Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced as a side note during his panel at SXSW that Google is releasing an algorithm update specifically to target sites over doing their SEO.
Matt Cutts said this is Google's attempt to "level the playing field" between webmasters that build quality content versus webmasters who are just really aggressive SEOs.
I just heard this by listening to the audio recording from the panel he was on at SXSW a week or so ago.
He said, and I quote:
What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don't normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO - versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.
I am amazed I didn't hear this earlier but I guess people missed it?
We did see a lot of complaints of ranking changes this week. But Google denied any updates of any sort. I doubt this is directly related or maybe Google is testing it?
Brace yourself SEOs - here comes something big!
Here is the audio again, it is about 1/3rd way in:
Forum discussion continued at Google+.
Image credit to ShutterStock for SEO hand.
Update: This is now named the Penguin Update.