Google is very clear: nothing will ever beat good relevant content published on a regular basis.
But you do have to get the basics right to help build your site and publish your content in a way that allows the search engines to index you correctly.
There are lots of new and exciting tools for helping get your website in order for SEO purposes. I have tried several recently and WooRank is one that I found particularly useful. I like the way the data is displayed and clear action points are given.
You can try WooRank out here.