Sand - 12:53 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)
I agree that good content is important but by itself it will likely fail.
First of all, I totally agree with you. What you are preaching is smart, and you should follow that blueprint every single time over any other option.
With that said, I've done a little bit of testing on this front. Obviously, I have not been able to prove anything definitively. But about a year ago, I setup one page websites. Each site contained only one article (that I wrote). Some articles were very long (2k+ words), while others were short (200-300 words).
Initially, none of the sites ranked for any of their target terms, and over time I kind of forgot about the test. But within the last month or so, the sites with the very long article have started to show up for some rather competitive searches (it took almost a year of just sitting there doing nothing for that to happen). They're mostly bottom of page 1 / top of page 2, but still, I'm impressed. None of these sites have any backlinks or quality signals at all, aside from the content on the page.
I would hate for you to think that content on its own is enough to do anything, because most of the time it is not. But I've done enough testing to learn that sometimes, when you write exceptionally long content anyway, that is enough to get somewhere eventually.