A Cre8asite Forum thread started by Kim, named It's the SEO that counts, not user centered design talks about a recent article at C|Net named Is search ruining the Web? Read the article and take a look at the thread for some very good opinion.
You and I spend our days balancing usability & rankings. Often there is a win-win situation, but sometimes you need to make a choice. But when you think about it, the title of the article, "Is search ruining the Web?" Well, in my opinion, sometimes yes. In some cases, where you need to sacrifice usability to ensure your pages are search engine friendly (i.e. duplicate content, breadcrumb string without cookies or sessions, and so on) within budget and without the risk of going against a search engines quality guidelines - the Web user is hurt by search.
Is the search engine optimization consultant to blame? Absolutely not. It is the search engine that is to blame. But to be fair, the search engines do not want there to be an SEO Industry. They would prefer to allow people to build Web sites and not think about SEO. Then the search engines would be smart enough to rank pages no matter what types of unintentional issues occur with the pages being search friendly. Unfortunately for the search engines and fortunately for the search engine optimization industry, I can not see search engines achieving this milestone any time in the next five to ten years, or more.