Matt Cutts is a software engineer working closely with Google’s algorithmic programing and is a high profile spokesman for the search engine company. Yesterday, April 24th he shared some specifics about the latest changes to the basic algorithm that defines relevancy.

Based on his write-up on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the most significantly affected websites (read here those slammed in rankings) will be websites that use shady linking practices in an attempt to game the system. My favorite graphicaccompanying the announcement showed a total scam-driven block of copy that had zero reference to links referenced in the text.

Sample showing false linking

Image by Google Webmaster Central Blog

The other most significant no-no that will drive some companies’ website rankings down is over-optimizing. This is basically sketchy writing – stuffing keywords into every open space on the site – again in an attempt to artificially get preferential ranking.

Cutts’ comments make it clear that Google does not “have it in for” companies like NetTrack Marketing that help clients write well to improve the on-site experience for people visiting your website as well as improve search rankings.

Google has said before that search engine optimization, or SEO, can be positive and constructive—and we’re not the only ones. Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. Search engine optimization includes things as simple as keyword research to ensure that the right words are on the page, not just industry jargon that normal people will never type.

“White hat” search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines.

We can expect that over the coming  few weeks, as Google launches what they consider an important algorithm change targeted at webspam, there will be a decrease in rankings for sites that are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. Google has always targeted webspam in structuring their rankings, and as Cutts points out, this algorithm represents another improvement in the search engine’s genuine efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.