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What does Google's March 2024 Update Mean For You?

5th March, 2024: Another core update released by Google.

Google continues to wage war on spammy content.

While this is nothing new, there are some key updates that many SEO experts are predicting will shake things up.

What are we dealing with this time?

  • A crackdown on general spamming tactics

  • Scaled content abuse to be penalised (crackdown on the surge of low quality Ai content)

  • Site reputation abuse to be penalised (crackdown on black-hat link building tactics and referral spam)

     

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Google’s March 2024 Core Update 

The March 2024 core update is a more complex update than our usual core updates, involving changes to multiple core systems. It also marks an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content.

Just as we use multiple systems to identify reliable information, we have enhanced our core ranking systems to show more helpful results using a variety of innovative signals and approaches. There's no longer one signal or system used to do this, and we've also added a new FAQ page to help explain this change.

As this is a complex update, the rollout may take up to a month. It's likely there will be more fluctuations in rankings than with a regular core update, as different systems get fully updated and reinforce each other. We'll post to our Google Search Status Dashboard when the update is finished.

There's nothing new or special that creators need to do for this update as long as they've been making satisfying content meant for people. For those that might not be ranking as well, we strongly encourage reading our creating helpful, reliable, people-first content help page.

 

How will this affect SEO

As Google states in that last sentence, if you’ve been doing things right then there is no need to worry!

Most of this update will target genuinely spammy content, for example cloaking, or other black hat tactics.

The most interesting section, however, concerns Scaled content abuse.

Scaled content abuse is when many pages are generated for the primary purpose of manipulating Search rankings and not helping users. This abusive practice is typically focused on creating large amounts of unoriginal content that provides little to no value to users, no matter how it's created.

This new policy builds on our previous spam policy about automatically-generated content, ensuring that we can take action on scaled content abuse as needed, no matter whether content is produced through automation, human efforts, or some combination of human and automated processes.

So the bottom line on this is you can use Ai to create content but it has to be helpful.

If the quality is poor and you’re creating a lot of it, you risk being penalised for it.

If you are creating a lot of Ai content with the sole purpose of ranking, Google is going to consider this spam.

Our long-standing spam policy has been that use of automation, including generative AI, is spam if the primary purpose is manipulating ranking in Search results. The updated policy is in the same spirit of our previous policy and based on the same principle. It's been expanded to account for more sophisticated scaled content creation methods where it isn't always clear whether low quality content was created purely through automation.

This could have a huge impact on the internet landscape.

The last 18 months have seen an influx of Ai generated content. SEO’s not taking a strategic approach with their content are going to pay the consequences.

Websites that suddenly started pumping out automated gibberish or tonnes of duplicate pages will likely be removed altogether.

If you aren’t using E-E-A-T as your guide this update should serve as a wakeup call. 
 

Watch: EEAT Guidelines:

 

Lastly the Site reputation abuse section states the following:

Site reputation abuse is when third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site's ranking signals. Such third-party pages include sponsored, advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site's main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users.

Our new policy doesn't consider all third-party content to be a violation, only that which is hosted without close oversight and which is intended to manipulate Search rankings. For example, many publications host advertising content that is intended for their regular readers, rather than to primarily manipulate Search rankings. Sometimes called "native advertising" or "advertorial", this kind of content typically wouldn't confuse regular readers of the publication when they find it on the publisher's site directly or when arriving at it from Google's search results. It doesn't have to be blocked from Google Search.

So guest posting is still fine if it is relevant but paying for backlinks (especially poor quality and on sites that don’t make sense) will probably be flagged as spam.

Website’s need to have a real relationship to each other. If it makes sense to the user it will make sense to Google.

Download our content marketing guide 2024 for help with your Google-friendly content strategy.

 

Summary of advice

  • Make sure you take a strategic approach to your content.

  • Understand what your audience needs from you and help them as much as possible.

  • Follow E-E-A-T guidelines.

  • Get help from an expert

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