When I first started Copyblogger in 2006, I was almost militantly against on-page search optimization. Seems strange, since I’d been a successful student of SEO since 2000.
It was because I saw all these people fretting over keywords like it’s 1999, and yet they had no links. Their content was weak. Their sites weren’t trusted.
You can’t optimize something that’s dead in the water. So my initial goal was to get people to focus on content that attracted attention and links first. Only then do you have something you can make better (that’s what optimize means, naturally).