The challenge is to judge the value of the content contained within, as you highlighted, and how that will always be subjective. 100% agree with your point on transparency over quality.
I don’t think things are so binary, though, to the point you either completely ignore SEO, or you let that drive your entire editorial calendar; to the point you either use a fear-inducing headline (“10 design mistakes you’re making”) or you use a boring one. There’s a balance to everything. But again: pretty subjective. Just the fact people stopped to think about that once they read my article makes me happy.
Thanks for your visit :)