Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.
Michael Martinez: It`s neither right nor wrong. If you decide you want to earn traffic from a highly competitive query where everyone is using links you will probably have to get some links too. Now you might be able to do that if you create really interesting or newsworthy content. People sometimes do that. But if you`re just following some SEO tutorial and picking keywords without any real passion for a topic you`re not likely to create the kind of content that naturally performs well. On the other hand, if you are consistent and persistent about creating good, interesting content and you don`t worry about links then over time you should see improvement. A few articles or product pages will float to the top. In any business, though, success comes from the effort you put into the business. And it helps to be able to leverage some pre-existing relationships. But if you don`t have those relationships then you can still forge new ones.
David Gaskin: I think time is always well spent building reasonable links to your website.
Stockbridge Truslow: Back in the olden days of SEO, there was always this great debate. One person would make the assertion "Content is King" and then someone else would jump in and say, "No, it`s the links, Stupid!" Then someone else would come in and insist that it was keywords in the URL or something else. Ultimately, SEO is like a big pot of stew. You might have a favorite ingredient, and you might have a least favorite ingredient. But in the end, you need ALL the ingredients to be in there or you can`t really call it stew. You`ll never find a "magic bullet" in SEO. There is no "THE ONE THING" that you can do and automatically get results. You can prioritize things and focus more of your energy in a certain area - but even that changes over time. For a while you may be putting more energy into link building and then be able to back off a bit and put more energy into creating more content. And then you might focus some time on going through your theme templates and marking them up more clearly. And then you might spend some time looking at your sign navigation and rethinking some of your paths-to-goal, and so on. What Mr. Martinez is saying above is true, though. You CAN get some sort of results by just focusing on content - if it`s good an has the power to earn links on its own - but a little time spent trying to get some for it is one step better. And some time spent promoting it other ways so that more people see it and are likely to link to it, one step better again. Your web site`s niche and topics might change the priorities too. If you have a subject that there is already a lot of information out there - then your pages and posts need to be written that much better. If there isn`t a lot of existing information, then you may want to spend a bit more time on link building so that people know this rare info is out there.
Ammon Johns: Small thing, but important to remember, SEO is never "the seo" unless you are referring to the only person who practices SEO in a specific group.Google themselves said that the three most important parts of SEO/Ranking are Content, Links, and RankBrain. They also said that there`s no order of importance difference between content and links.It wasn`t really as remarkable a statement as many made out. Ever since Google first started looking at links, back in 1998, and in combination with AltaVista using links to spot doorway pages (leading to the invention of the Hallway Page), we knew that there was On-page SEO and Off-page SEO - and that`s really what Content and Links is telling you in a simplified, Google way.And for the third part, Rankbrain, read that as "how search engines process queries, and decide which flavour or variant of algorithms to use".
Adam John Humphreys: Write amazing content and put it into the hands of influencers so they can share it. Highly competitive terms can do really well if a site has great content people love. Links certainly come.