There is no good alternative to a good radar detector, save compliance. Either you obey the speed limit or you invest in technology. That's not really true with SEO.
I've said for some time that a well written site will lead people to you as long as you have a niche and you have plenty of content. In a recent post on his Strategic Public Relations blog, Kevin Dugan writes:
"SEO’s effectiveness is proven and it’s an important tool. But a well-tailored message should make elements of SEO automatic."Well said. I would only add that to be effective, this messaging must be updated frequently (blog, perhaps) and should be archived on the site.