Curious as to what seo firms actually do for clients. If I was doing it I’d take a look at the site and identify the keywords that will convert best with keycompete and real PPC data which would probably be the most accurate.
Then get these keywords in title,h1 tags and site copy. Fix easy problems like duplicate content, domain name canonicalisaton (sp?), mod_rewrite for dynamic pages and have good internal link structure.
After that it’s all about links and how to get them. Each site and niche is different so youd have to check all backlinks on competitors, see if you can get these links as well. And basically do what you can to get authority links, link bait, contact authority webmasters. But the easiest method would be to buy links from sites with low pr that stay below the radar.
That’s all I can think of, it does seem very basic. What’s the secret sauce that allows firms to charge thousands?