The Google March 2024 Core Update

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The Google March 2024 Core Update

the google march 2024 core update

All About the March 2024 Google Core Update

It’s been over two weeks since Google’s March 2024 core update rolled out – and it’s one of the most significant updates I have seen to date. It’s currently sweeping the web in the same way we saw Panda and Penguin updates do more than ten years ago, and all the forums agree: this update is a big deal.

March 2024 Core Update

After reading the official Google announcement, it was very clear that it was very different from past core updates for two reasons.

First: not only did it cover the usual major changes to ranking systems, but it rolled out at the same time brand-new spam policies were announced. Second: it was packaged with a helpful content system.

What this means is Google has updated what it will consider “spam” from sites, and we won’t be seeing any more Helpful Content Updates.

Why the March 2024 Core Update Matters

It’s no secret that Google’s reputation has fallen lately, with many users reporting poor user experience caused by the rising number of AI-generated content clogging up the SERPs.

It’s something that’s been happening for months now, and this likely is why they have decided to package this core update with several others.

Now, I mentioned Panda and Penguin earlier – and if you’ve been in the SEO game for about as long as I have, then you know how significant my statement is.

But if you’re newer to SEO, I’ll summarize. Back when those two updates came out, Google cracked down, hard, on websites. Hundreds upon thousands of websites were penalized and even de-indeed, causing many to lose 100% of their traffic. And this all happened basically overnight.

And something similar is happening now, from what I’ve been seeing on news updates and forums.

The Effects of the March 2024 Core Update So Far

In the days since the Google March 2024 core and spam updates have started rolling out, the SERPs have been busy. We’ve seen significant search ranking volatility, which is partially due to the algorithmic updates, and partially related to Google issuing manual actions connected to the new spam policies.

Note that this update is not over yet. These things usually take a few weeks to roll out – Google themselves said it would take about a month to finish (check their dashboard if you want to see when it finishes.)

Plus, several systems will be updated at the same time. We could see even more volatility in the next two weeks.

Here is a brief timeline of what SEOs and webmasters have been reporting on forums since the launch:

  • March 5 to 7 – Official Google announcement regarding manual actions taken for policy violators. Sites also reported that they were delisted from Google’s database.
  • March 8 – Sites started seeing the first spikes in search rankings.
  • March 10 – Search volatility calmed down temporarily. However, more sites started reporting that they were hit by both algorithmic changes and manual actions. Other sites reported that they saw some reversals (although temporarily).
  • March 12 – An independent study by found that 100% of the websites that had a manual action applied had content that was AI-generated.
  • March 15-16 – Rising search ranking volatility, which is likely to be connected to the ongoing core and spam update rollout.
  • March 18 – Google urges webmasters to have patience as the Google March 2024 core update continues to roll out.
  • March 19 – Google says they will collect “specific” feedback once the updates have been fully rolled out, as forums are filled with very unhappy webmasters.

With the overlapping updates and tons of chatter on forums, there’s a lot of confusion going on for SEOs at the moment. Many who have been deranked in the last few days find it hard to keep track of what, exactly, on their website is impacting their rankings.

The New Spam Policies to Consider

While Google will never disclose which ranking factors it’s adjusted in a core update, it will tell us what’s been added to its guidelines and policies.

Here’s what has been added to the spam policies this month:

  • Expired domain abuse – Buying and repurposing an expired domain with the intent to manipulate search rankings, piggybacking on the domain’s age and authority.
  • Scaled content abuse – Mass-generating content and pages for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings, resulting in tons of unoriginal, low-quality, and unhelpful content. And yes, this is considered abuse whether or not you use AI or similar tools to do it.
  • Site reputation abuse – Publishing third-party pages without your oversight or involvement, allowing these parties to take advantage of your ranking signals and rank higher on the search results.

This update aims to crack down on PBNs (private blog networks), AI-generated content, Parasite SEO, and other gray- and black-hat practices that benefit from cheap and dirty tactics to climb the search results.

What Can You Do to Recover From a Google Update?

The answer to this always lies in what the update tries to fix. In this case, we can see the core update and new spam policies are meant to punish sites that don’t create helpful content, and rely on spamm-y practices to rank high.

So, if you’re doing that, you should stop immediately and audit your website to remove any offending content or pages. Refocus your strategy on building quality content that centers user experience, and follows white-hat link-building and authority-building tactics.

If you have never relied on spam or mass-generated content, but find your website has been hit anyways, then it’s time to go back to basics and audit your website top-to-bottom. I recently finished a 4-part SEO checklist for 2024 you can follow for this. This other guide on how to fix your site after a manual action can help you if you find you we’re one of the unlucky ones affected by this update.

Do I Need to Avoid Publishing Too Much Content at Once?

I know that the statements from Google and this article both use the term “mass-generated,” so you might be asking yourself this question right now.

But here’s the thing: the issue isn’t how often you publish your content. It’s how the content you’re publishing is made.

In my experience, publishing 2-3 times a week doesn’t negatively impact a website, so long as the posts themselves follow the usual E-E-A-T and Helpful Content guidelines.

John Mueller also addressed this concern by stating:

Content is generally not considered spam just from the way that you publish it. Some sites switch on a big batch of awesome content, and awesome is awesome. Some sites publish small amounts of junk, and well, it’s junk not because of how it’s published.

Keep that in mind if you’re rethinking your content strategy in light of this update.

Key Takeaway

Google’s March 2024 core update shows their stance: quality trumps quantity. Creating links and content at scale will hurt you in the long run if it’s done wrong.

Websites need to avoid depending heavily on thin or duplicated content, or easy and quick backlinks. These will only slightly benefit your website for a short while until Google once again rolls out with a new update.

So focus on content quality, audit your website regularly, and always aim to enhance user experience to mitigate (and even benefit from) the effects of this core update, and any update to come.

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