Have you considered doing some usability testing? You basically choose around 5 testers in your target market and sit down with them individually. Have them access your site, and you sit back and record how they navigate your site, what they have trouble with, when they leave the site, etc. Don't interact with them, just take notes on their behavior. Then afterwards you can question them if you need further clarification on anything. You can learn a lot about your website by doing this, see which areas may be confusing for users or learn why they don't perform your call to action. It may help you pinpoint the problem.
I'm assuming you are referring to directory submissions. If this is the case, you need to be careful who you are submitting to. Google will actually penalize you if you are submitting to directory banks, and you may find your page rank dropping as a result. Make sure you are submitting to quality directories that are relevant to your business.
There are several tools which make keyword research easier. A few of my favorites are:
1. Google AdWords: You can enter a word/phrase, a website, or a category and you will be given a list of relevant keywords, including information on how competitive the keywords are and the global and local monthly searches.
2. Word Tracker: Instantly gives you thousands of relevant keywords, including information on volume and competition. They will search your competitors’ sites to give you keywords they are using.
3. KeywordSpy: Provides related keywords and keyword phrases, along with information on competitors’ keywords. Provides information on average cpc, average clicks per day, and ad count.
Incoming links are great for increasing your page rank. Here are a few ways to increase your links:
exchange links with relevant website
submit your website to top directories such as dmoz.org
create and submit press releases
write and submit online articles
guest blog for relevant websites and put a link to your website in the "about author" section
Here are some of my favorite tools for competitive research:
1. Spy Fu: There are both free and fee-based options. This service allows you to see which keywords your competitors are purchasing for their SEM campaign, and also which keywords they are optimizing their site for.
2. SEOmoz.org: This is a fee-based service but offers a free trial. It monitors your competitors’ rankings and link metrics so you can gain an edge on the search results page.
3. Raven: This is a fee-based service but offers a free trial. It helps you discover your top competitors and gives you a side-by-side comparison, giving you information such as their page rank and number of pages indexed.
4. Open Site Explorer: This free service is powered by SEOmoz. You can find your competitors’ page authority, domain authority, and link metrics.
5. Alexa: There are both free and fee-based options. This service compares your site to your competitors, giving you traffic rank, reach, pageviews, and more. It shows which terms your competitors use to get traffic, the types of visitors they are attracting, and information about affiliate programs.