Just read a post where Matt Cutts, a fellow at Google, does his best disprove rumors regarding how they SEO is done by Google.
The post can be accessed by clicking here.
His four main points, in the post are
1. Paying For Google AdWords = Higher Organic Rankings
2. Google Changes Its Algorithm to Force People to Buy Ads
3. Black Hat Tricks: The Best Way to Rank No. 1
4. SEO Tools Will Solve All Your Problems
For me, item no 4 is the most interesting. Admittedly, most IMers buy/use SEO tools and methods that purportedly enhance SEO. For me, SEO has always been a grey area. For me, your SEO and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategy must be smart and makes logical sense ( especially the backlinks). For example, if your site is about sports news, then your backlinks should not come from health related sites. All the google updates, in my opinion, are attempting to keep it logical.
He did not mention it in his post, but he has been a strong proponent that all website masters should use the Google Webmasters tool as part of website management, which I do agree.
Matt is definitely one of the public Google faces when talking about SEO and SEM so I guess his advice should be taken seriously.