A friend of mine has written The World’s Shortest Guide to SEO. Here is the core text of the guide:
Create something that people will link to. Repeat.
This isn’t bad advice. If you never create anything that people will want to link to, you’ll have a hard time ranking well in search engines. However, I think it is an overly simplistic view of what it takes to do well on the web.
Imagine that you own a circus. What do you need to do to get people to come to your shows? Obviously you need to create something that people will enjoy. But is that really enough? Probably not. You are going to have to do some marketing and hundreds of other things to make the circus succeed. Sure if your circus is horrible and boring, no one will want to come. However, a good circus show with all of the other aspects well optimized is going to do better than the worlds greatest show where they ignore everything else.
The same thing is true for the web. Well marketed good content is going to be more effective than perfect content that has no other efforts behind it. You may occasionally get lucky with the Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” approach, but most success requires optimizing more than a single aspect.