I fully acknowledge the value of, and need for, actual SEO; I just think that in many cases, the tactics employed under that title would better be described as Search Engine Manipulation or even Abuse.
Everyone wants to rank on Page 1. At least everyone who’s selling something. Obviously that’s not possible as long as Page 1 is limited to X number of links.
So what can you do? Establish a niche, then spend the time and effort needed to become credible with the people who have influence over that area of the web.
You become SEO-relevant by being relevant.
Don’t have the time? Hate Facebook? There are companies that can help you. And individuals (shameless self promotion – hint hint) who can make sure your website looks good to search engine crawlers as well as potential customers.
But you still need to set realistic expectations.
If you sell, for example, x’d-out golf balls by the dozen, chances are good that the SEO company guaranteeing Google Page 1 results within a week for all searches on “cheap golf balls” is gaming the system. Be prepared to have your domain name blacklisted before you sell out of your balls.
On the other hand, if you established your online business say 3 years ago and have built a decent reputation through repeat business, then your site can look like a Yahoo Store circa 2005 and Google will rank you. Exhibit A: www.we-got-your-balls.com
Anyway, read the article if you’re interested in SEO and wondering why it’s hard to compete in the Wild Wild Web.