This school of thought adopts the principle that the content of your website is what really matters. This could be described as the "purist" view which assumes that if people develop high-quality websites, they will be rewarded with high-quality search rankings.
The theory is that good content will attract attention, inbound links and other referrals. Over time the accumulation of good press will give you many of the same benefits as other methods of SEO. In addition, this type of "natural" referral tends to be more genuine, diverse, robust and long-lasting.
This approach is better suited to websites which can provide large quantities of content, especially unique content. If, for example, your website is about the life cycle of the native New Zealand tuatara lizard, you will probably have plenty of content in a field without much competition. In this case a modest amount of content and a few links from other sites will give you a good chance of being well-placed in the SERPS.
If your website covers a more popular topic you will need to try harder. For example, MediaCollege.com provides content in the area of film and electronic media production. This is a much more competitive field, with many thousands of websites competing for the same keywords. At this level it is much harder to get good SERP placement through content alone, although it is still possible.
It gets worse for those competing for the very top keywords. If your site provides content in the area of "debt reduction" or "online gambling" you will find the competition is so fierce that content alone won't be enough.
Content-based SEO alone may or may not be enough to give you good SERP placement, but in any case it will ceratinly benefit your website to some degree.
Content for Non-Content Sites
Many webmasters complain that they do not have a "content-based" website and they are therefore at a disadvantage. This often applies to business sites. For example, the owner of a furniture store website might bemoan the fact that their content is not unique and they have no hope of attracting customers unless they rely heavily on non-content SEO.
In most cases this simply means the webmaster is not being creative enough. Almost any topic you can name can be written about. If you sell furniture on your website, write pages of advice about how to choose furniture, care for it, remove stains, make simple repairs, etc. You could employ an interior decorator to write articles about how furniture integrates with design. Do some research of your own and write about the history of chairs. This may sound an unlikely recipe for attracting customers but you would be surprised at how much it can help.
Except in very rare cases you can add unique content to your site if you are sufficiently motivated.
Quality vs Quantity
It's not only the quality of content which matters - quantity is also very important. People search for a huge variety of words in all sorts of combinations. The more text you have, the more chance that some particular phrase will match the exact phrase someone is searching for.
Some search engines also place importance on quantity - they assume that a large website has had more effort put into development and is more likely to be high quality.
In short, it is not a case of quality vs quantity. The more of each you can get, the better.
Content-based SEO is usually hard work in the initial stages and slow to reap rewards. It can also be difficult for some websites to create enough content to be effective. However it is likely to give you the best, most stable long-term results. Once established, content-based SEO becomes easier to maintain than other methods.
Next Page: Non-Content SEO