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Why You Should Care About Google's March 2024 Core Update

Why You Should Care About Google's March 2024 Core Update

It is a crucial and necessary chore, as a business, to stay updated with the latest changes in search engine algorithms. And Google's March 2024 Core Update is one that you will definitely want to pay attention to. This latest update aims to improve user experience by ensuring that high-quality and relevant content ranks higher in search results. And it also includes improvements to their spam policies. As a result, it could impact your website's visibility and traffic. 

But this update, unlike the previous ones, is more complex and the changes are more significant. So, we’re going to take some time to break it down and provide you with the most necessary information. Then you can determine what actions, if any, are needed for your website.

Why the March 2024 Core Update Matters

Recently, Google’s search results have been cluttered with AI-generated content, leading to a poor user experience. It appears that the March 2024 Core Update, packed with several other updates, is Google's response to these challenges. 

Do you remember the Panda and Penguin updates? They aimed to penalize low-quality content and webspam respectively, causing many sites to lose traffic overnight. This new update looks like it is following a similar trajectory. Reports and forums indicate that a comparable shift is happening, emphasizing the critical nature of this update.

Google’s Elizabeth Tucker, the Director of Product Management, wrote in her recent article that the combination of this update and previous efforts will collectively reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40%. She points out the two main changes of the update; to improve quality ranking and to improve existing (and add new) spam policies.

Tucker writes, they want “to ensure we surface the most helpful information on the web and reduce unoriginal content in search results.” And their new spam policies are aimed at keeping low-quality content out of search results.

And the reason why this update is more complex than others, and why we should all pay closer attention, is because it involves changes to multiple core systems, not just the Helpful Content system. If you would like to read more about Google’s systems, you can check out the Guide to Google Search Ranking Systems.

Why the March 2024 Core Update Matters

The Effects of the Core Update

The Google March 2024 Core Update, accompanied by simultaneous spam policy revisions, has ushered in a wave of search ranking volatility not seen in recent times. The update was rolled out over several weeks, but now appears to be complete. 

Since the update's inception, SEO professionals and webmasters have been reporting and sharing dramatic shifts. There are cases where Google has enforced manual actions (penalties) against sites violating the new policies. While other websites are experiencing sudden boosts in their search rankings.

In a March 5, 2024 blog post on the Google Search Central, titled “What web creators should know about our March 2024 core update and new spam policies”, it said that there is nothing new or special you need to do in reaction to this update as long as your website has “satisfying content meant for people.” But if you do see a dip in your rankings, they recommend reading their help page on creating helpful, reliable, people-first content

We also recommend keeping a close eye on rankings for the next few months as the volatility subsides.

Google's New Spam Policies to Be Aware Of

In line with Google's approach to maintaining transparency while safeguarding the integrity of its search results, the company typically does not specify which ranking factors have been adjusted during a core update. However, Google made it a point to announce new additions to its policies, likely as a way to guide webmasters and content creators towards best practices. Among the notable new policies introduced in the March 2024 Core Update are:

Expired Domain Abuse

Expired domain abuse is where entities buy and repurpose expired domains to unjustly manipulate search rankings. These domains will now be considered spam. 

Scaled Content Abuse

Also targeted is scaled content abuse, which involves the mass generation of low-quality and unoriginal content designed to game the system. Think of this as pages that pretend to have answers to a popular search question but then fail to deliver truly helpful content.

Site Reputation Abuse

Another critical area of focus is site reputation abuse, highlighting the issue of publishing third-party pages without proper oversight, and allowing these pages to unjustly benefit from established ranking signals. This policy will start to be enforced on May 5, 2024, giving website owners time to make changes. 

These updates take aim at practices such as Private Blog Networks (PBNs), AI-generated content, Parasite SEO, and other unethical tactics that fall under the umbrella of gray- and black-hat SEO techniques, all of which are devised to artificially inflate search rankings.

To learn more about Google’s spam policies, we suggest reading their Spam Policy Page.

Google's New Spam Policies to Be Aware Of

Tips to Recover From the Google Update

Recovering from a Google update begins with understanding what the update seeks to correct. Hopefully this article is a good start for you. For next steps and tips, if your site is affected by the update, here’s our recommendations:

  1. Halt any spammy practices immediately. 
  2. Conduct a thorough audit of your site for any content that might be offending the new guidelines. 
  3. Shift focus towards generating high-quality content. 
  4. Adopt ethical link-building and authority-enhancing practices. 

If you have not relied on spam or mass-generated content but still find your website's performance impacted by the update, we advise a comprehensive website audit. We learned that the frequency of content publication is not problematic. What you do want to do is to ensure that any content published, whether 2-3 times a week or otherwise, aligns with the Helpful Content guidelines. Another way to evaluate your content is with the E-A-T model: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

These tips will help you with recovery from the update and will also fortify your website for future algorithm shifts.

To Sum Up the Update: Quality Over Quantity

Google's March 2024 core update reminds us of the common phrase: quality over quantity. Mass-produced links and content, if not executed with precision and care, could be detrimental to your site. If your website is heavy on thin, duplicated content or relies on quick, easy backlinks, you will be at risk with this update. Focus on quality content, conduct regular website audits, and work on improving user experience. Want to talk more about your SEO strategy or if you are interested in a comprehensive website audit, along with a focused one concerning the new Google update? Contact us and we’ll get started.