Recently the folks over at interviewed a former member of Matt Cutts’ team in the Google Search Quality group. Some of the insights gained from the interview with Andre Wayher are pretty revealing and shed some light on some tactics and strategies for successful search engine optimization. Here are some excerpts and some things to consider:

On link building on the heels of Penguin and Panda algorithm updates…

Purchasing links was always risky but resembled a game of roulette, you could get caught but many people also got away with it. Today it’s not a question IF you get caught, it’s merely a question of WHEN you’ll get caught. Not only this but take PR for example, getting a link from a high PR page used to always be valuable, today it’s more the relevance of the site’s theme in regards to yours, relevance is the new PR.

Very interesting what he says about site relevance versus Page rank. Obviously irrelevant links regardless of Page rank is not a sound strategy, but to hear that Page rank might not even be a factor is interesting and something to keep in mind as they roll out more changes.

On implementing on-page SEO elements appropriately…

Of course you can’t over-do it [on page SEO]as Google now also penalizes for over optimization, so don’t putt more than 2 commercial keywords in your titles or Google will frown upon it. 

Not sure if there was ever a keyword limit for titles, but this is good to know. We recommend that a page never optimizes for more than two keywords, but using more than two in titles is food for thought.

On off page directory submissions…

Don’t dismiss directories completely. I have heard people talking about directories being altogether bad and advise people to avoid them. This is not the case, good quality, moderated directories, or niche directories are still worth looking in to. Third, to stay focused on quality of pages linking in to you, Google judges your link profile by the quality of pages linking to your site, getting 3 links from authentic pages will do much more than 1000 links from splogs, so invest your time into getting quality, not quantity.

I would caution here that while directory submissions are still an important part of link building and SEO, there are a ton that border on spammy, so use sound discretion and consider quality over quantity.

On social integration into the search process…

The change is definitely in the air, I think we have all seen signs of this happening already. It also looks like Google is moving towards more localized versions of search instead of a country wide version. Social will surely play a huge part in this. Integrating Google places into Google+ was a clear sign of the direction in which they are heading. I can only guess how it will look in the future but you can bet on Google+ being a very important part of it. I don’t think Google will let go of their social network any time soon so if you don’t have a profile for your site yet… don’t wait.

We’re seeing this already, but he certainly drives the point home, at least with regard to Google+. I think in the future you’ll see more social integration across other platforms as well, so keep your social activity active and relevant.

One of the themes Andrew drives home in his interview, and one that we have been preaching for some time now, is that it’s all about quality content. Optimize by the rules, but at the end of the day, if you’re not creating a steady flow of good content, no one is going to care.