When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.
-- Randy Treft
Mike Markson has a thought-provoking post on SEO.
I have a buddy who compares getting VC funding to getting hooked on heroin. He says that instead of optimizing the company to build the right product, the funding often optimizes the company to do whatever is necessary to close the next round.
SEO can be like that. It's such an easy way to get traffic. Certainly easier than making a great product that spreads worth-of-mouth all by itself.
Every month Google allots the web-sites in its index a certain amount of traffic. Some sites do better than others, but for the most part Each site takes its monthly Google traffic home and tries to do the best it can with it.
If you actually look at the recent successful sites over the past few years - YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. - none of them got there by Google traffic. They created a product and figured out a way to get mass appeal outside the Google regulatory system.
There's more, it's worth reading the whole thing.