March 13 2024


Google March 2024 Core Update: What Your Business Needs to Know 

Google Core updates are adjustments to the search engine’s ranking algorithms and systems. The purpose of these broad updates is to deliver helpful and reliable results for searchers. 

While Google makes many ongoing changes to its algorithm, core updates are only run a few times a year and this is the first update of 2024. This release is more robust than previous updates, and contains multiple components which are centered around providing helpful content for users and tackling websites that use manipulative tactics to rank. 

This blog will provide more specific information about the updates in progress and resources to help Teams understand any effects felt in your SEO performance during rollout. 

Why the March 2024 Core Update is different 

This newest update from Google began on March 5th and includes a core algorithm update and new spam updates. Plus, the Helpful Content Update, which started in 2022 to reward people-first versus search engine-first content, is merging into the core system—these have been running separately until now.    

Experts are seeing widespread deindexing of sites using manipulative tactics, abusing AI for content generation, or ones classified as spam or unhelpful content. Deindexing means removal from Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and loss of organic traffic and paid search opportunities. Google’s purpose for this effort is to improve the quality of search results by targeting low-quality, unoriginal content in the search landscape. In fact, the goal is a 40% reduction in unhelpful content.   

Due to the size of this update, roll-out could take one month instead of the usual two weeks. Fluctuations in rankings can occur during core updates and given that multiple systems are updating over a longer period, businesses may experience larger fluctuations than in the past. Knowing the updates are in progress can help provide context to any shifts in metrics seen in March 2024.   

Fluctuations may be just that—not a permanent change in performance. It’s important to wait for the full roll-out before making program adjustments. Additionally, declines in performance don’t equate to punishment but may be a case of competitors ranking higher, causing your business to fall a few spots. 

Google Core Updates are important to consider when reviewing SEO performance and can give context to metrics within a specific timeframe aligning to roll-out. 

What the March 2024 Core Update includes 

Google said this update will refine how the search engine understands webpages that are “unhelpful, have a poor user experience, or feel like they were created for search engines instead of people.” The update is meant to target those sites created to match specific queries and is a response to the rise of computer-generated content. To make progress in these areas, the March 2024 Core Update will include unspecified updates to the core systems behind the algorithms as well as the two major areas: the Helpful Content Update and Spam.   

Helpful Content Update

Helpful Content updates run sitewide to minimize low-quality content and content written for search engines versus users. To meet these requirements, Google provides Search Quality Rater Guidelines to inform what a helpful result includes and where E-E-A-T comes in. Google updated these guidelines, which now include characteristics of untrustworthy pages.   

This component is being incorporated into the core update system, meaning it will be a part of core updates moving forward versus having its own update.  

Helpful Content aligns with TopSpot’s B-SMART Method®, which informs a business’s website with keywords and content based on user intent. This is done by using lead data and reviewing the search landscape to ensure results and corresponding landing pages answer the questions of your prospective buyers. Thereby, B-SMART looks to provide helpful content with experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. 

The acronym E-E-A-T helps illustrate the framework behind Helpful Content, what Google uses to evaluate the credibility and relevance of content.

Spam Updates

Concern about spam is constant, and this explains why this update includes three separate spam targets: 

1. Scaled Content Abuse    

  • This will combat sites generating large amounts of valueless content at scale to manipulate the search engine versus helping users.  

2. Expired Domain Abuse   

  • Expired domain abuse is the practice of buying expired domains and repurposing them to boost search rankings.  

3. Site Reputation Abuse   

  • This update will go into effect on May 5th, but work is underway. This will look at the inclusion of third-party, low-quality content integrated into websites to manipulate rankings. This is also known as Parasite SEO

How to know if your website is affected  

Significant fluctuations in rankings or traffic can occur during these updates and can be identified in organic page-level traffic in GA4, specifically daily average changes in users, and in incoming lead trends, which TopSpot Clients can find via LOOP Analytics.    

Your TopSpot Team monitors this data and the search landscape as part of our ongoing data analysis for strategy development but takes extra notes during algorithm updates to provide context to changes seen and considers the updates when discussing if solutions are required.  

We have reviewed how to know if you’ve been affected by an algorithm update, but here’s a quick refresher as we wait for this latest roll-out to wrap:  

  1. See large jumps in rankings or traffic?  
  • Great! Review the landscape for new competitors and changes in the layout to fully understand the effects and consider how to apply findings to pages not seeing the same success.    
  1. Are you experiencing consistency in rankings or traffic?  
  • Review the landscape for potential changes in competitors and SERP features, then review top-ranking sites to find additional opportunities to improve performance.    
  1. Are you experiencing large drops in rankings or traffic?   
  • Examine the quality of content for the pages affected and their search landscapes and ask yourself how your ideal customers could benefit from revised page copy specific to their needs. 

If you are a TopSpot Client and have questions about these updates, please contact your Account Team to get further insight into the effects. Not a TopSpot Client and would like to learn more? Contact us for more information on Google Core Updates, Helpful Content, and SEO performance.   

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