam, or more appropriately, irrelevant content.
Now, once you have compiled your list of keywords, you need to see which one are searched on the most. The best tool for this is WordTracker, and it is worth the tiny fee you need to pay to have access for one day. There are also free tools online that you can use, but WordTracker will give you the most accurate results.
Once you have run through your list of all your keywords, the obvious choice is to pick the ones with the highest amount of searches (and content relevant to your site!). The next step is to then begin the process of a link campaign. Now, I can already hear you complaining about doing a link exchange. This is only 1/3 of your campaign. The ideal method is to not only engage in a reciprocal link exchange, but to also engage in strategic linking.
Strategic linking is when you get a link to your site without having to return the favor. What's the best way to do this? Write an article just like this one. If I get one website to use this article and have it point to my site, I've just created another link to my site. Pretty easy, eh?
Since you have now engaged in a linking campaign, you should expect to see results in Google in as little as 4 days, and as far as 6 months. All of this is determined by where your links are coming from, and the popularity of the site from which the link came. Next, you need to get as many links as you can pointing to your site with your popular keyword phrase anchor linked to your site.
As I mentioned before, there many other factors that will only enhance your rankings in Google, but the implementation of a link campaign is the strongest method to get your site to a top ranking!