Bolding important phrases, especially in longer paragraphs and posts, aids the scanability of the text, which is much more important in an online medium than in conventionally; moreso in a mildly-competitive forum such as SO. Additionally, I try to make reading those phrases in isolation (i.e. without the rest of the text) also sensible, and if it conveys the gist, then it feels like I've done a good job.
In particular for answers, the bold phrase will state the direct answer, while the rest of the text explains it. Or conversely, the direct or important piece of the question will be in bold. If you revisit the question with this in mind, did it help or hurt? Would removing all except the bold text be an improvement or make it worse? (Perhaps some of the major benefit from this process is how it shapes my own view of the answer to be more like someone else's?)
I feel italics should be used less frequently than bold, and I use them primarily for a change of tone where I wish to add character, or to emphasize a single word or short phrase that should not be read in isolation.
I wish click-here links were more often avoided. Not a huge problem (especially with the SO crowd compared to others, I believe), but using the domain, the full URL, or just parts from the URL is much better if you can't think of better link text.
Various real examples are in my SO answers, or read a few specific posts that prompted me to put this idea into words and get feedback.