Google has revealed plans to penalise the search rankings of websites that overuse search engine optimisation techniques.
Matt Cutts, a software engineer within Google's Webspam team, told the SXSW conference last week that changes to the search crawler could be enacted within "weeks".
They would target websites that attempted to elevate their search rankings by providing a suspicious amount of keywords on a page, exchanging too many links or making changes "beyond what a normal person would expect," he said.
"The idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit," he said.
"All those people who have been doing - for lack of a better word - over-optimisation - or overly doing their SEO compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to make that playing field a little bit more level.
Cutts said the changes came in an effort to "make the Googlebot smarter" to handle sites relying primarily on SEO techniques and those which do not optimise to the same extent.
He said the crawlers would target those websites that "abuse" SEO techniques.
Bing's Webmaster program senior product manager Duane Forrester concurred that over-optimisation was a problem but said that as long as SEO helped "point to relevancy, we say big thumbs up".