At SXSW 2012 Google discussed its plans for a new search engine algorithm to essentially break the barrier between big name sites & home run blogs, and the order they display in your Google Search results.
Search engines work based off indexing keywords. A technique used on all websites, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is a method in which words, phrases and links are strategically placed in order to be better optimised for a search engine (this may be intentional or not). The better optimised a page, the higher in the search results it will appear and the more traffic it will generate.
It's obvious when a page has been over SEO'ed: the same keywords (which would obviously be searched for) crop up time and time again. Large sites will even employ dedicated staff to perform SEO in a bid against their competitors to bring in more traffic.
In the upcoming months, Google's plan is to rank websites more 'realistically'. Boosting those sites with quality, original content towards the top of results and useless, SEO infested spam out of view.
Or as Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, puts it:
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.
This is quite an exciting change, in theory it may wipe out SEO all together. A 'level playing field' Google should be far more interesting and useful, then one ruled by wealthy SEO fueled sites and spam. Matt Cutts will be speaking again at the 'You&A With Matt', Search Marketing Expo, Seattle.