March 2024 Google Update: What You Need to Know

Mar 15, 2024

So, it’s that time of year again. The first Google Core Update of 2024. They happen every year  – actually, multiple times a year (we had four in 2023) – so what’s so special about this one?

Well, to put it bluntly – a lot. So, if you’re not sure what all the fuss is about or are worried about your website, keep reading to find out the key bits you need to know about the March 2024 Google Update.


What Is a Google Core Update?

A Google core update is essentially where we see significant changes to the search algorithm (the results we see when we search anything on Google). Google’s rules and processes are used to determine the rankings of websites in search results.

These updates aim to improve the relevance, quality, and usefulness of search results for users. They can have a broad impact on search rankings, potentially causing websites to move up or down in them, and these changes can be pretty significant.

Core ranking systems and updates are part of Google’s ongoing efforts to ensure that it can deliver the best (and most relevant) answers to search queries by evaluating and adjusting how it assesses content and website quality. It’s essentially trying to remove low-quality content and unhelpful web pages from appearing where they shouldn’t.

So, for site owners and SEOs, these updates can mean they may need to review and possibly adjust their content and SEO strategies to align with the new changes in order to maintain or improve their search rankings.


How Long Will the March 2024 Google Update Take to Roll Out?

Google Core updates tend to take a little longer than other update types. So, expect the whole process to last for around four weeks (this is what Google announced) and to be completed fully before Google’s search results start to stabilise.


How Does a Core Update Differ from Other Google Updates?

So, compared to updates like those targeting content or spam policies, Google’s core updates are much broader.

Core updates effectively impact the overall way that Google’s search algorithm works, potentially impacting a wide range of websites and their rankings in search results. So, although these updates focus heavily on content quality, they also look at relevancy.

Updates focused on helpful content system changes or spam, on the other hand, are more specific in their goals. For example, updates aimed at promoting helpful content might prioritise pages with accurate, informative, and valuable information for users in the search ranking results.

Spam updates specifically target and penalise websites that engage in manipulative tactics to attract clicks or try to trick or deceive the search engine. So, think:

  • Keyword stuffing: where pages are loaded with an excessive number of keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in search results, often resulting in poor user experience.
  • Cloaking: where the content presented to the search engine is different from that presented to the user’s browser – misleading both the users and search engines.
  • Hidden text or links: These tactics manipulate search engine rankings by deceiving search engines into indexing content that is different from what the user actually sees.

These are just a few of the many spam tactics that go against Google’s rules. And, FYI – there’s a Spam 2024 update happening right now, too. It’s not ideal, and Google doesn’t like running two updates at once. But, they were both ready to be rolled out – so it’s happening!

So, although core updates are about refining the core principles of how Google’s search algorithm functions, updates targeting helpful content or spam are more specifically targeted towards aspects of search quality and user experience.


What You Need to Know About the March 2024 Google Update

See below for the main things you need to know about.

It’s Different from Previous Core Updates

The March 2024 Google Update is really shaking things up for SEOs, as it’s steering away from what we’ve seen with past updates.

Usually, core updates tend to target specific factors, but this one? It’s going big. It’s changing various basic elements all at the same time. Essentially, it’s a core update, a helpful content update, and a spam update all in one. This could mean a wild ride for website rankings until everything settles down.

And with Google keeping quiet (as usual) about how they decide who ranks where, everyone’s slightly in the dark, guessing what’ll happen next and analysing changes closely. We’re all just keeping an eye out, ready to see how different things will look once the dust settles.

Say Hello to New Spam Policies!

Three new spam policies have been introduced with the core update. These are called scaled content abuse, expired domain abuse and site reputation abuse, and they’ve been developed to reduce the number of sites currently manipulating search rankings with spam tactics.

Let’s take a closer look at what they mean:

  • Scaled content abuse: Defined as when large volumes of low-quality, unoriginal content are produced to manipulate search rankings (created purely for ranking) without providing any real value to users.
  • Expired domain abuse: This occurs when someone buys an expired domain with a high score (so it naturally has a better chance of ranking higher in search engines) and essentially uses it to promote low-quality content.
  • Site reputation abuse: Websites that post third-party content to manipulate search engines into ranking them higher are being watched much more closely now. If a site owner doesn’t carefully check the content from others from now on, Google will treat it as spam.

Just to be clear here – scaled content abuse, expired domain abuse, and site reputation abuse have always been against Google search guidelines. However, with this March 2024 Google Update – it’s a much bigger focus than ever, and sites that have been engaging in these tactics without getting noticed (or rewarded, even), are likely to see their rankings drop.

Low-Quality Content Is Being Axed By 40%

Yep. You read that right. A whopping 40% is projected to be axed from search engines. Well, from it showing up anywhere visible to a user, anyway.

This is the biggest collective reduction in unhelpful web pages we’ve seen yet. Although it’s a good thing, it also raises plenty of questions about the criteria used to judge what’s considered “unhelpful”.

This decision to filter out a significant portion of the web from search engine results will undoubtedly make for a cleaner, more efficient browsing experience for people. However, it also puts a lot of power into the hands of a few, determining what information is accessible and what isn’t.

Our advice is to follow Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines closely and regularly (because they do change!) when producing content for your website. Otherwise, your valuable, actually helpful content could be unjustly sidelined.

AI Generated Content Might Be Targeted

Many in the SEO industry have good reason to believe that this update may negatively impact sites that have heavily abused the ability to produce large volumes of new content, through the use of AI.

Now, this doesn’t mean that websites can’t use AI software for content creation, because it can definitely be a useful tool. But that’s the keyword: tool.

Mass-producing content with AI without human touch or checking whether it’s actually valuable or helpful would be classed as scaled content abuse, which is against Google’s guidelines, as it’s previously been stated that pure AI content creation cannot meet the standards of quality expected to gain topical authority or land your website in a top spot in the search results.


Worried About Your SEO? Get In Touch Today

If you’re interested in investing in SEO for your website, get in touch today. Our dedicated team of experienced SEOs are ready to help you enhance your online visibility, drive more organic traffic to your site, and increase your conversion rates. We specialise in tailoring our strategies to meet your specific business needs and objectives, ensuring that you get the most out of your SEO investment.

Contact us directly at 0151 652 4777, and let’s discuss how we can boost your website to the top of search results.

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