IMHO I agree- Most of this SEO talk is just noise - think about your users, how they're interacting with your page, if you're serving them appropriately. Forget Google, forget SEO in general.
There's no way for us to know what / how Google really works - they're untangling data that is beyond their grasp - nevermind ours. If they stop sending people to the right place, they'll die and be replaced- so we can assume that's their primary goal.
Be the place that does the best job. As you said.
That's the best thing i've read re: SEO for a while - once in a while i forget - nice reminder :)