Yes monkey, you missed it. Used to be you could ask for links, and great sites would give you links. And you could get a LOT of sites to do that. No more.
Prior to that, SEO's could make a change on a page, resubmit to Google, and in 10 minutes see their rankings change. Ah, the good old days.
SEO's not going anywhere anytime soon. Just the old school link building has lost it's lustre a bit - it's tougher to do than it was.
It's still comparatively easy though. I shudder to think what my business would be like if I had to market the way my competitors do that don't use the internet.