TheOptimizationIdiot - 5:33 pm on Mar 4, 2013 (gmt 0)
It really depends on how it's done, so maybe better than discouraging based on personal preference it's better to just answer the question from an SEO perspective? IDK, just thinking it seems odd to me personal preference or like/dislike of the use of specific way of styling something is in an SEO discussion when those aspects are really neither here, nor there, as far as "spam flagging" goes.
For a couple useful non-spammy examples, try
The w3.org TOC [w3.org...] [scroll a bit to get there].
To see "multicolor elements" on the same page try [w3.org...]
I personally find the orange used for <code> within a link in the TOC helpful when I'm looking for information on a specific element/attribute/object.
You'll find orange, green and blue throughout the page on different elements if you follow the second link and personally, again, I find it very helpful.
I also think it works fairly well on the php.net site where they highlight the important words with <em><code> [php.net...]
...could using <strong> perhaps contribute to over optimization...
That's one key reason I avoid the use of elements, except as described in the docs.
The big 3 (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) all sent teams of people to work on HTML5, which basically means they have agreed to it as a standard and their algos have to start somewhere, which, imo, really has to be with the "correct interpretation" of HTML elements/markup and then "trying to figure it out from there" when people do their own thing.
In other words I'd use <b> not <strong> in your situation, cause you're talking about <strong> on a lede and that's where they've said <b> is appropriate.