Edit: Site now down, enter this into Google search box to get it:
Edit 2: SEL now picked it up.
Ex-Googler: "To Please Google With Your SEO, Forget About SEO"
Nothing new, but those pulling their hair out and wondering "What Google Wants" might be interested.
Question 5. What are common trends you looked for to determine a spammy link profile?
There are a good few elements taken into account here, like how many links are there in total? A very important one; what is the quality of the pages they come in from? Do the pages look "real" or are they just there to host the links? What anchors are used? The commercial vs. non commercial ratio of the anchors.
In reality it's very easy to recognise a blackhat profile, all you have to do is imagine what anchors would have been used if the linking happened completely naturally and compare it with what is going on in reality. Anyone can do it, just think logically and keep in mind which keywords convert to money.
Question 6. From your time in Google what are 3 on page tactics that you recommend?
Very good question, on page tactics are often overlooked, while in reality they should be a key element in your SEO strategy.
First of all, choose your domain name wisely, having a good URL can give you a head start in the race. Good domains are still expensive and for a good reason.
Second, be very thorough about your basic elements like titles, descriptions and H1/H2 headers. People are so focussed on putting the most expensive fuel in their car (link building) that they totally forget about the basics like putting wheels on it (on page elements). Of course you can't over-do it as Google now also penalises for over optimisation, so don't putt more than 2 commercial keywords in your titles or Google will frown upon it.
Third, and most important, focus on content quality. Try to work on your website as if SEO was not part of your plan, create content out of a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the topic of your page. This is what Google and your users want form you, I know it's tempting to think about financial gain but remember that Googles primary concern is valuable information!
Question 7. What are 3 off site (link building) tactics that you recommend?
Off site link building has dramatically changed since the recent updates. Anything that you can do automatically or at scale putts your website at risk. So keep the following in mind; Link building has changed from an almost purely technical process into something that resembles a relationship management campaign.
Building a network with owners of sites that are related to yours for example. If your website is about cheese production, reach out to people in the milk industry, like I mentioned before, relevance is the new PR.
Second, 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 focussed 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.