Before you start to promote your website, fill it with content. An attempt to promote an empty site leads to negative consequences. Firstly, a visitor who gets to such empty site, will leave it immediately and will never come back. Secondly, search engines (not all but many) re-index websites not very often and therefore will remember your site to be empty for a long time.
After a website has been filled with content, a period of active promotion follows. Active promotion includes:
Submitting the site to as many search engines and site directories as possible. There are many special sites doing such work for you. We recommend one rather good service - 1ps.biz - automatic submission to directories and search engines. It offers some free options.
Exchanging links with other sites. This influences positively site PR (page rank, citation index). Sites with higher PR get higher place in search engines. Partners for link exchange can be found anywhere, e.g. in uCoz Site Rating or any other directory (Yahoo!, Dmoz etc).
Try to regularly update your website to persuade your visitors into coming back.