Ever see one of those movies where some secret government agency has a super high-tech office in an old, dilapidated building in some rundown part of town? The camera starts on the outside, looking over a ghetto as it moves down the street. It zeros in on a rundown building that a squatter would be embarrassed to live in. Then, as the camera moves inside we are shown a state-of-the art facility worthy of a Manhattan high-rise office in the 22nd century.
Sometimes SEO is just like that, but the opposite. A lot of time and energy is spent on the “exterior” (search engine rankings) while ignoring the interior (building a great website.)