This should have been a blog post and not a forum post, but I was replying to an excellent post by Spirituality that set me off.
In a stupid reversal of what makes sense for a blog vs. a forum post, I will excerpt possibly the most useful part of my TL;DR post and quote it here:
Google’s end goal is to serve up the most relevant content; it’s treating “quality” not as an intrinsic value but as a component of relevance.
Start with Spirituality’s comment above, then grab a cup of coffee and read my natterings that followed. (or not.)
Really, all that Google wants is to provide the most relevant content to the searchers. When doing link building by any means, using Squidoo, Hubpages, social bookmarking etc, the word to keep in mind is “Relevancy”.
P.S. The conversation on the forum was quite long.