Yes, of course you can use search engine optimization and then continue your efforts for as long as you like. One attractive alternative is an SEO company, but you really have to proceed with caution to avoid being taken.
This is just part of life, so you will need to follow the same set of precautions as you would with anything else. For one thing, you must arm your self with useful and accurate information so you are not flying blind, so read these valuable guidelines.
The one thing you must do is ask questions, and try to have some idea about SEO so you know what they are saying. Always be ready to thank them and then continue your search, and you have to be resolute about that. Remember you will be at a serious disadvantage if you know zero about SEO because that means people can tell you anything. Remember a large part of this involves using your head and a healthy dose of common sense, etc. You should realize that someone can use techniques that are not approved of and get your site in a little bit of hot water. If you are not totally comfortable with asking a lot of questions, then you need to work through it, somehow. There are other concerns as well such as being willing to provide you with relevant reports. What you will want to know is ranking progress plus how the backlinking campaigns are coming along. Providing those kinds of data sets is a given, and basically you just want to hear what their comments are. You have to see to it that they are being honest and transparent with you in every way. Very many aspects of doing business involves risk, and that is what you need to accept and deal with.
There has been an ongoing debate about the value of what is called, SEO content, and this is another important area of concern. Content is the life of any website that is looking out to get optimized for the search engines. Make every attempt to find out what they will do and not do, plus you can look at the sites belonging to their clients. Also, a good SEO company will do your keyword research for you, if you want, so just be sure of what you need.
Once you decide to hire an outsider to take care of your SEO, then you just have to wait and see what the results are. Many things can go wrong, and that is why it is almost worth it to pay a lot for a company that has a good record of success. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to reduce all risk, and remember that no company can guarantee you the number one position. Look at their track record and only choose them when you are confident about their services.