During a panel at SXSW it was revealed that Google is working on a search ranking penalty that will punish sites that are “overly SEO’ed.”

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of making your website more visible to search engines like Google and Bing.

The purpose of Google’s new penalty is to “level the playing field,” according to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. This will give sites with great content a better chance of ranking above sites that have average content, but better SEO skills.

“We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it,” explained Cutts. Individuals that feature too many keywords on a single page or exchange way too many links will be targeted by the new optimization penalty.

Google has yet to share more details about the penalty, but we can expect it to begin rolling out in the next few weeks.

Sharing your content through social media channels is one way to get noticed, but having good SEO is critical in order to be successful through search. However, don’t go overboard. Focus on defining your target audience and delivering the most useful and relevant content to them.

[Via: Search Engine Land, Image credit: Alan Levine]